Interview Insights | Interview Question: How did you hear about this position?

Interview Question: How did you hear about this position?

This question is a great excuse for you to explain why you were drawn to the opportunity.

In some instances, you heard about this job from a contact who works within the firm.

In other instances, you were researching your McKinsey, Tuck, or some other database.

It’s very helpful to think through your response for a myriad of reasons.

Not all internal referrals are helpful. Not all insiders are equal either.

It all depends on that contact’s internal reputation.

If you know that your contact is respected within your target organization then drop names and emphasize how your contact thought you would be a great fit and contribute to the company.

If for some reason you think that your insider has a tainted reputation then rethink your response. You can point to your research on the company, the position, or the required experiences.

Do not use your insider’s name at all costs.

Oftentimes my clients find their jobs through recruiters, job boards, or other anonymous sources. In those cases you can explain your framework for identifying the right jobs and then you can connect the dots and explain how this job was a great match.

Here’s an example:

I was researching LinkedIn for openings in sourcing and procurement. At that point, I had narrowed down my choices to those within Disney’s Integrated Supply Chain Management team. What really matters to me is that sourcing and procurement is valued within an organization — this is essential.

The way that I evaluate this criterion is by uncovering your investments in the team by way of talent, resources, and training programs. I also considered your stated mission that you want to “unleash the innovative potential of the supply base.”

I was happiest at Target when I had that opportunity to unleash greater vendor relationship potential — when I spearheaded the indirect IT spending of $600 million USD while managing 20+ buyers located within 11 countries. When I renegotiated the mobility plans with multiple US carriers, I achieved breakthrough cost savings. It was then that I was able to repurpose that spend to buy state of the art technology to support our merchandising team.

In a similar way, I imagine that there are ways to restructure existing vendor deals at Disney. Your mission gives me the impression that you would be open to these conversations and that made me extremely interested in applying to the job so I’m very happy that I found the ad.

The insight is that you carefully evaluate how you answer this question. You should also reinforce why you want the job.

Melissa Llarena’s craft is coaching top executives on how to strategically dissect and deliver the perfect job interview. Get instant access to a 20-page interview preparation kit that will give you an edge. Join the thousands who’ve read her career insights in Forbes and The Huffington Post. Follow her at @CareerOutcomes.


Originally published at melissallarena.com on May 27, 2015.