business woman answering hiring manager what do you know about our company?

What Do You Know About Our Company? How To Answer This Tough Interview Question

A favorite amongst interviewers is the job interview question “What do you know about our company?”

What do you know about our company 1 The Career Upgrade

The reason why this is a favorite is not that they want you to educate them about their company.

And contrary to what many candidates believe, it is not because they want to catch you out either (unless you’ve been so unlucky that you happen to sit in front of a minority group of unprofessional interviewers that like to make the candidate squirm).  

No. It’s a favorite because it’s a way for them to check your interest level for the job and your seriousness about getting hired to their company.

Are you after THEIR job or just ANY job?

It is the genuine interest that the interviewer is looking for, and that is what you need to make sure to convey in your answer, which is exactly what we’ll cover in today’s episode.

You’ll learn what the interviewer is specifically looking for and how to structure your answer so that you’ll come across as authentic and genuine.

Let’s get started (and if you prefer to continue reading, just scroll past the video)!


CONTENT

⇒ Why it is important to show genuine interest

⇒ The key to a strong and genuine answer is in the preparation

⇒ How to structure the answer to “what do you know about our company?”

⇒ What to avoid if you want to come across as genuine

⇒ One: Don’t come unprepared to answer the question “what do you know about our company?”

⇒ Two: Don’t say anything negative

⇒ Three: Don’t mention specific employeese

⇒ Four: Don’t give a long-winded answer

⇒ An example answer to the job interview question “what do you know about our company?”

Why it is important to show genuine interest

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Here’s the thing. 

It takes a lot of time and effort for a company to fill a position.

They need to advertise the role. Make initial selections, schedule interviews, conduct these interviews. Then they’ll need to make a further selection, do more interviews, decide who to hire, prepare for the new joiner to start, onboard the new hire, make sure the new hire has what they need to be productive, and much more.

So, the last thing an employer wants to do is hire someone who isn’t really interested in the job or the company, only in the paycheck.

Think about it.

If you took a job just because of the paycheck, what happens if you don’t like the job?

You’ll probably start looking for a new one as soon as possible. Or, you become so unhappy that you stop caring whether you do a good job or not, and your attitude starts reflecting that unhappiness, and you stop getting along with your work colleagues or your managers.

No employer wants that. And the way to minimize the risk of it happening is to make sure only to consider candidates who are genuinely interested in the position and the company. 

So you could say that this is a QUALIFIER QUESTION

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The key to a strong and genuine answer is in the preparation 

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The question in and of itself is not difficult, and it doesn’t require a long answer either. But what it does require is that you prepare and do research beforehand. 

The best answer is one where you can show that you have a basic understanding of the company. Things like how long they’ve been in business, what their main product or service are (basically how they make money), their overall mission, and their company values. 

Ideally, you also want to show that you know who their competitors are and how they set themselves apart from those competitors.

You also want to showcase that you are keeping up with the company news. I’ll go into more detail on how to prepare your answer in a little bit, but what you want to do is to follow the company on social media and make sure you check their press releases as things like that. You’ll then bring up one or two things you’ve read related to their current activities. 

If you want to dive deeper into how to prepare for a job interview and what research you should do, and how to do it, make sure that you check out this video “How to prepare for a job interview” next. Also, download the FREE Job Interview Preparation Workbook here.

Research the company The Career Upgrade
Section 5 in the Job Interview Preparation Workbook has a great checklist to help you keep track on your research

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How to structure the answer to “what do you know about our company?” 

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You’ll start by sharing your basic understanding of the company. That could be one or two sentences that give a brief overview of your understanding of why they are in business and how they make money.

Then you’ll share something that indicates your keeping up with the company news.

Ideally, you should also add your view as to why they are better than their competitors because that indicates that you are so interested in the company that you’ve taken time to form an opinion.

This is an excellent way to boost the interviewer and make them feel proud to work there. But be careful; you don’t want to lay this on too thick, so you come across as ingenuine. It’s important that you strike the right balance.

You want to end your answer by expressing how right you feel that this company is for you.

For example, you can express that your personal goals are aligned with the company goals and explain why that is. Or you can say that your personal values are aligned with the company values and talk more about that if that is the genuine reason.

What you want to convey is an emotional connection with them and that you get what they’re trying to do and why they are in business. 

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What to avoid if you want to come across as genuine

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Before I share an example answer with you, let’s talk about what you should avoid if you want to come across as a strong candidate.

One: Don’t come unprepared to answer the question “what do you know about our company?”

You WILL get asked this question, and if you can’t answer it, you might as well not show up for the interview at all.

Very few companies will hire someone that doesn’t bother preparing for the interview.

If you’re not preparing for the interview, it is very easy for the interviewer to make the assumption (right or wrong) that you will probably not put much effort into your work. At least, that is the message you are sending when you are not preparing for the interview.  

Two: Don’t say anything negative

If there is a negative media storm going on involving the company you’re interviewing for, it can be tempting to comment on it, but I recommend that you avoid that temptation.

Instead, you can refer to it by simply saying, “Besides, the current focus on your company, here’s what I know….” and then you talk about all the positive aspects you’ve found out in your research.

Three: Don’t mention specific employees

If you know something about specific employees – don’t bring it up. You can mention that you know employees who work there, but don’t go into any details about what you know about them.

I recommend that you stay clear of this topic because you don’t know what the situation is with the employee you’re acquainted with. In most cases, being associated with an employee in an organization you’re trying to join is a good thing. Still, sometimes that employee may be an under-performer, a troublemaker, someone on disciplinary actions, etc. And by you saying that you are acquainted with that person, may work to your disadvantage.

So it is better to be on the safe side and stay clear of the topic altogether.

Four: Don’t give a long-winded answer 

Because you are being asked to share what you know about the company, it is easy to start including too many details in the answer. A solid answer to this question should not be longer than 30-45 seconds.

Alright, now you know what to avoid. Let’s look at an example of how to answer this question.

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An example answer to the job interview question “what do you know about our company?”

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First, start with your general knowledge about the company:

Actually, I know a bit about your company. I know it was founded in 2005 by Person X because she wanted to do X, Y, and Z. I also know that you broke even in the first few years and that you got acquired by company Y in 2018. What really excites me is your current products, X and Z. Competitor 1 and Competitor 2 have similar products, but yours are far better because of this and that. 

Then move into recent news to illustrate that you’re keeping up with what’s going on.

I read an article in Tech Crunch a couple of weeks ago about your recent launch of product Y, and I’ve also seen the positive responses on social media. The consumers love your new product, and I have to admit that I’m one of them.

Wrap up your answer by sharing why you feel personally connected

I have been using your products for many years, and product Y has been a real game-changer, in my opinion. I know it was developed based on customer feedback, and I love to work for an organization that listens so much to its customers and cares about them the way you do. But that’s not the only reason why I want to work here. I also know a great deal about your charity work, and there aren’t many companies out there that do what you do for the local community in all their office locations. So, when I saw that this role was open, I HAD to apply. 

You can finish this off on a high note by referencing the role. So, it may sound something like this:

And, of course, I’m very interested in the role.

Finishing the answer that way may be a natural segue for the interviewer to start asking you more specifically what interests you about the role.

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Your turn

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Now you know why you’re asked the job interview question “What do you know about our company?” and how to answer it. I hope you found it helpful.

What is your experience with this job interview question, and do you have any other tips on answering it? And what about those interviewers that seem to want to catch you out – have you come across them (and if you did, how did you handle it?)

Share your experience in the comments.

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How to answer the interview question What interests you about this position?
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Hi, I'm Petra Pearce

I recently pivoted my career from working as an HR leader for over two decades in global organizations and in places like Silicon Valley, Singapore and London, to now devote all my time helping corporate jobseekers land job offers fast by teaching them how to upgrade their interview skills.

FREE Workbook: 7 Simple Steps to Prepare For Your Next Job Interview

I’m sharing my secret for how I’ve been able to nail the interviews EVERY time!

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