It’s hard to think of a more loaded interview question than “What could this company do better?” The interviewer is essentially asking you to call out the organization’s shortcomings, which you need to find a way to do without being overly critical.
The good news is, this question is a chance to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework while shining the spotlight on your own skills. We’ll explain how to do it here.
Why do interviewers ask what the company could do better?
An interviewer wants to know what you genuinely think about the company. Part of why they’re interested in hiring you is for your expertise, so they’re trying to get a feel for how your knowledge might be applied to help them.
Hiring managers also want to see how you answer the question in terms of your language and attitude. Are you tactful or condescending? Does your answer come from a place of genuine interest, or does it come off as self-righteous? This can give them valuable insight into how you’d conduct yourself if given the job.
What interviewers are looking for when they ask about how they should improve
Softening your answer with vague language isn’t the way to go here. Interviewers want to hear specifics that show you’ve done your research, so give an answer that’s concrete and relevant to the company.
They’re also looking to see if your answer aligns with their values, which is something you should research ahead of time. A progress-driven, boundary-pushing startup will be looking for a different answer than a conservative, long-standing industry leader.
How to answer
Begin with a positive
Frame your answer in a positive light by leading off with a compliment. It’s a chance to show you respect and/or admire the organization and would be excited to work there.
Connect your strengths
Cite a specific thing you’d change or that could be improved, then bring it back around to how YOU fit into the equation. For example, you might mention that the company could do more to attract new business, then highlight how you’d use your business development skills to achieve that goal.
Demonstrate shared values
Use your pre-interview research to learn about the company’s values and make sure your answer supports them. It’s great if you can give specifics that show how you’d contribute to advancing their mission–see some examples of this below.
How not to answer
Be overly critical
There’s a fine line between demonstrating your knowledge and coming off like a know-it-all. How you approach your answer can be an important indicator of culture fit, which is another element you’re being judged on.
Go too far outside the box
Make sure your suggestion isn’t too far out in left field. For example, if it’s a small, family-run company, they’re probably not going to be wowed at the idea of bringing in a radical new CEO.
Sample answers to “What do you think this company could do better?”
Use your answer to express enthusiasm about the chance to make a positive impact at the company while also highlighting the knowledge and skills you’d bring to the table.