Being asked about what you would do when you start a job you have not yet actually successfully snagged can seem a little unfair. But with a little planning and thought about what the interviewer is really looking for out of this question, it can be a very effective way to show your planning, your research, and your ability to hit the ground running – and a good answer can put you head and shoulders above other candidates.
Read on for some ideas about how to offer a knockout answer to this tricky interview question.
1. Demonstrate Your Understanding of the External Environment
This question is a great way to show the interviewer the research you have done on the company, the sector more broadly, and the marketplace in which you are operating. Your answer should include hints at the information you have already gathered and the insights you have already drawn, but also ideas about how you would work to quickly understand the business better once you have joined.
You may, for example, talk about completing a SWOT analysis on the business or your part of the organization, which you can start with your research and complete once you join to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the company. You could also talk about your understanding of the competitors, and how you would increase your knowledge and expertise on your new business’ plans to counter them once you sign up. Just remember the question is asking for action, so your answers should describe what you know already, how you would increase your understanding once you join the company, and – crucially – what sort of relevant actions you might be looking to take once you have joined.
2. Show How You Would Get to Know the Internal Environment
The other important facet to this answer is to show how you would get to know the team as one of your first actions upon joining the business. Although the interviewer will be interested in action, he will also want to see that you do not propose a steamroller approach – and articulating your desire to get to know people, plans and culture will help achieve this balance.
The fact is that understanding a business is best done by talking to the people in it, and one of the priorities for any new joiner in any sector ought to be to talk to as many current employees as possible, at all levels, starting from grass roots and ideally including suppliers, clients, customers and other interested parties. Demonstrating your interest in understanding this holistic, 360-degree view of the business at interview stage will pick you out from the field.
3. Impress with Action Orientation
The final area to address within this answer is to show how you can assimilate information and plan action. It is unrealistic at the interview stage to expect candidates to have a particularly full plan for action but showing your intention to make recommendations and present your ideas is important.
It might be, for example, that even your research so far has helped you to identify the low hanging fruit – the opportunities you could easily capitalize on to make an impact. If you know the business has an issue with employee morale, supplier satisfaction or efficiency, then say so and give an insight into your ideas about how you might quickly start to assess and address this known issue.
This interview question can pick out the serious candidates from those who have come along for the ride. If you really want the position, it is likely you will have already done enough research to give a great answer – you just need to invest some time in putting your thoughts in order. By showing the interviewer that you have already made headway through your research in understanding the business inside and out, and would further your understanding before taking action, you’re helping them envisage you in the job already. Paint a compelling picture, and you could well find yourself signing on the dotted line and getting stuck into your new job.