Interview panic question #3: Why do you want to work for us?

interview in progressIf you’re going through the interview process, you’ll be familiar with this panic question, or variants of it. It’s one that throws many job candidates because it often comes at the end of an interview – just when you’re starting to relax. Suddenly you have to switch gears from selling yourself to selling your future employer. And even if you’ve done your research, it’s hard to answer without sounding sycophantic. But… don’t panic!

Why do you want to work for us?

The answer: What they’re really asking here is ‘have you done your homework?’ So, have some succinct answers ready on the following. Most of this information can be gleaned from their website or basic searches.

  • Company facts and figures
  • What does the company do?
  • What are its aims?
  • Training programmes/ staff development
  • Business culture
  • Website / social media presences

Once you’ve done your research, think about how you fit in. CJ Walker, Firehead CEO, adds: “With so much information available today, there is no reason for you to go to an interview uninformed about a company. But don’t compile such a massive list that you lose yourself in the details and can’t articulate why you are a good match when your moment comes.

“The company wants to know that you know what they do, but they’re looking to hire a fit. This is the key thing you bring to the interview.”

What do you know about our customers/clients/audience?

The answer: Another variant that catches interviewees out is: ‘What do you know about our target audience; what challenges do our readers face?’ You can spend so much time preparing to answer questions about yourself that this is a sneaky one that may catch you out.

The best place to start is by reviewing the employer’s website for clues and seeing how communications are structured for clients and customers:

  • What themes, categories and tags do they use for their content?
  • How are they talking to their readers?
  • Do they have a blog? What are the most recent hot topics?
  • Look for reports, ebooks and white papers for the bigger topics.
  • Check the company’s social media sites for opinion and news.
  • What’s highlighted on the homepage on the morning of the interview?

CJ says: “Sometimes the company website may not reveal much. If this is the case, you may have to do some wider research into the audience. This can be a good thing because it gives you an opportunity to shine by showing how well you understand their market and audience.”

What do you know about what’s happening in our industry?

The answer: Look at the industry your future employer operates in, and research the current opportunities and challenges in their sector. If you have time, drilling a bit deeper in this way may help you stand out from the crowd.

You’re also likely to be interviewed by senior managers or heads of department so this is entering their world, and having this background knowledge will show them that you understand their issues and how you might address them through digital content.

CJ’s advice: “Build up a big picture around the sector you want to work in – search for white papers, trade magazines and blogs serving the industry, ebooks, subscribe to RSS feeds from industry blogs, look at their competitors. It may take some time and effort but none of this will be wasted when you get the job.”

Good luck!

Image: (CC) bpsusf/Flickr 

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