Imagine an engineer being interviewed at Google:
“Have you seen our website?”
“Oh sure, I’ve been to goggles.com.”
“Do you know what we do here?”
“Something about searching, I think. You do some advertising too, right?”
That’s a ludicrous scenario only because Google is so well-known. Everyone interviewing there nowadays knows exactly what their website looks like and is aware that they are the world’s most popular search engine.
Sadly, the same conversation plays out every day in technical interviews around the world in companies smaller than El Goog. The candidate arrives armed with a smart suit but is lacking even a basic knowledge of the company’s products, goals or technology and the interviewer quickly realizes they are wasting their time.
You may think that’s harsh, but consider the candidate’s motivations. By not bothering to understand the company, they are implicitly declaring that they want a job purely to benefit them. They look at job descriptions for a few techie keywords that they recognize, and email across their resume. They don’t know — and don’t care — that their potential employer is looking for passionate people to become part of a team that will work together to build something revolutionary or make huge gains in the market. They’ll be a 9-to-5’er, doing exactly the minimum work required and no more. Unless the position is for mindless data-entry, the company is not going to benefit from having someone so self-serving on their payroll.
Therefore if a candidate hasn’t even bothered to look at what the company does before going there to ask for a job, they should be quickly shown the door. However if you’re like me and enjoy hearing dreadful answers to softball interview questions, you’ll always ask them one final thing before escorting them off the premises:
“So, why do you want to work here?”