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In job interviews I am frequently asked if I know the company, explain why do I think I would be the best choice for this company, etc and I have never liked this kinds of questions.

Using your experiences in job interviewing, what do you think it would happen if I ask the interviewer to explain me why he think the company is the best company for me and why I should accept their answer? Do you think it would be a good think or bad thing to do?

Edit: the idea of the question would not be to "challenge" the interviewer. The idea of the question would be to see what he thinks about the company, what values he thinks are given importance inside the company and what are the strong points of the company.

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closed as off-topic by MichaelT, GlenH7, jwenting, Bart van Ingen Schenau, gnat May 26 at 16:18

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It's a good question, though a question I like better is "What do you most enjoy about working here?" It sounds a little less confrontational/demanding (compared to "why should I work here?"). –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Mar 9 '11 at 14:57
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Another way of phrasing this question is "What are some of the reasons that led you to join this company?" or "What are some of the benefits that have positively influenced your employee retention?" (assuming, of course, that their employees do indeed stay around). It encourages a sense of camaraderie, and it is quite possible that their reasons for working there might be good reasons for you, as well. –  Zoot Mar 9 '11 at 16:07
    
This is not 100% relevant so I am putting this in a comment... This article talks about the different personalities in an interview, how to figure out who you need to impress or ask questions (quite entertaining as well): randsinrepose.com/archives/2007/09/25/the_button.html –  c_maker Mar 9 '11 at 16:12
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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the interview process and is not unique to programming. It would be a better fit for The Workplace, but is a duplicate of several questions there and too old to migrate. –  MichaelT May 26 at 2:27
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7 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I think it's a great question. Remember that interviews are a two-way process. They evaluate you to see if you'll fit into their team, but at the same time you need to evaluate the company to check that you'll enjoy working there.

If the company can't convince you that they're a good fit for you, why work there?

Greg suggests that you'll look arrogant, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. Suppose you're a junior developer - you're looking for:

  • Someone to mentor you.
  • A way to learn your craft.
  • Enough of a challenge to allow you to flourish, but not so much that you start drowning.

"Is this company the best for me?" in this situation means "Are you going to help me be a great programmer?" There's nothing arrogant about that.

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+1 for "interviews are a two-way process"! –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Mar 9 '11 at 14:57
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I wouldn't say "So why should I work here", but I would ask questions like "why do you like working here?" If they can't give you a good answer, well... –  jwernerny Mar 9 '11 at 15:19
    
+1 There is nothing arrogant about asking it in context of "are you going to help me be great". I wouldn't worry about asking this question too much because arrogance goes both ways. It's basic psychology really: If the employer take such a question as rude and arrogant, then maybe they're too arrogant and stubborn to care for their own employees. In such case, maybe their workplace environment isn't as great as they claim and you'd have to worry more about office politics. –  Spoike May 12 '11 at 12:16
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Usually, this quesion is phrased "Which benefits does the company offer? Anything beyond the usual standards?". Assuming you are not in a desperate situation, this is a very valid question to ask.

Asking the "Why is this company the best choice" question assumes that the other person knows what is most important for you, a relatively silly assumption. That said, his question "Why are you the best person for the job" assumes a similar knowledge about the companies priorities on your side, so it's just as silly...

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+1 for explicitly stating the silly assumption and that it is silly –  Sparky Mar 9 '11 at 16:01
    
Beyond the definition of benefits as I normally think of them (paid vacation, health care, 401(k) and match, etc), you want to look into the company culture as a fit. Asking "What do you like about your day-to-day job?" and "Do you have a typical day? What does it look like for you?" are ways to help assess that uqestion. –  justkt Mar 9 '11 at 16:03
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Many job hunting experts recommend that you avoid asking questions like "Which benefits does the company offer?", as it will make you look like you're not interested in anything beyond the compensation package. YMMV. –  GreenMatt Mar 9 '11 at 16:09
    
GreenMatt: I have a family to feed. Sure as hell do I want to know how well a job enables me to do that. –  user281377 Mar 9 '11 at 19:11
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@ammoQ: Get the job offer first then you can talk about the compensation. If they don't pay enough for healthcare then you can counter with a higher salary request. If they don't start you with enough vacation then counter with an extra weeks vacation. Although, once you get an interview the HR person has little say in whether you get a job offer or not, so if you need to ask those questions then that would be the person to ask. –  Dunk Mar 9 '11 at 20:05
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Using your experiences in job interviewing, what do you think it would happen if I ask the interviewer to explain me why he think the company is the best company for me and why I should accept their answer? Do you think it would be a good think or bad thing to do?

At most places, this is actually sort of expected. The interview goes both ways. If they aren't telling you why you should want to work there, to me it's a sign of trouble. Either they:

  1. Don't care about hiring anyone
  2. Aren't interested in hiring you (you may be there, because they need a 3rd candidate)
  3. Are hiding something.

If they aren't trying to sell you the reason to work there, then you should ask, as it may show them you are really interested and change their opinion, or it may uncover something that you should know before making a decision.

Here's an example, I interviewed at a place about a year ago. Talked to the devs, and at then end I was kind of BSing with the person who led me to the job (she worked there). We start talking about the perks, and there were a few detractors to the job, but I say "Hey at least the space is nice, and you get your own office."......then the bomb dropped, "Well, we're out of space and you don't get an office (although everyone else in the place did), and this place is expensive, so we moving someplace a lot cheaper within the year." Never would have known if we didn't talk about why it was a "great" place to work.

What you have to remember that the company needs you (or the person fulfilling the job). They aren't doing you a favor by hiring you. They are not trying to be your friend. They are using you for your skills to accomplish some goal, so they should be trying to sell you on taking the job.

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Yes, the part that "they are not doing you a favor by hiring you" is something people forget very easily. But it is something very difficult to get balanced. And your ideas of the reasons they do not try to "sell me" the company are very interesting. But unfortunately that is normal in my country: it is very rare a company that really tries to convince you to work there. Some doesn't even tell you to what client you are going to work for (in case of outsourcing). –  Oscar Mar 11 '11 at 8:14
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If you are extremely good at what you do (and what you are applying for) I'd say this would be a sure way to stand out in an interview.

If you are not, you're just going to look plain arrogant.

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Agreed. Try to do the research on the company as much as possible ahead of time, (Yes I know this is hard to do), that way you know ahead of time if they are a good match. –  crosenblum Mar 9 '11 at 14:55
    
@crosenblum - doing research is great (and expected). That doesn't mean you don't want to ask the developers what, in their eyes, makes their job valuable. As an interviewer I appreciate that question - it shows the applicant is interested in making a match not just getting any job. –  justkt Mar 9 '11 at 16:04
    
I think the wording and delivery could make the interviewee look arrogant, but simply asking why the company would be a good fit isn't. –  Robert Gowland Mar 9 '11 at 18:15
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If you want him to give you the sales pitch of the company then ask, "What do you think are the compelling reasons for me to consider a position here?" or something similar where the idea is to get the reasons why this job could be appealing to someone.

If you want more details on company values or strong points of the company those can be useful as well but be careful to do some research here as this may backfire. "What values are important here?" may be a poor question if somewhere on the company's public website is a page all about values that apparently one didn't read. Meanwhile, if you do find the magic words of the values and ask for practical situations where these are applied that could be a good question. The key is to ask for stuff that wouldn't be public but that the interviewer should be able to give as the company's vision for the next 3 years may not work out too well if the interviewer never sees the company roadmap.

Instead of the strong points of the company, you may want to ask what are the strong points of your new team or department which may differ a bit yet could be useful to know. For example, if you are in the IT department, is there a mentality of just get it done now without a focus on quality? These can be interesting to get a peek into the culture but do be careful to recognize that questions here have to diplomatic and you have accept answers will likely be sanitized to some degree.

"If you want to know what a moronic word 'lifestyle' is, all you have to do is realize that, in a technical sense, Attila the Hun had an outdoor lifestyle. Or that for the last two weeks of his life, Hitler enjoyed an underground lifestyle." - George Carlin

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+1 for quoting George Carlin :-) –  Sean Patrick Floyd Mar 9 '11 at 17:16
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Using your experiences in job interviewing, what do you think it would happen if I ask the interviewer to explain me why he think the company is the best company for me and why I should accept their answer? Do you think it would be a good think or bad thing to do?

You're under the impression that the job interviewer is an impartial person - he is not. His job is to find the best employee he can. If he were to tell you that he thinks that his company A is not the best place for you, and that you, with your qualifications and experience would be must better off at company B, he would in a way be doing his job against him. Just like you think from your, so does he, from his perspective.

That is why I believe, this is unreal. Idealistic question.

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You are right that the interviewer is biased. However, one can learn even from a biased answer, when taken with a pinch (or a boatload) of salt. –  Péter Török Mar 9 '11 at 15:58
    
The interviewer also might be completely different from you as a developer. What he loves about a job may be that he has nearly total autonomy while you value learning through collaboration with your team. Knowing that all he does is sit in his office without team interaction and he thinks that's awesome is valuable. –  justkt Mar 9 '11 at 16:06
    
@Peter Torok - Well, if you put it like that, that goes for pretty much everyone. –  Rook Mar 9 '11 at 16:18
    
@Rook what I am interested is not the answer itself, but how he gives it and what kind of values he will prioritize. In extreme examples, just to make it clear, if the first thing he says is "we have high salary" and keeps very serious you will have a different impression than if he says "we have a great environment and we are employee friendly" and gets excited about it. Of course, it is not a precise science, but it is just one factor of many ;). –  Oscar Mar 11 '11 at 8:20
    
@Oscar - What if the HR don't have high salaries? Sorry I don't see it ... the whole model's flawed, IMO. –  Rook Mar 11 '11 at 13:05
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I find this a great question, so much so that in fact I asked variations of it several times in job interviews. As others pointed out, it may sound arrogant if asked the wrong way. So I accompany it with a smile, making it more playful. And of course I ask it only if I find the interviewer leasurely enough to not take it the wrong way (if not, I may not want to go to that company anyway...).

With the above caveats, so far it worked well and noone took offense of it. Interviewers anyway tend to boast about the values and uniqueness of their company, but usually from the market point of view. So challenging them to explain why would it really stand out from the crowd from a SW developer's perspective is a great way to shift perspectives (if possible - in some companies the interviewers may not have the slightest idea of how developers think, and what they value... decide for yourself whether you would like to work at such a company :-).

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