“What Do You Know About Our Company?”

How many times have you been in an interview and gotten this question? Most first interviews involve this question, it’s an early screening question to see just how much you’ve researched and prepared. Interviewers use it to get a sense of what kind of worker you’ll be. How in depth will you go when they ask you to take on a task?

The truth is your answer to this question is a golden opportunity to outshine everyone else interviewing for the position. Especially for those entry-level positions right out of college. Because let’s face it, most people interviewing for that job don’t have a lot of experience. So interviewers have to gauge you more than ever off your answers to their questions.

How Not To Answer The Question

  • “Not much, really.” Are you kidding me? You better know SOMETHING about the company. If you say this, the interviewer will be counting the seconds until they end the interview.
  • “Well I know that you’re in __________ and that you have __________ # of stores and _______ # of employees. You’re headquartered out of __________ and your CEO is ____________.” Really? So you know about as much as anyone who’s ever looked at the company’s website or wikipedia page.

How To Answer the Question

  • “Well according to your most recent annual report, company profits rose so and so percent. That’s one reason why your company interests me, it’s on the rise and making money in tough economic times. I know that recently you released this new product/service, and that it’s being received well by the public. ________ Magazine said it’s ___________. And your CEO, _______ stated that in the coming years you’ll be looking to ______________.”
  • Be careful not to sound scripted. Sound like you just know a lot about the company and you’re thinking of these things off the top of your head.

I’m being vague on purpose. The answer varies greatly from company to company. But if you can cite specific examples about the company that’s been in the press recently, or bring up remarks made by the CEO in their annual report (or if you’re interviewing with someone that speaks publicly for the firm, recite what they’ve said recently).

If you can do this effectively, your interviewer will be blown away. Most people they interview will be giving them cookie cutter answers. Meanwhile here you are stating what’s in their annual report (10-k). Your interviewer is bound to have their interest in you peaked and you’ll land another interview, if not the job outright.


Professional Dress

There’s nothing more frustrating to me than someone walking into a professional setting not dressed professionally. Understandably, not everyone knows what is and what is not acceptable for dress. Below are some basic guidelines I found helpful, and a friend of mine found these images that sum it up nicely, for business professional AND business casual (men and women).

Note: Click the links to be taken to the images.

Women’s Business Professional
Women’s Business Casual
Men’s Business Professional
Men’s Business Casual

Additional Tips For Men

  • Invest in tie clips/bars and cuff links. Tie clips do wonders for your look. Plus if you happen to be walking around outside your tie won’t be flying all over the place. Cuff links add a bit of class, but aren’t as necessary.
  • ┬áDon’t get too flashy with interviews or until you know the company atmosphere! Don’t go in there wearing bright colors unless 1) company culture encourages it, or 2) you can pull it off. NOTE: FEW MEN CAN PULL IT OFF INITIALLY. So until you know for sure, play it safe.
  • LEARN TO TIE A TIE! And at bare minimum you should be tying a half-windsor. Go full windsor when you need to impress. Simply put, if the top of your tie isn’t flat, you’ve tied it wrong and you don’t look as good as you could and should.
  • Your tie should reach the middle of your belt buckle (unless you’re being a hipster). That’s how you know it’s the right length.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of your socks matching your shoes and not being too outlandish. The little things matter. Same with belt color/style.
  • Business casual is either a jacket and no tie, or a tie and no jacket. In most instances simply wearing a collared shirt is not considered business casual. (as always, there are exceptions, I work in an office that shuns ties and jackets).

Additional Tips For Women

  • Wear pantyhose. Always.
  • Heels shouldn’t be too high, but not too low either. Go simple, don’t get too flashy.
  • Don’t show cleavage in an interview. I understand you may be very attractive. But your interviewer may think negatively of you for it. Don’t risk it.

Sorry I don’t have much more advice for women. Obviously the above are guidelines, not rules. There are exceptions to all of these. But until you absolutely know for sure that anything else is acceptable for a specific instance or company, this should be your guidelines.

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