How to answer the 2 most frequently asked interview questions. Fay Wallis. Bright Sky HR

“Why do you want to work here?” and “what do you know about this company?” are two of the most common questions you will be asked in a job interview. Use the seven steps below to boost your knowledge and insights about the company, so that you can show the interviewers why you are passionate about working there and convince them that you are a perfect fit for the company.

The seven steps will also help you decide whether this is the right company for you. Some applicants excitedly accept a role in a company they haven’t researched and are then shocked to find themselves walking into a wave of redundancies and a negative working environment. Others find an unexpected interest in and enthusiasm for the company once they’ve dug deeper to learn more about it.

Get the Knowledge

  1. Check the company’s finances: This is one of the most useful things you can do because the last thing you want is to join a sinking ship (unless you’re the one being brought in to turn the company around). Company Check lets you access the financial details of 5 companies a month for free. Just enter the company name and hit ‘search’. You will instantly see a summary of the company’s cash reserves, net worth, assets and liabilities. It’s also worth checking to see if the company is listed on one of the stock exchanges and whether its share price is stable (has stayed the same for a while), has plummeted recently (indicating the company is in trouble), or is on the rise. Yahoo Finance is good for this because it’s simple to use, it shows how the company’s shares have performed over different time periods (eg. 1 day, 5 days, 1 year, 5 years etc) and recent news stories about the company’s performance appear on the screen as soon as you type in the company’s name and hit “search”. It’s these news stories that give you the insight as to why a company is performing well or not; they also help you understand who the company’s competitors are and what the industry it operates in is like.
  1. Read the company’s website: This is the bare minimum requirement for any serious job seeker and should help you learn about the company’s history, how many people work for it, how many offices there are (and where these are located), what products and/or services it offers, who the CEO is and who is on the senior leadership team.
  1. Research the company on Glassdoor: If the company is of an average to large size it’s likely Glassdoor will be a goldmine of information for you. Glassdoor is packed with thousands of reviews from employees and prospective employees about their experience of working for, or interviewing at different companies. Some of the many things the reviews reveal include the company’s culture, how well employees are treated, the benefits on offer, what employees think of the CEO and if you’re lucky, you will even be told what interview questions and interview formats are used.
  1. Ask your network for help: Ask your friends and family if they know anything about the company you have applied to, or if they know anyone who works there now, or who has worked there previously. If they do know someone, ask if you can be put in touch with them. Then send an email or give them a call asking if they can give you any pointers for your interview and whether they can fill you in on some background information about the company and what it is like to work there.
  1. Use LinkedIn: Hopefully you already have a profile on LinkedIn (if not, this is something that would benefit you, as it is a fantastic platform for extending your network, explaining your skills, experience and showcasing some of your best work). People in your immediate network on LinkedIn (who you have accepted an invitation to connect with, or who you have invited to connect with you) are called 1st degree connections. The beauty of LinkedIn is that you can usually see who their connections are too (your 2nd degree connections). Just type the name of the company into LinkedIn’s search bar and you will be shown all your 2nd degree connections who work there. You can then invite them to connect with you, send them an InMail (LinkedIn’s messaging system), or ask the connection you have in common to introduce you to them, so that you can quiz them about the company.
  1. Use Twitter: Twitter is a great platform for hearing industry news and discovering who the company’s competitors are. Follow the company and Twitter will suggest other companies to follow (which are usually the company’s competitors). Following these competitors in the days leading up to your interview and scrolling through their previous tweets can give you valuable insights in the trends and challenges happening in the industry.
  1. Google: If you find something interesting when following the six steps above, dig into it more deeply by doing some Google searches. Perhaps the company has an inspiring CEO who had done a lot of press and you can find several interviews with him/her on the internet; or the company has released some interesting new products and you’d like to find out how successful they have been. Setting up Google alerts can also be a useful way of keeping tabs on anything about the company that has caught your interest.

Use What You’ve Learnt

You can use your knowledge to explain why you want to work at the company and you can also use it to ask some well-informed questions. Going into the interview with pre-prepared questions shows you are well prepared, knowledgeable and intelligent (if the questions you ask are based on what you have learnt from your research) and genuinely interested in working there. Some examples of the types of things you may want to say, or ask are:

Explain why you want to work there

“I’ve done some research on Glassdoor and spoken to some employees about the company. I was impressed to hear that the company provides a lot of career development opportunities and invests in its employees with regular training. I’ve worked hard to get to my current position and I want to keep on developing and growing, so I think it’s great that this is something that is valued here.”

“The company seems very innovative, with new product improvements being released more often than its competitors. It would be exciting to work for a company that is actively keeping up with the latest technology and investing in research and development to make sure it can keep improving its products.”  

Demonstrate your interest in and knowledge of the company by asking questions

“I can see the company’s shares have been outperforming its competitors for the last two years. What do you think it is that gives it the edge over them?”

“The company’s financial performance seems to have steadily declined over the last 5 years, is there a plan for turning this around?”

“The company seems to have a strong CEO; can you feel her influence on a day to day basis and if so, what sort of impact has she had on your working life?”

Good luck with your interview; if you follow these seven steps, you’ll be off to a great start.