There are many important questions you’ll be asked in a job interview, and “What do you know about our company?” is one of them. It seems simple enough, but it actually requires some work if you want to leave a good impression.
This guide will teach you how to answer this question and give you some samples to make practicing a lot easier.
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Why Interviewers Ask This Question
“What do you know about our company?” is a question that interviewers love to ask, and there are a few reasons why it often comes up when speaking to applicants. Your answer can reveal many things!
The first is how seriously you take the job opportunity. No company wants to hire someone who’s only there because they got a response after filling out a job application. Finding the right person for the job is about looking beyond qualifications. It’s about finding passion and genuine drive.
But let’s face it: Job-seekers often fill out many applications to find the next step in their career. How much time do you spend learning about the company, it’s products, customers and values?
Are you someone who actually wants this job, or was this application one of a hundred you submitted? That’s what interviewers are trying to figure out when they ask you what you know about the company. It might not seem that important to you, but whether or not you are interested in this position matters to the hiring manager.
They want to know why you want this job. Maybe the company is one you respect, or you’re trying to further your career. Whatever the case, anything is better than showing up to an interview purely because the recruiter liked your application.
Ultimately, it comes down to motivation. If you are there for a reason, you will likely stick around and work hard. That’s the kind of person companies want to work for them.
Another reason why this question comes up is to evaluate your interest. Hiring managers understand that you’ve likely applied to many companies, including their corporate rivals. If the job market is competitive, it’s unreasonable to expect that you put all your cards into this one basket.
But what did you do after you got an offer for the interview? Did you decide to just “wing it,” or did you do your due diligence? Hopefully, you did the latter and took some time to learn about the company before coming in.
If you did, it shows that you have interest in the company. You clearly want to impress, and there’s a good chance you’ll put that same attitude towards your work if hired.
How to Answer “What Do You Know About Our Company?”
“What do you know about our company?” is a question that requires some preparation. It’s not a personality-based question or one to which you can create a great answer on the spot. The entire point of it is to ensure that you did your homework!
Fortunately, it’s not too difficult coming up with a great answer. Here are a few tips to ensure your answer leaves a good impression.
1. Research Ahead of Time
The first step for answering this question is to start learning as much about this company as possible. Interviewers aren’t looking for a specific answer, but there are a few basics you should know.
The most obvious is to figure out what the company does. Does it sell a product or provide a service? How does it make money?
That’s the baseline information. From there, you can figure out the company’s target market, learn more about its strategies, and understand the types of goods or services it makes available to the masses.
Head over to the company’s website. You can look at the corporate website for more information, but don’t hesitate to look at the customer-facing platform, too. Knowing what the organization does from a client standpoint can be beneficial.
Beyond the day-to-day money-making aspects of the company, look into its past, present, and future.
Use Google and the company’s website to read up on how the organization came to be. Know how old it is and have a basic understanding of key players that brought the business to where it is now. Once again, knowing that information can provide valuable insight.
For the present information, look into company values and objectives. Every organization has a mission statement that cements its purpose and goals.
It’s also a good idea to look into competitors and how the company fits into the larger market. Is it a big player, a newcomer, or the middle-of-the-pack trying to make a bigger splash?
Finally, learn more about what the company plans to do in the future. Here’s where looking up more recent articles comes in handy. Maybe the organization is entering a new market or launching new products in the near future.
The position you’re trying to land could directly connect to the company’s plans. Learn what you can! Not only will it make you look good, but you can determine if this is a job you want to pursue.
Jot down what you learn. It always pays to have a “cheat sheet” of facts as you develop your answer.
2. Be Professional
This tip applies to basically every step of a job interview, but it’s especially important when it comes to answering with what you know about the company.
Here’s the reality: You may or may not learn things about the company that doesn’t shed it in the best light. That’s fine. No company is perfect.
If you’re applying for a job in a well-established organization, there’s a good chance there are many skeletons in the proverbial corporate closet. It’s always a good thing to learn those hidden facts. Companies usually go out of their way to bury those stories. Learning more about even the unpleasant details can help you decide if the job is worth pursuing.
But no matter what you learn, keep your answer professional and positive! Focus on the facts and avoid bringing up anything that could hurt your chances of moving forward. Bringing up past indiscretions will not do you any favors unless they are relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Talk about the company’s day-to-day, the market, and what it does. Don’t spend time being overly critical during your answer.
As a general rule, unprofessional answers could get you blocked from any future opportunities (no matter what question you’re answering). It may even cause issues with other organizations in the same industry. None of that is worth the trouble, so keep things professional!
3. Practice Your Answer
Practice makes perfect when preparing for an interview, and answering “What do you know about the company?” is a situation where this definitely applies. You don’t need to be a walking Rolodex of facts for this company, but you should have a good statement ready to go.
Generally, the best approach is to provide two or three relevant facts that you know about the organization. The type of facts you provide is entirely up to you. One good strategy is to offer up one point about the past, another about the current operations, and one about broader goals.
Next, include why you are interested in the company or how your experience will benefit their goals.
That’s an excellent way to frame your response. Pick the most relevant facts to your position and create your answer. Then, rehearse what you plan to say so that it feels organic.
It’s not necessary to have a verbatim script ready. Often, an overly-rehearsed written answer can come off as inauthentic. Instead, practice different ways to say the facts you want to present.
4. Ask Questions
In addition to providing your answer, ask a couple of questions that you’ve prepared ahead of time (or ones that come up during your conversation). This part of the interview often paves the way for a more open discussion between you and the interviewer.
Having a few questions ready can keep the conversation rolling, making it easier to leave a memorable impression.
Your questions should be about the company. Leave position-based questions for later. This part of the conversation is about the organization!
Maybe you learned something interesting about the company and want to find out more. Or, perhaps you came across a fact that you want clarification on. Whatever the case, asking questions always makes you look good.
It’s flattering and shows that you have a genuine interest.
What You Should Avoid Saying
Follow our tips, and you should have no problems developing an answer to “What do you know about our company?” that stands out. But before you head to your interview, there are a few things you want to avoid saying.
If you don’t approach it correctly, this question can hurt you just as much as it could help you.
Answering that you don’t know much about the company is one of the worst things you can do. That’s a huge red flag and will likely hurt your chances of getting a job offer.
Remember that the point of this question is to show interest and work ethic. If you didn’t bother to learn anything about the company, why would the interviewer get excited about hiring you?
False Facts and Inaccuracies
It’s not wise to head into the interview without a prepared answer (especially if it’s a final interview). However, it’s also a bad idea to fake it!
The interviewer obviously knows a lot about the company, so any inaccuracies in your answer will obviously stand out. Lying just to have an answer will backfire. Save yourself the humiliation and do your research!
Answering “What do you know about our company?” doesn’t have to be complicated. Every response will be different, and what you say will depend on what you learn.
The goal is to keep things short and sweet. Provide a few facts to show that you know your stuff. Provide a professional, well-thought-out response, and your interviewer will be impressed.
Let’s take a look at one easy example. In this scenario, the applicant is trying to get a job at a popular tech retail company that sells consumer electronics. They provide a few quick facts about the organization’s retail operations to show they understand what they’re getting into with the open position.
“I know that the company is one of the biggest electronics retailers in the Midwest. Last year was your most profitable to date since the company started in 1997. I’ve followed the organization closely, and I know you plan to expand into newer markets in the coming years.
I’m excited about the possibility of being a part of that expansion as you enter a new phase of operations.”
In our next example, the applicant is trying to get a leadership role at a long-established marketing firm. For their response, they decide to lean on innovation and growth. In doing so, they can highlight their excitement for the opportunity while praising the organization.
“I know a great deal about the company, and one thing I truly respect about it is its commitment to innovation and evolution. When the company started in the 90s, it was a small organization trying to navigate the dot-com bubble. But it moved past hurdles that made many competitors fall.
Your company evolved with the changing marketing landscape, moving from traditional billboards and fliers to online ads. Now, you’re dominating digital marketing in the social media era, managing over half a million dollars a month in advertising. I’m excited to be a part of this journey and accompany the organization as it continues to evolve.”
Our final sample answer is an interview with a data securities company. In the response, the applicant provides flattering information about the organization while seamlessly segueing into a question about its future.
“You’re one of the top data security companies in the United States. I recently read on your website that you serve almost 50 Fortune 500 companies, including big names in technology like IBM and Sony.
While your company is a great success, I know there’s interest in expanding your operations. I read a news article that the organization is also planning on offering data security services to financial institutions. How is that going, and can you tell me a little more about those endeavors?”
“What do you know about our company?” isn’t a question that should trip you up. As long as you do your research and prepare before your interview, your answer will do nothing but increase your chances of getting hired!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.