Would The Customer Hire
By Gary Will
[Originally titled, "What you should know
about business", this article is an excerpt from the book, How to Prepare for An
Employment Interview, by Gary Will.]
Even if you can't find a lot of information on the
company interviewing you, you can have a good idea of many of the challenges facing them
and the areas where you could make a contribution. Most businesses share similar problems
and want similar benefits from their employees.
By understanding how businesses operate and provide value
to customers, you will be in a position to deduce ways that you can make a contribution to
an organization -- even if you can't dig up any specific information about them in your
Keep your eye on the customer.
The purpose of every business is to make a profit through creating & keeping
Businesses exist to create customers -- and they must do
this at a cost that enables them to stay in operation. For example, if their purpose is
merely to create customers, they can do so by slashing all prices in half. With this
strategy, the business will attract plenty of customers, but will eventually run out of
money and be forced to shut down. Creating and keeping customers is the fundamental
purpose, but there are always financial constraints.
Think about what you have to offer the company and answer
- What can you do to help them get or keep customers?
- How does what you see yourself doing provide value to
their customers? (This is an absolutely essential part of your preparation -- and
one ignored by most interview guides.)
A company makes a profit by offering something of value
to its customers. Even non-profit organizations exist to serve customers. An organization
without customers has no reason to exist, and there's no reason for anyone to devote any
resources to keeping it going (other than the expectation of having customers in the
The company may issue your paycheque, but it's the
customer who pays the bills. You create value for an organization to the extent that you
help them deliver value to their customers.
A common theme to the management trends and books of the
last decade has been that all organizations must be customer-focused or
"market-driven." Managers now understand that quality and value are defined and
measured by their customers. Success depends on the customer's perception of value,
relative to the perceived value of competitors' offerings.
What's in it for the customer?
All across North America and around the world, businesses and the work they
do are being rethought and reorganized to focus on delivering value to the customer.
You only offer something of value to a business if your
presence will add value to their customers. If you can't see how your job would add value
to customers, I'm afraid there's a good chance it won't be around very long.
Before your interview, think about how the work you'd be
doing will have an impact on the company's customers. "Quality" is a big
management concern these days, so anything you can do in the interview to convince the
employer that you would help them meet and exceed customer expectations is important.
- Be prepared to focus on how your skills and traits will
lead to satisfied -- and committed -- customers.
- Think about how the customer would receive less value --
be less satisfied -- if someone else was given the position.
As part of a focus on customers, all companies require
innovation to create new products and develop new markets, or to improve existing products
to stay ahead of ever changing customer needs and expectations. Any evidence you can
provide of your ability to be innovative or offer suggestions is also worth mentioning.
When interviewing, use customer-oriented business principles to determine how
you can add value:
- Who are this organization's customers?
- How is value created for customers?
- What are their requirements and expectations?
- What customer problems does this organization solve?
- What can you do to help the organization get and keep
- How can you help meet customer requirements and exceed
- How would you contribute to a superior customer
- What do you know about the future needs of this
- How will their expectations and requirements change?
- How can you be an advocate for the customer within the
- What evidence of innovation can you refer to in the
Copyright (c) 1996, 1997 by Gary Will.
Gary Will, of GaryWill.com Marketing, is a
marketing consultant and speaker based in Waterloo, Ontario (Canada) who really gets it.
Information about Gary's self-published book, How to Prepare for An Employment
Interview, is available on his web site. Please send your comments about this article
to The Headhunter.
The contents of this site are Copyright (c)
1995-2015 North Bridge Group LLC.
All rights reserved.
This material is for personal use only. Republication and redissemination,
including posting to news groups, is expressly prohibited without prior written consent.
Ask The Headhunter, Fearless Job Hunting, the ATH logo and other ATH titles are trademarks or registered trademarks of North Bridge
Group LLC and
Nick A. Corcodilos.
agreement, legal information and disclaimer.