By Joe Stein
“What Do You Know about the Organization?” is a question that many Interviewers will ask a candidate. If it is not asked, then a Job Seeker should provide the answer anyway in the form of questions for the Hiring Manager and the discussion that will follow. For an employer, doing your homework and providing some information about the company tells a prospective employer several things.
As we continue to review the most frequently asked questions in an interview, let’s explore tips for when you are asked, “What Do You Know about the Organization?”
Why Is It Asked?
· To Gauge Your Interest Level –It provides the prospective employer an idea regarding your interest level in the position. The theory being that a position in which you have spent time and effort researching, occurs when you genuinely want the position. This is especially true if the company knows they are in a competitive situation and that you have other options.
· Determine Research Skills – For some positions that require research skills, this question provides a snapshot regarding your ability to uncover critical information. This may be uncovering information from Annual Reports or merely from the Internet.
· Ability To Process Information – It is one thing to be able to find the information, but quite another to process the data and apply it to the position you are seeking. It provides a glimpse for the prospective employer regarding where you are in your career and the experience you possess. This is especially true if you are discussing the Annual Report and the financial status of the organization.
· Unveil Business Networks/Savviness – If you know some individuals within the company or in the industry, it provides a glimpse of your networking. This is especially poignant if you are seeking a sales position where your business and industry contacts are crucial.
How Should It Be Answered?
· Remember to Compliment – Be sure to mention that you have heard positive things regarding the organization and would love to join the company. The idea is not to fluff up your answer in a way to make you appear shallow, but rather state what you have heard that has been really appealing. If you cannot find something, that is probably not a good sign regarding the company you are interviewing with.
· Be Specific – It would be much more powerful to specifically express what you have heard instead of just stating “I have heard good things”. Do your research on the company. With today’s resources, especially on the Internet, there is no excuse for not having the information needed to have a conversation.
· Stay Relevant – The goal is not to have this as an exercise in trivia. When asked this question, use relevant information that will spur conversation. It frustrates a Hiring Manager to have a candidate merely regurgitate information found on the home page of its website.
· Show Knowledge – Weave into your answer the information you have gathered, such as the industry the company is in and other tidbits such as their major customer(s) or number of locations.
· Tie It To Your Plans/Goals – If the industry is something that you are very interested in, then you should state the connection. Similarly, if the company has a strong history of promoting from within, mention how this is related to your career goals.
· Sell Yourself – If you uncover that the company uses something such as a software package that you are experienced with, then this is a good time to weave this into the conversation, if it has not been done already.
What Not To Do:
· Ramble – “What Do You Know about the Organization?”is an open-ended question in which there is not one correct response or answer. This leads to an unprepared Job Seeker throwing out everything they may have read or heard about the organization. As is usually the case during an interview, a concise answer will probably work best for you.
· Draw a Blank – This will be solved with your preparation. Expect this question to be asked and even if it is not, be prepared to ask questions to the Interviewer that will display your knowledge. Failure to answer will cause you to come across as unprepared and uninterested.
This is a question that should be non-confrontational and help spur good conversation during the interview. Come to the interview prepared and this should be a question that will allow you to differentiate yourself from the competition.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNY Jobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional