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Why do you want to work here? Here’s how to answer (or not)

September 22, 2022 - 13 min read

job-interview

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A closer look at a common interview question

Be careful, here's what not to say

How to answer 'Why do you want to work here?'

3 sample answers to get inspired

Let’s say you have a job interview at a company you've admired for some time. You've tried to prepare for this interview by mapping out your route to their office and washing your most professional pair of pants.

But the hiring manager freezes you with their first question. They ask, "Why are you interested in this position?" That question never crossed your mind, but it will impact the rest of your interview.

It sounds simple, but it’s tricky to answer. That's what we're going to help with today. We'll explain how to answer 'Why do you want to work here?' in a professional way that also stays true to yourself. We'll outline how to use this question to make a positive impact during your interview, what to avoid saying, and give you some example answers for inspiration.

 

A closer look at a common interview question

Out of all the other possible interview questions, you might be asked, 'Why do you want to work here?' is certainly one of the most common. A hiring manager may ask it at the beginning of the interview, but don't be surprised if they slide it in at the end. 

First impressions matter — especially in a job interview. Studies have found that people judge potential employees within the first 20 seconds of the interview. This greatly impacts how your interview proceeds. And because the hiring process costs companies time and money, they want to have a connection with each job candidate.

A good answer to this question will set the tone for your interview and how the recruiter remembers you. 

This question invites you to show the hiring manager's genuine interest in the position. They want to know if you're passionate about the work or if you're just in need of a job. Your answer is also an opportunity to share your skillsets and show off your research on the company and role. 

The depth that you provide is telling, too. The hiring manager won’t get to know you if it's too generic and short. It shares more about you if it’s specific with details and personal connections.

But watch out: this question might be phrased in an alternative way. Here's a list of ways your potential employer may ask this question:

  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why are you interested in this job?

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Be careful, here's what not to say

You want to know what to say when asked 'Why do you want the job?' but you should also learn what not to say. In a nerve-wracking situation, you might fumble with your words and fail to give a compelling answer. Understanding what to avoid will help you think clearly while answering the hiring manager.

Avoid topics that draw away from your interest in the job. Of course, you need to talk about your skills, but you can't make it all about yourself. Make an effort to be your authentic self, but remember that you're in a professional setting and should act appropriately. The hiring manager doesn't want your answers to be ego-driven, so take the time to be sincere and humble. 

You'll also want to drive home your passion for the job rather than suggesting it's just a stepping stone for your other career goals and aspirations. It's OK if the job you're interviewing for won't be your forever job, but don't give the hiring manager the impression that you're job hopping.

businesswoman-shaking-hands-how-to-answer-why-do-you-want-to-work-here

Here are a few examples of quick responses that you shouldn't use while answering this question:

  • "I've been told you offer great employee benefits and salaries."
  • "I don't know what to do with my life, but this job seems fun."
  • "A friend of mine worked here and said it's relaxed."
  • "I went to school for this and meet all the requirements in the job description."
  • "It'll lookgood on my portfolio."

We all make mistakes, but what matters is our resiliency and ability to grow, and that's what BetterUp is all about. Developing a growth mindset allows us to look at our mistakes as learning opportunities for the future.

How to answer 'Why do you want to work here?'

It doesn't matter what job you're applying for because this question could pop up anywhere. Your answers will look different depending on the job and company, but there's one thing you can always do to help yourself: prepare.

Be prepared

The hiring process starts well before your first interview. You need to dedicate time to developing a strategy to make a great first impression. It's easy to spot someone who isn't prepared and thinks they can wing it. But winging it isn't how you'll answer questions well.

To help you have the best answer to "Why do you want to work here?" you first need to do as much research as possible. Find out how the company is organized, its company culture, and even information on who's going to interview you. Knowledge of the company will help you speak with confidence

smiling-confident-business-leader-how-to-answer-why-do-you-want-to-work-here

Try looking for the company's mission statement, and think about how you relate. Even take a look at their social media accounts. Their social media presence might tell you what sort of brand and voice they have. 

Another thing to research is the possible challenges you might encounter in the job. Recruiters like to ask questions to evaluate your problem-solving skills, so knowing what challenges you’ll encounter will help.

What are your responsibilities? If it’s a writing position, how will you deal with writer’s block? If you’ll be managing a team, what would you do about interpersonal conflicts between team members? 

Recommendations to help you give a great answer

This question is the chance to mention your diverse skillset or demonstrate how you handle high-pressure situations. Plus, if all goes well, you'll have a follow-up interview and move to the next stage of the hiring process.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while giving your answer:

  • Don't be stingy with the details: Your prior research will help here. When giving your answer, think of any proof or explanations you can provide. Details might be things like a specific business strategy or the company's mission that you admire. It'll make you sound more sure of yourself and not like you're caught off guard. 
  • Find a personal connection: While this is a professional job interview, connecting back to things you enjoy outside work helps. Be careful that your answer doesn't seem too generic, but share something personal to give the hiring manager an idea of who you are. Think of something you relate to within the company and why you applied for the job in the first place. 

two-female-friends-talking-at-coffee-shop-how-to-answer-why-do-you-want-to-work-here

  • Think about your impact: Will you complement their company culture well or contribute new creative ideas? If you noticed a challenge or an issue the company faces, you might be able to mention how you'll help solve that. Or, if the company has a solid brand niche, explain how you fit into that. Recruiters look for people who will positively impact the company and help them grow.
  • Don't forget your values: Sometimes job seekers forget who they are when applying for new jobs and try to fit in with whatever company will interview them. You should bring your work values everywhere you go. Explain their characteristics and how you'd embody them in your new job. You can use it to explain that you have similar core values and missions as the company.

3 sample answers to get inspired

You might still become a bit overwhelmed even if it's a common interview question. That's OK because we have a few examples of 'Why do you want to work here' answers. 

Review these sample answers, and think about how you could use them in any of your interviews:

  1. "You've always upheld your mission statement about helping children in the community. Last year you helped provide school supplies to over 15,000 kids. Your impact on the local community is astounding, and my planning and communication skills would contribute well to that. I value dedicating my career to helping children, and [company's name] is a great place to do that."
  2. "I've been a customer of [company's name] for years now because of its superb customer service, product quality, and innovative designs. As a designer, I admire each product's attention to detail, and I would love to contribute my skill set toward creating new products that continue to touch people and increase brand awareness."
  3. "I see this job as a way to contribute to a fast-paced publication that strives to give everyone a voice. My previous work with other news outlets has taught me how to be resilient, communicate effectively, and never leave a stone unturned. The fact that [company's name] has exponentially boosted their readership with their social media presence within the past year shows me that this is where I'd love to grow even more."

two-men-shaking-hands-how-to-answer-why-do-you-want-to-work-here

Learning how to answer 'Why do you want to work here?' will give you a better chance of standing out during your interview and landing the job. Hiring managers might interview 100 people for the job, but not all of them will know how to answer this question.

You will. You'll know how to make a strong first impression and what not to include as you detail what about this particular job make you want to work there.

This skill will take you far in your professional career, and you'll thank yourself for learning it now. Knowing how to articulate your thoughts is crucial during job interviews. BetterUp can help you develop your communication skills to answer any interview question with articulateness and confidence.

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Published September 22, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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