Why do you want to work for us? Tips for researching employers and industry sectors

To be successful with applications, interviews and assessment centres you’ll need to have well-informed answers to questions like:

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What are some of the issues facing this sector?
  • What do you know about our competitors?
  • Tell me about a recent business news story you found interesting and why?

Successful answers to these questions go beyond repeating (however elegantly!) what organisations say about themselves on their websites. Getting along to employer attended events on and off campus is a very good way of getting original input to your answers. Find out what’s coming up at www.careers.qmul.ac.uk/events/index.html

However, it’s not always possible to meet an employer in person, so here are  some examples of other useful sources and how they can help.

  1. Ratings and awards listings e.g. ‘Best Companies’ www.bestcompanies.co.uk, www.ratemyplacement.co.uk and www.thejobcrowd.com

Best Companies produces lists every year of the UKs top 100 companies to work for and produces separate lists for the top 100 large, mid and small companies.

The really useful thing about these ratings is that the overall score is broken down into a number of different areas. Take this example of Intercontinental Hotel Group:

“As well as moving across countries, staff can transfer from hotel operations to a corporate role thanks to a national academy programme. Employees feel that the experience they gain at work will be valuable for their future (73%) and say their jobs are good for personal growth (74%)…77% (are) proud to work for the organisation.”

Referring to the kind of specific information above can give your answer a lot more impact than a general statement, such as “I would like to work for such an international and well-reputed organisation”.

Remember too that these listing include smaller companies. For example, applicants to MindCandy, a growing business in the online gaming sector could refer to the fact that Best Companies reports “Staff are excited about where the firm is going (93%)”.

Ratemyplacement can be used in a similar way for placements and internships. For example, reading reviews from interns at John Lewis Partnership could draw your attention to the need for adaptability and flexibility in the role and allow you to refer to and address this in your application or interview.

2. Industry overview websites

A useful one for the finance industry is www.hereisthecity.com. You’ll come across information specific to companies and also articles on trends and sector developments for example ‘Big Banks Unlikely To Pursue Large Merger Options In Next 18 Months

  1. Strategic Consultancies – Useful for applicants to all sectors!

Thought leadership is one of the aims of the strategic consultancies and you can access industry reports. For example,  Booz and Co (www.booz.com) has sector reports on retail, automotive, finance, consumer goods and many more as well as wider reports such as ‘How new ideas and practices taking shape in China will change global approaches to innovation’.

Also take a look at Bain & Company – for a wide range of insights, including ‘The future of shopping’. www.bain.com/publications/articles/the-future-of-shopping-hbr.aspx

4. Industry magazines – online and press

There’s a vast range of titles, but one to add to your list is www.marketingmagazine.co.uk which has insights on developments in many sectors, so is useful for applicants to many organisations and not just those with a marketing focus.

To get help with finding trade press for your sector, take a look at http://www.prospects.ac.uk

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