Late Victor Kiam, President, Remington Products, Inc., a Harvard Business Graduate, started his career as a salesman with Lever Brothers. In 1979, with less than $ 1 million of his own money, he bought Remington. He’s famous for his saying: “I liked the shaver so much I bought the company.” In his best selling-book, Going for It, he shares his thoughts on job interviews:
“It boggles my mind how often someone will come to me for a job without knowing a thing about the company beyond the identity of its chief product. The common attitude towards interviews seems to be that you just show up. Absolutely wrong! I’ve never gone into an interview without having acquired as much intelligence on the company as I could.
When I went for my first interview at Lever Brothers, I walked in with both pistols drawn and loaded with facts. I knew they were a part of Unilever, a large international conglomerate that transformed basic commodities……..I had found out the name of its chief executive officer and a few of its board members. I had an idea how much of its market was domestic and how much was foreign. A list of the company’s wares, including some of the more obscure ones, had been part of my required reading……..
When the personnel manager at Lever Brothers asked me if I knew anything about the company, I ran down a list of their products, mentioned some things I had read in their annual report, and told him what I knew about their advertising. Then I asked a question of my own. Pointing out that the company had just moved its headquarters
from Boston to New York, I asked him how this would affect the company policy concerning promotions. I pointed out that a number of executives hadn’t gone along with the move and asked if this had left the corporate hierarchy unsettled. One question lead to another until finally I asked if he liked working for Lever Brothers and what he thought the company’s strong points were. You can see what happened. Our roles were reversed. I had become the interrogator. This gave at least the feeling that I was there to make a decision about the company, instead of its making on me. Creating this atmosphere has to work to your advantage.”