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Describe the ideal company for you?

Interviewers ask this question when they think there’s something about the job or company that won’t be a fit for you. They believe you’re overqualified for the job, or unwilling to do the type of work it requires. This question is very common in the current market in which many people are having to downsize their career – take a lower paying or less prestigious job or position in a “lower” career such as a former manager taking a job as a menial laborer.

Even if you insist you want the job, if you reveal your real desire is something different, you’re sunk.

The way to answer this question is to describe aspects of the current company and job. Use specific examples and reasons, and state them sincerely.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t have an ABC list of the qualities of an ideal company, but when I saw this job and researched this company, I can see that your commitment to quality and desire to help people improve themselves are in sync with my professional goals. I’ll be taking advantage on the education stipend, and I look forward to the challenge of meeting your high standards.”

Don’t be too gushing about the company, or you may be seen as trying to butter them up or lie your way in.

“I’ve wanted to work for you ever since I was in high school. Frankly, this is my dream job and dream company.” Unless it’s true, it likely won’t sound sincere. If it is true, express other reasons, such as matched qualifications or goals, for wanting to work there.

If you’re coming from a much larger company, or a higher paying job with more prestige, or a company that leads the field, or all of the above, you have to calm their fear that they’re a second banana, and that the move is too far beneath you to make you happy.

Even if you’ve said nothing to indicate it, or given other signs, you have to dispel their fear that you don’t take them seriously. Do it by knowing their qualities and strengths that set them apart from other firms, even bigger and more impressive firms.

“Yes, I was a sales leader for the #1 company in the industry, and I loved the money and the respect that went with it. But I have a family now, and I want to continue in the business but with a company that respects family, and treats employees like people. This is a smaller city, and a company where I’ll be Karen instead of Mrs. Brown – those things fit where I want to be in life, both for my career and my family.”

One candidate gave the answer in the most direct way possible. “Yours.”

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