June 8, 2016
It might seem like answering the question, “What’s your ideal company?” is all about you. But if you answer it correctly, this question can provide a great opportunity for your prospective employer to confirm or deny whether or not they’re an ideal company for you.
Here’s a three-step approach to this question that will help you find out more about your prospective employer.
Reflect on your experiences
Before you answer this question in an interview, think through how you really feel. What have you liked and disliked about companies you’ve worked for in the past? This could refer to the company’s size (large or small), purpose (for profit, government, or nonprofit) or industry (serving a particular kind of client).
Keep in mind that it won’t do you any good to bend the truth or default to preferring whatever kind of company you’re interviewing with – you may end up with a job you don’t like, and you’ll have to start the interview process all over again.
Be specific about the benefits
After you reflect on your experiences, use whichever details jump out at you to bring the conversation back to this job and this employer.
Don’t stop at “I enjoy working for large companies.” Dig deeper into what you perceive to be the benefit of working for a large company so the interviewer has an opportunity to discuss their company’s equivalent benefits. If you prefer large companies, be specific about what you appreciate, such as increased stability in your day-to-day functions or a wide network of peers.
If you can’t think of anything that attracts you to a particular kind of company, think of bad experiences you’ve had with an organization and use that as a jumping off point.
For example, if you’ve had negative experiences in the past with a significant amount of transition in leadership, you can say that you’d like to work for a company with a stable leadership or board of directors. This will allow the interviewer to share whether or not the company will be experiencing change soon or highlight the company’s stability over the past few years.
When the interviewer asks you what you’re looking for in a employer, he’s really wondering whether or not you’ll be happy with this company in the long run. Don’t dismiss this question as a superficial way to compliment your prospective employer. Use it as an opportunity to learn more about whether or not the company would be a good fit for you.