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Community Service

I'm just now starting my job search for a career in sales, as I will be graduating from my University in May. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with community service linked with your company? In all of my interviews I have asked what the company does in terms of community service and giving back to the community. I've found that most places are quite caught off guard with the question but they soon find that they do more then they first thought.

Just wondering if anyone's company does a lot for the commnunity or if you have any suggestions as to what some companies can get into. - by poconnor
In all of my interviews I have asked what the company does in terms of community service and giving back to the community. I've found that most places are quite caught off guard with the question but they soon find that they do more then they first thought.
My answer here might tick you off, but…

An interview is nothing more than a sales call. As such, you shouldn’t be asking your client what they do to give back to the community because you should already know the answer based on the research you did before the interview. More importantly, your question could come across as high handed or uppity. Even worse, you may embarrass your interviewer if he feels the answer is in any way inadequate. Let’s face it, you won’t impress you potential employer when they have to answer “gee, I don’t think we really do anything for the community.”

The more impressive question would go something like this: “Ms Jones, I see that your company puts on an art auction for the local boys and girls club. That’s impressive. Tell me a bit more about how that got started.” This way you impress them with your preparation for the interview. Potential employers love to see that you took the time to research their company. It also lets them know that you are serious about the job, and will likely put the same sort of effort into the position if you are hired.

Best of luck on your search!
Bill - by Bill_Kistner
I totally understand where you are coming from with your response. I guess what I should have asked was when I asked this in an interview at a smaller company that possibly doesn't advertise it on their website or have it publicly available. - by poconnor
I totally understand where you are coming from with your response. I guess what I should have asked was when I asked this in an interview at a smaller company that possibly doesn't advertise it on their website or have it publicly available.
I got ya... and sorry it came off a little brash. I have to stop typing before that first cup of coffee!

Still, often you can pick up a lot of infor armed with a few bits of information and a good search engine. If no info at all is available that might give you an idea as to what the company's favorite charities are, I would suggest moving the conversation toward that information the same way you would do if you were trying to convince a client; by asking questions. Most people love to talk, especially about there own interests! So, lead the conversation by asking questions, then use the answers to compliment the interviewer about their company's efforts.

Shiny Side Up!
Bill - by Bill_Kistner
My answer here might tick you off, but…

An interview is nothing more than a sales call. As such, you shouldn’t be asking your client what they do to give back to the community . . .

Actually, Bill and poconnor, I repectfully disagree here. The assumption is that the employer is offering the empoyee something and the employee gives nothing to the employer. Perhaps in unskilled labor, an employer can get away with this sort of arrogance, but the reality is that the employee is giving his time, his knowledge and his experience. If the employer doesn't not appreciate this fact, I would not want to work for him.

On the other hand, I do agree with you, Bill, that the interview is a sales call, but for the interviewer as well as for the prospective employee. As such, both parties should be sensitive to the perceptions of the other. There may be more polite ways of asking about a company's interest in community service, such as, "How does your company feel about community service?" That way, if this area of a company's social obligation has been overlooked, it doesn't put the interviewer on the spot. Perhaps the company and/or the interviewer has a favorable opinion of community service even if the company has not seen fit or had occasion to pursue any efforts in that area. The interviewer might see you as a potential leader to contribute something to the company in this area. ;sm - by rlabston
Actually, Bill and poconnor, I repectfully disagree here. The assumption is that the employer is offering the empoyee something and the employee gives nothing to the employer. Perhaps in unskilled labor, an employer can get away with this sort of arrogance, but the reality is that the employee is giving his time, his knowledge and his experience. If the employer doesn't not appreciate this fact, I would not want to work for him.
My thoughts were more centered on the idea of putting yourself at the top of the list when it comes to the other perspective employees, and furthering your chance not only of an offer, but of a higher offer. In this sense, you are making a sales call, and as such it behooves you to show your customer just how valuable your product is.

I don’t see how this means that the employer has all of the cards, and the perspective employee has none, however. Hopefully, you have done your research and know what sort of company it is before you walk in the door. Yes, the perspective employee will have to learn more about the company and its culture, and therefore will have questions. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to put your customer on the spot like that.


On the other hand, I do agree with you, Bill, that the interview is a sales call, but for the interviewer as well as for the prospective employee. As such, both parties should be sensitive to the perceptions of the other. There may be more polite ways of asking about a company's interest in community service, such as, "How does your company feel about community service?" That way, if this area of a company's social obligation has been overlooked, it doesn't put the interviewer on the spot. Perhaps the company and/or the interviewer has a favorable opinion of community service even if the company has not seen fit or had occasion to pursue any efforts in that area. The interviewer might see you as a potential leader to contribute something to the company in this area.
I like this approach much better. Work it in as a discussion. Put the employer at ease, just like you would a perspective customer. During many sales it is vitally important to ascertain from your customer information, the divulgence of which might make your customer a bit uneasy. By gaining rapport you earn the right to ask, both in the sale of yourself in an interview, and with the sale of a product or service during a normal sales call. Like you say, you want to make it a discussion, not he Spanish Inquisition!

Happy Selling!
Bill

"all lies in jest, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest"
-Paul Simon from “The Boxer” - by Bill_Kistner
Its great way of giving back to community what you can and even making money out of it - by mtajim
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