“So, what do you know about us?” the interviewer asks the job seeker. This question is taking job seekers by surprise, and it seems to be a make-or-break question. Answer poorly, and you have a tough time convincing them you are really interested in their job.
I’ve had several job seekers share that this was the first question they were asked when they sat down in the chair for the first interview or at the beginning of the phone interview (a.k.a., “phone screening”). Say some things that show you have done research on this employer and the interview continues. Have nothing to say about the employer, and the interview is over, even if doesn’t end immediately.
Why Are Employers Asking the Question?
This question is a test of the job seeker’s interest in the employer and the job. Did you just click on “Apply” like hundreds of others because you found the job posting, or did you read the whole description and are really interested in this job with us? If you are not interested enough in the job to do some research about the job and the employer, then the employer is not interested in you. Pretty simple.
So, What Should a Job Seeker Do?
As the Boy Scouts would say, “Be prepared!” It will save you time, too, ultimately by helping you avoid places you would not want to work.
Go through your list of target employers (you have one, right!), and check them out. It’s so easy to do today with the Internet
- Visit the employer website!What does it say on the “About” page – who are they, where are they, what do they do? Unless the website is comprised of hundreds of pages, spend at least 30 minutes checking it out.
What else does the website show you about them? If there is a careers or jobs section, check to see what it says about benefits (if anything) and to take a look at the jobs that are open. Are they adding a lot of sales jobs or a lot of training jobs or ? Does that give you any insight into what might be going on inside the company? Or, are only one or two jobs posted for a very large employer?
- Google/Bing the employer’s name.Check the first couple of pages of search results. Do you find good things, bad things, or a mix? Do the bad things seem to be plentiful and true? Are the good things plentiful and true?
If you belong to Google+, you will probably see a list of people in your Google+ network who are connected to the employer in some way. They could be very good sources of information for you, particularly as you advance through the levels of interviewing and interaction with the potential employer.
Google currently shows a particularly handy section at the bottom of the first page of results, called “Pages similar to…” which could show you new employers you might want to add to your list of target employers.
- If information is available, visit Yahoo Finance.Particularly if the employer is in the financial services industry, is a publicly-traded company with stock for sale on one of the stock markets, or the job is related to the stock market and investing, check the price of the company’s stock on the day of the interview, as close to the time you leave for the interview as possible. Such knowledge is a basic proof of interest and competence in financial services.
Even if you are not looking for a finance-related job, the information on Yahoo Finance is extremely helpful. Stock analysts make their living checking out companies and their products and services to see how well they are doing in the market – and, how well them may be doing in the future. Links to their reports and news is collected here.
This is a great source of “preventive” information – I’ve said for years that you don’t want to be the last person hired before the layoffs begin. This is one way to avoid that situation.
Simply go to finance.yahoo.com, and, at the top of the page, type in the stock market symbol (like “IBM” for IBM). Then, click on the “Get Quotes” button to find the current stock price, plus historical stock pricing and current news about the company. If you click on “Profile” under the “Company” heading in the left column, you will find a ton of excellent financial information about the company.
If the company does not have stock traded publicly in a stock market, you won’t find information in Yahoo Finance.
- Check Indeed.com.On giant job aggregator Indeed.com, do a “What” search with the employer’s name to see what jobs are posted. Then, look for gold stars beside the employer name in the job postings. If you find gold stars, click on them to read reviews by current and former employees. At the bottom of every posting is a list of links – click on the “more” link to discover much more information about the employer, including a company page where much of the information is centralized for you to review.
Also, check to see what other information Indeed can tell you about the company by clicking on the words “Salary Estimate” “Title” “Company” “Location” and “Job type” in left column of the results page.
- Explore LinkedIn. Of course, LinkedIn provides a ton of information about most medium-sized and large employers, including colleges, universities, and non-profit organizations. Check out the “connections” to discover who you know who works/worked for this employer (or who knows someone who does/did work there). Also do a search through the Company pages for the employer’s name to find a real gold mine of information.
Apply only where the “fit” is good, and so is the employer. Doing this research will help you determine the fit as well as dazzle them when they ask the what-do-you-know-about-us question.
Good luck with your job search!
More About Job Interviews
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org, is a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a columnist on HuffingtonPost. Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.