169
SO WHY US?
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CHAPTER NINE
SO WHY US?
A
lthough many candidates ask questions as an inter-
view progresses—and you may or may not encour-
age such deviations from your formal or informal
“script”—it’s always a good idea to give all candidates the time
to do so. But I strongly urge you to prepare for the detailed
questions some candidates will be ready to hurl at you. You
may need to research your own company a bit (and think long
and hard about the job description) to prepare for the most
inquisitive candidates!
Q: Do you know much about our company?
What do you want to hear?
Believe it or not, many candidates think this is merely an
icebreaker and simply answer “no.” I wouldn’t consider this
an automatic reason to disqualify an otherwise sterling con-
tender. But I would wonder why someone seemingly so capti-
vated by my company and this job (as he’s told me, over and
over again) would admit to doing no pre-interview research,
which indicates to me a total lack of interest.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS HIRE THE BEST PEOPLE
170
Why would someone go into one of the most important
encounters of her life so thoroughly unprepared, and then
admit it?
A successful candidate should have done her homework
and take this wonderful opportunity to show you how much
homework she has done.
Personally, I would like to hear a few salient (and posi-
tive) facts about my company, followed, perhaps, by a ques-
tion that demonstrates real interest. For example:
“Boy, what a growth story Starter Up is! Didn’t I
read recently that you’ve had seven straight years of
double-digit growth?
“I read in your annual report that you’re plan-
ning to introduce a new line of products in the near
future. I jumped at the chance to apply here. Can you
tell me a little bit about this division and the position
you’re interviewing for?”
Green light
Any answer that demonstrates a candidate’s pre-
interview research. The more informed he is, the
more likely you really are at the top of his list of
potential employers.
A detailed answer that indicates the breadth of research,
from checking out your Internet site, to reading your annual
report and being familiar with your products and services.
Referring to a trade magazine article that mentions the com-
pany or, better yet, you, the interviewer, is a nice touch, don’t
you think?
STOP
GO
171
SO WHY US?
Red light
A “no” answer followed by a dull stare.
Variations
f What do you know about the community (town,
city) in which we’re located?
f In which of our offices would you prefer to work?
f Would you have a problem traveling among a few
of our offices?
Following is my own list of questions a candidate should
have tried getting the answers to before the interview. Notice
that I said “tried.” Not all such information will be easily ob-
tainable, especially if you’re a small, privately held company.
So, as part of your preparation, presume that a good can-
didate will be asking you some of these questions:
Questions about your company
f What are the company’s leading products or ser-
vices? What products or services is it planning to
introduce in the near future?
f What are the company’s key markets and are
those markets growing?
f Will the company be entering any new markets
in the next couple of years? Which ones and via
what kind of distribution channel(s)?
f What growth rate are you currently anticipating?
Will this be accomplished internally or through
acquisitions?
STOP
STOP
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS HIRE THE BEST PEOPLE
172
f Who owns the company?
f Please tell me about your own tenure with the
company.
f How many employees work for the organization?
In how many offices? In this office?
f Is the company planning to grow through its
acquisitions?
f What has been the company’s layoff history in
the last five years? Do you anticipate any cut-
backs in the near future and, if you do, how will
they impact my department or position?
f What major problems or challenges has the com-
pany recently faced? How were they addressed?
What results do you expect?
f What is the company’s share of each of its
markets?
f Which other companies serving those markets
pose a serious threat?
f Please tell me more about your training programs.
Do you offer reimbursement for job-related edu-
cation? Time off?
f What is your hiring philosophy?
f What are the company’s plans and prospects for
growth and expansion?
f What are the company’s goals in the next few
years?
f What do you like best about this company? Why?
f What is the company’s ranking within the indus-
try? Does this represent a change from where it
was a year or a few years ago?

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