Company sales are important even if you are not interviewing for a sales job. If you have reviewed several years of annual reports, you can easily see if the company's sales have gone up or down. Asking questions about the company's sales during an interview scores lots of points because it shows you have done your homework.
You can get ABC, Inc.'s past annual reports
directly from the company, the public library or the Internet. The
annual report may not tell you how well the company fares within the industry,
but it will tell you everything you need to show your interviewer how well
you can fit into the company.
Once you obtain a company's past annual reports, review the most recent report first. At the back of the report, you will find the name of the auditor, somebody like Smith and Smith Accounting. Reputable companies use a certified public accountant to show that the accounting methods used in the report conform to "generally accepted accounting principles."
Now turn to the front of the report and find the letter from the chairman of the board, whose personal style will be reflected throughout the report. The director will discuss the direction of the company, so pay attention to how he plans to run things in the future and whether he thinks the future looks positive for growth.
The company's financial growth is very important to both the company and to your salary requirements. You may not want to crunch the numbers yourself, but you will want to understand the balance sheet, the status of the company's finances at a given date. On the left are the assets, all of the organization's valuables. Current assets are those that the company can convert quickly to cash. On the right are the company's liabilities-what they owe. Current liabilities are the company's debts due in one year, paid out of current assets.
Net working capital, is a key figure to watch only if you have several years worth of reports to compare. In the current year, net working capital is the difference between current assets and current liabilities. Here is where it may be obvious that the company is cash rich. As a potential participant in the company's employee stock program, you will want to pay attention to the stockholder's equity.
Long term debt is important to consider relative
to equity. If the company's debt is high but equity is low, this
could depend on the stage of the company's growth. Read further and
you will find the income statement. How much did ABC, Inc. earn and
lose last year? Net earnings per share are an important part of the
income statement and a likely place for a footnote. Pay attention
to the net sales, which are also in the income statement. If you take the
time to compare balance sheets for several years, even as a financial layman
you will be using the annual report to your interview advantage.
Q. Why Should I hire you?
A. One of the most valuable things I can do for your organization is. . . help the organization make more money. . . provide the research experience in making ABC's widgets. . .
Q. What are your major strengths?
A. The ability to spend long hours writing computer codes, which would be an asset for ABC Inc. since you lead the industry in the development of software applications.
Q. What are your major weaknesses?
A. Let me give you an example of how I handled a situation pretty similar to the plant manager in Blahburg, USA, the example from page five of your annual report. Like him, I've learned how to better deal with this type of situation . . .
Q. What kind of pay do you expect?
A. Well, I think based both the industry standards and company sales records, the range of $35,000 to 50,000 is about right.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. One thing I like about ABC Inc. is that the company is 109 years old. I like that kind of longevity. ABC is the kind of company where I will have a career, not just a job.
Good answer, but does it really answer this question? It sounds as if this question is more general, maybe asking for, "I'd like to pursue science journalism at a major national magazine, particularly helping to translate complex information to the public. . . " Maybe an answer to "What do you like about ABC?" or "Where do you see yourself in ABC?"