Careers

How to answer the interview question, 'What is the name of our CEO?'

Photo Illustration/Bryce Churchill
Photo Illustration/Bryce Churchill

One of the worst interview mistakes you can make is not prepping yourself with background knowledge about the company where you're interviewing.

To test just how interested a candidate is in a position, job search platform Glassdoor says interviewers will often ask, "What is the name of our CEO?" in order to assess how much research an applicant has done.

"[Employers] seek to understand one thing: Did you do your homework?" career strategist Mary Grace Gardner of The Young Professionista tells the site for its 50 Most Common Interview Questions series. "If you want to prove you are a good fit for a job, you have to put in the time to research the company."

To help, Gardner suggests candidates look up the latest news about the company, read an annual report about its status or hold an informational interview to get greater insight on the company and its culture. She also suggests reviewing the company's Glassdoor profile to get feedback from current employees.

CNBC contributor Suzy Welch echoes Gardner's advice.

To test just how much a candidate knows about the position and company, Welch says her go-to question in every interview is to simply ask the potential employee, "What did you do to prepare for this interview?"

"I myself have used this query for years, and oh, the answers I've heard — the good, the bad and the ugly — and always so revealing," she says.

One of the less impressive responses Welch received included a candidate saying, "I read your Wikipedia," which she says hardly demonstrated the resourcefulness she was looking for. On the other hand, one of her favorite responses was from an applicant who admitting to "stalking" Welch for three days by reading everything online about her as well as her two books.

"As a result, she came to the interview ready to talk not just about her fit for the requirements of the job — but my interests, values and, perhaps most impressive, the intellectual content of my life's work," added Welch.

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