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“Why do you want to work here” is a tough question.
Acing a job interview isn’t something that can happen without any preparation. Think about it.
- You must search for jobs to find the ones you are qualified for, tailor your resume to match the job description, and then complete the application before waiting for the call saying you’ve been selected for an interview.
You probably put at least a few hours work into your resume along with some additional TLC to perfectly craft it for each job you apply to.
- You should do that same when preparing for an interview.
Sure, you might have a stellar resume that scores several job interviews, but having cookie-cutter answers to important questions won’t get you hired.
- Your resume sells your skill set, but you still need to sell yourself as someone who will contribute to the company.
There are some common questions that you’re practically guaranteed to be asked in an interview. “Why do you want to work here?” is one of them.
Sure, the question seems pretty straightforward, but the answer is not so simple. Let’s dive right in!
What are they REALLY asking?
You won’t be doing yourself a favor if you don’t fully understand the additional questions that are being asked in this single question.
Of course, you want to mention why you want to work there. Additionally, they’re also analyzing your answer for why they should hire you.
Here are some hidden questions within the question:
- What do you know about us?
- How will you contribute to our organization?
- Do your values align with ours?
- How do you see yourself with us in the long term?
- What does your future look like here?
- Why should we hire you?
That’s a lot more than you probably imagined. This simple-yet-complex question has the potential to make or break your interview.
Before Crafting Your Answer: Research and Reflection
If you think that you can provide the same answer to this question in every job interview you have, you are so wrong.
However, here’s an idea of what you don’t want as your answer:
I want to work here because it seems like a good company. I have all the skills you are looking for, and it pays pretty well.
Every company is different, so your reasoning for wanting to work at each should be different, too.
There are several points you can cover when responding to this question. These points require research and reflection.
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Research the Company
Maybe you have a friend or family member that works there, and they told you they love the company. That’s great!
But why do YOU love the company?
To answer this question, you’ll want to dig in and take a look at the following things.
Nearly every company has a mission statement.
- It gives you an idea of what the objective and values are for that organization.
If you don’t align with them, do you really want to work there?
- Do you identify with a company’s philanthropy, ethos, or reason why it was founded?
If the company works toward an idealistic vision of the future, political goal, or societal solution, read up on it. If you support the vision or end goal, be sure to mention this during your interview.
Companies want to hire team members who are motivated to achieve something greater than themselves.
Every company provides a product or service, so you should be familiar with what they are.
- You might not be applying for a position in the sales department, but knowing what the company is offering to clients is important.
If you don’t agree with what the company is selling, why would you help them sell it?
Moreover, if you love the product and want to improve it, the company’s hiring manager will look favorably on your job application.
People who are passionate about specific products are more likely to think of ways on how to improve them. This adds to the company’s bottom line and helps everyone on the team succeed.
There are so many ways to learn more about a company’s culture. Having friends or family members that work for the company is the easiest way to get first-hand information.
- Ask for a tour or shadow experience for a day to formulate your own opinion of the culture.
- Additionally, Glassdoor is a wonderful resource for finding employee testimonies.
You can even reach out to current employees on sites like LinkedIn.com and ask them questions about their work life.
- Perhaps you heard great things about the company – share these anecdotes and stories with the hiring manager.
- Then, connect the themes of these stories with your desire to work there.
Maybe you enjoy lax work environments where personal well-being is prioritized. If you heard a story that motivated you to apply to the company, let the hiring manager know why the story appeals to you.
Motivated employees are the best. They are always looking to improve the workspace and help the company win.
By reading recent press releases, you’ll be up-to-date on company news.
- This is a great strategy to prove you know about the company.
It will also help you form a deeper opinion on how you can contribute if you were hired.
After performing research, part of your response could include:
“I would love to be a part of the PPG team because it values integrity, innovation, and sustainability, which are three things I also value. As a hockey fan, I think it’s great that PPG is the company that developed a coating to improve the game. I want to be part of a company that can bring those improvements to life.
After speaking to current and former employees and touring the facility, I can see myself really enjoying working here. Your company values of integrity and customer service align directly with my own. I want to work for a company that truly puts the customer first.”
You also want to determine the value this job could bring your future.
Unless you’re in a position where you simply need a job to make ends meet, you should pick jobs based on how they can help your career ambitions.
Here are some thoughts to consider when crafting this portion of your answer.
Getting a job at any company doesn’t mean you have to work there your entire career, but it should offer ways for you to develop professionally.
- Look at trainings that are offered to employees and how they support their staff.
If you feel like you might just be a paper-pusher without getting any additional tools or support, you might not want to apply.
- On the other hand, if you have ambitions, be sure to let the hiring manager know how this opportunity will help you achieve your goals.
Ambitious employees have a reason to bring their A game. They want to do their best, climb the professional ladder, and achieve success.
That’s why they’ll contribute to the team, do anything to gain experience, and grow the company’s bottom line.
When you look at how the company operates, is it a structure that you can move up in?
If a company is known for putting their employees in the best position to succeed, you can make this a part of your pitch.
- Hiring managers want team members who want to grow.
- Employees who grow within an organization will help the company defeat its obstacles and shortcomings.
These types of team members become star employees. They become leaders within the company structure.
Most people don’t plan to stay in entry-level positions their entire career, so understanding your potential for promotions is important.
- Similar to the organizational structure, you’ll want to know if that potential exists for you.
Are you planning to go through more schooling or training to work your way up through the company?
Do you need additional degrees to join management or the c-suite?
Here’s what you could provide in the next part of your answer:
“AT PPG, I love that they provide on-site training to their employees and have leadership opportunities available for top performers. One of my goals is to manage people, and I believe my integrity makes me a valuable asset that puts me on a management career path.
For now, I really believe I can do this job well with the skills I have and knowing that PPG will ensure I can do it to the best of my ability with any training I need. I’ve also read that your company encourages employee development, which is something I envision doing.
My goal is to learn additional management skills, along with database training and client relations. I want to work for a company that invests in its people.”
This might seem a little strange to consider, but it can mean a lot to the interviewers, especially if you’re applying from another area.
- This is one area that you could leave out of your answer, but it could boost you above the competition if you can prove you already see yourself living nearby.
Do some research on the nearby area to see if it incorporates any of your hobbies and interests.
You can also take a look at what type of commuting options are available based on your potential residence.
If you choose to mention the location in your answer, it might go something like this:
“After doing some research about Pittsburgh, I found that this area has a lot for me if I’m offered a position at PPG. I love that the office is located downtown so I can walk or ride my bike to work.
It would be so cool to go to hockey games after work when I can, and it’s a short walk away from the office. Also, I saw that Chipotle, one of my favorite lunch places, is only two minutes away.”
What Not to Include
When answering this question, there are some points that you should steer away from.
These can turn off the interviewing team and make them second-guess your real motives.
Salary and Benefits
It’s possible you might be asked about salary in another question, but this is most definitely NOT the response you’ll want to bring up money.
- Focus on selling your skill set and how you see yourself filling the position rather than filling your pockets.
Even if the benefits package is stellar, this should not be mentioned when explaining why you want to work there.
- Companies want employees that will contribute to their service and mission, not one that is worried more about the benefits that come with the job.
Yeah, it might be really cool that you could have your next degree paid for, but that shouldn’t be the sole reason you want to work for a company.
Some companies are moving toward more flexible time-off policies. As cool as they are, it shouldn’t be the focus of your reason for wanting to work somewhere.
If an interview panel senses that you might abuse that policy or any policy, that might deter them from offering you the job.
Negative Things About Past Employers
If you’re hoping to move out of your existing position at another company, you may be tempted to compare your past employer with your potential new one.
- Speaking ill of your previous employer might leave a sour taste in their mouth. Instead of speaking negatively, focus on the positives of the company you’re interviewing with.
Make sure you don’t catch yourself saying anything like this during your interview:
“At my last job, I wasn’t making enough money to pay my bills, so I had to cancel my cable. With this job, I could finally get that back and use the actual skills I learned in college. Also, my manager never gave me the time off I needed when I wanted to travel to visit my family in California, and this job seems like I’ll be able to have that time and money to see them more.”
These things might be true, but there is a better way to phrase the same concepts more professionally and appropriately.
“I’ve learned to cut back and prioritize what’s really important in my life. This job would fulfill me more, especially because I’ll be utilizing the skills I learned when studying manufacturing engineering. Prioritizing my career is important to me at this point in my life. I want to work doing what I enjoy. While I haven’t had many opportunities in the past to do so, I know this is all a part of being a consummate professional. Now is the time. I’ve built my skills in the industry and see myself taking my performance to the next level. Here, now, I’m looking for the opportunity that takes my contributions to the next level.”
How to Prepare
Now that you have all the information to craft a beautiful answer to this question, you’ll want to practice before the interview day.
Before you take a seat in front of the interviewer, do the following to really wow them.
- Make a list. As you do your research, make sure you’re tracking all the positive information you come across. Creating a list is the easiest way to keep all the information in one place without worrying about finding it again.
- Write out your response. Physically writing out your response will help solidify the reasons you want to work for that company. If it feels unnatural or forced to write, that could mean you’re not being truthful. It can also mean you haven’t reflected deeply enough.
- Say the words out loud to determine if they sound natural. You might tweak some wording or realize another word fits better to convey your. As you practice, you can go off script a bit to make your response so more authentic. Don’t sound like a robot during your interview.
- Get feedback. Reciting your response to a friend or family member is a great way to get feedback. If the person knows you well, they might question whether you’re being truthful and challenge why you really want to work somewhere.
Advice from Professionals and Experts
We asked a few professionals what they had to say about answering this interview questions.
They bring years of expertise to the table. This is what they had to say.
From Salina Hoque, director of human resources and community engagement at Sweet Briar College:
Many hiring managers may ask this question to help figure out how you would fit in with the culture of the workplace or to understand your motivations in applying for the job and whether you’re likely to stay in the role for a while.
By asking this question, hiring managers can learn about your career goals and how this position fits into your plan. The question is used to make sure that you are sincerely interested in the job and will be motivated to perform if hired.
And ultimately, to understand your priorities and preferences — which aspects of the workplace and/or job are appealing to you and why? Your answer to the question of “why do you want to work here” should emphasize your interest in working hard and developing on the job.
From Nate Masterson, the HR Manager of Maple Holistics:
Before you walk into the interview, you should already have an answer to this question. When asked why you want to work somewhere, you actually need to address two questions instead of one.
You first need to say why you want to be a part of the company and then you can say why you want the specific position.
Addressing both the company and position will make you more appealing to your interviewer. You should not say “I want to work here because I need a job and this one pays well.” They already know you’re looking for a job, no need to state the obvious.
A perfect answer should include something you appreciate or respect about the company paired with why your skills meet with the job requirements. Answers will vary based on company and position, but as long as you stick to these guidelines, you’ll be one step closer to getting the gig.
From Laurie Richards, president of LR&A:
Candidates want to avoid self-serving answers such as “So I can pay my bills and support my family.” This suggests that you can be easily enticed by the highest bidder. That means the employer will have to invest time, money, and energy to get you trained only to lose you to the highest bidder. Then the employer will be back on the talent search to replace you.
Another answer to avoid is: “I’d do anything to work for COMPANY X.” This positions you as a person who lacks integrity, has low self-esteem and does not demand enough from others. If you’re willing to do anything, the employer is likely to offer you as little as possible, and that employer may be concerned that you will “do anything” to keep your job, too — cut corners, hide mistakes, even break the law.
Some think the “Everyone wants to work with COMPANY X” will cinch the job. This type of answer positions you as a commodity. You just became one of a million instead of one in a million.
And avoid the dreaded, “I’m just trying to get a job.” This suggests you’re simply putting in your time and punching a clock. You can be replaced by anyone with skills and motivation beyond a paycheck.
Instead, craft answers that represent talent, skills and/or motivation. Plan responses that highlight a benefit to the company and its customers as well.
“I love problem-solving, and [your customers] are constantly looking for new ways to solve their problems. I’d enjoy putting my skills to work knowing I’m helping [customers] [get more done/make more money/have better lives] by creating [company product/services]”
“[Product/Service] has always intrigued me. So working with [customers/team members] to find the next level of [product/service] would be a challenge I’d like to take on.”
“In my current position, [skill/talent/knowledge] is one of my greatest strengths. It sounds like I could really make a difference here for the [company/customers].”
“[Company] is positioned for [company mission], and that goal is something I want to be a part of so I can use my [knowledge/skills/talent] to be a part of the team to get there.”
Craft an answer that articulates an advantage for you, the company, and the customer.
From Matt Edstrom, the CMO of GoodLife Home Loans:
Tip #1: Make it personal
What about the company that you’re interviewing for resonates with you? Is important that you find somewhere to work where you can maintain your integrity? Or is it important for you to be employed with a company where there is room for growth?
It’s important for employers and interviewers to know that your values and the company’s value are synonymous. Find out what you have in common with the interviewers or the company and find out what about those commonalities is personal to you. This will guarantee that your answer is not only unique but also sincere.
Tip #2: Being good at something feels good
No one wants to do work that they don’t have the skill set for. It will be a constant struggle to succeed and your work will continually fall short. What can you bring to the table that will make you successful for the role you’re applying for? What about the job will you enjoy doing? What about the job do you think you will do well?
These will all be questions you can ask yourself to deliver the best answer on why you want to work where you’re interviewing. When taking this approach, make sure to focus on what you have to offer the company you’re interviewing for.
Tip #3: Do your research
The best way to answer this question regardless of the approach you take is to do your homework. Find out what the company is trying to accomplish, what you have to offer that the company needs, find what roadblocks the company may be facing.
This will demonstrate that you were proactive about being prepared for your interview but will also demonstrate your ability to think critically and resolve problems. Taking the approach of what the company needs and how you can offer a solution, will set you apart from all the other candidates.
Conclusion: How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
This is a quintessential interview question. It’s quite open-ended, so it’s your job to prepare without rambling on.
Remember to perform your research and custom-tailor your response to the company. Don’t forget to include company values and how you can fit within its culture.
Last, write down your responses and adjust them as necessary. Seek feedback, and try your best to drive home your vision.