“What do you know about the company?” How to answer this trick interview question

Only a passionate superfan would know what is under the hood and history of this car.

What you know about the company?

Are you providing enough information to this all-important question? Recruiters have heard every version of this answer because it is asked to every candidate. When you know the goal of the question, it is easy to ace this interview standard. 

Now you know they’re going to ask you, so there is no reason you shouldn’t be prepared. Not being able to answer this question to the interviewer’s satisfaction will send your resume straight to the recycle bin. The trick is knowing how much, and what specific information the interviewer is looking for.

The goal of this interview question is two-fold:

  1. To prove you did your research. The recruiter tells you “Enough already, it’s obvious you did your homework!”
  2. Share that you are personally connected to the company. You have a personal passion not just for the job but practicing your craft with this particular company.

This question is a litmus test at many levels.

  • Showing we know a lot about the company indicates that we know how to conduct research. The more information we share, the more confidence the interviewer will have in our research and analysis skills. Presenting volumes of knowledge about the company shows our research skills are not limited to just a simple Google search. Information quoted from the business section, recent press releases, and the “About” page is a minimum.  
  • When a candidate comes to the interview with little or no knowledge about the company, the recruiter and hiring manager can only assume that their company only represents a paycheck to the candidate. There is no personal passion for the company.

If you ask a typical teenager who is into cars, about the 2018 Camero

“My favorite car is the 2018 Chevy Camero. First introduced in 1966, designed to compete with the Ford Mustang with the same platform as the Pontiac Firebird.  2018 is the 6th generation of this car and celebrated its 50th year in 2015. There are three engines for this. A 2.0 Turbocharged inline 4 producing 275hp, a 3.6 making 335hp and my favorite the SS model which has a 6.2 V8 with 455hp. The ZL1 performance package has really cool aerodynamics and adjustable suspension with forged aluminum wheels.” Blah blah blah. . . 

You get the idea. . . you are not able to regurgitate all this data unless you are REALLY INTO this car! Recruiters can smell sincerity – it’s their job.

The worst interview answers we can provide, (which are all too common):

  • I didn’t have much time to see what you guys do.
  • Can you tell me about your company? (For the record, this is a complete fail and personal insult to the interviewer)
  • I don’t know what you guys do. That is why I am here, to learn more about you. (Same as above, a personal insult)

Here are just a few of the facts we should be providing when asked this question:

  • Name of the CEO and the C level of the discipline we are interviewing for. If we are interviewing for a finance position, we should name the CFO. Interviewing for a developer/engineering position? Name of the CTO.
  • Mission/Vision Statement and what it actually means
  • Company Culture/Values
  • A few lines of the company’s business and how they are doing
  • How the product or service works
  • Competition
  • Recent news
  • If the company is public, revenue, market cap, stock symbol, stock price, etc
  • Year founded

The above is the minimum. Unfortunately, every candidate that makes the first cut will provide the same answers so this doesn’t separate us from the pack.

To separate yourself from the also-rans, you need to share why this company is of personal interest to you.

“I have an HR background. I can practice HR at a bank, a prison, or a sports team. HR is HR. The reason I am passionate about working at Career Tracker is that prior to coming to Career Tracker I was volunteering my time helping candidates find jobs. I was talking to college graduates and candidates making career changes and helping them with their resumes. I was doing this in my spare time. This really is my passion! That is why I wanted to work with the folks at Career Tracker.” – Ringo Nishioka

Key Takeaway: When you are asked, “What do you know about our company?” you gush and gush and you gush some mo’. Show you are sincerely passionate about the hiring company and personally connected.  Bring the passion. Bring it. 


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