What Do You Know About the Company? A Guide to Preparing Yourself for a Corporate Level Interview
It’s often the first question that you will be asked during a corporate level interview. So, what do you know about the company? And it’s a reasonable question. However, it’s also a loaded one.
A real interviewer isn’t asking whether or not you know what products they sell or what their share price is. Those are the answers they expect when interviewing for cubicle based roles. No, when it comes to corporate hires, they are looking for much more.
The answer that needs to roll off your tongue can be broken down into two parts.
What Is the Company’s Position in the Market?
Responses about their subscriber numbers, share price, or even recent management changes (that you happened to glean from a passing article on your phone) just aren’t going to cut it. Simply because the interviewer is looking for a driver, not an observer.
- Research information about how each of the company’s product lines compares to that of its rivals. This research should utilize actual comparable data.
- Discover where their presence in the market is dominant and what products are keeping them there.
- For companies that operate online, such as the Groupon Coupons page for Allen Edmonds, what are their infrastructure costs and how can these affect their pricing models?
- Find out about their internal structure, including any outsourcing models they utilize.
A response which relies on this type and level of information shows an interviewer that you know how to look past superficial positions to see what drives their growth. This suggests to the interviewer that you further know how to continue this drive.
What Are Their Current and Upcoming Challenges?
If your answer mentions beating their competitors by offering better products, you’re not putting yourself in a good position. Consider the following:
- Which points of presence are their competitors dominant?
- What demographics dictate that market dominance?
- Which product is the company in question offering to reach this demographic and why is it failing?
- What regulatory barriers does the company face?
- Where has the company recently seen significant growth, and why?
The above points are great starting off places to garner a solid understanding of where the company sits. It also tells the interviewer that you understand how product lines work, how they are targeted, and how to tweak individual parts.
Next, You Need to Know What They Will Be up Against in the Future
As an example, for companies that provide internet access, how are net neutrality regulatory changes likely to affect their business and advertising models is a great question to ask yourself and then answer in preparation. Of course, this question will need to be adapted to the specific company you are hoping to work for, but the idea remains the same. Consider the challenges you see the company facing, research them, and bring them into your answer.
Interviews at a corporate level are hard. And with good reason; you will have a large hand in running actual parts of the company, not just providing customer service over the phone. The tips and ideas mentioned above are great places to start if you are lucky enough to have landed yourself an interview and can really put you in a great position to get the job.