Companies ask a lot of questions during interviews for an open position. And they have to.
They need to make sure that you are the right person for the role, and that your skills and experience match up to your enthusiasm and willingness to perform well.
But of all the questions they tend to ask, there’s one that many of us find difficult to answer.
“Why do you want to work here?”
This is the kind of ambiguous question that most interviewees would rather avoid. Internally, you might be thinking, “Because I’m broke and unemployed!” or “there was nothing else available”. But if you dig a little deeper, you might even be surprised by what comes out.
With a bit of direction, context, and guidance, you can answer this question like a seasoned professional and land the jobs you apply for with flying colors.
In this post, we’ll look at why so many companies ask this question as well as provide a comprehensive guide for answering it.
Why Do Companies Ask This Question?
It is pretty reasonable for companies to ask interviewees why they’re applying for a certain role. They’re trying to get to know you better and understand more about your personal motivations, values, ideas, and expectations for the job. They’re trying to figure out:
- Your existing knowledge of their company
- Whether you are interested in this particular role or just any job you find
- If your career goals align with the company mission
The company you’re applying to naturally wants to ensure that they hire the best possible person for the job. After all, it’s their business that’s on the line.
Interviewers have to take into account your perspective on the application and use it as an opportunity to uncover any potential red flags. Essentially, they want to know that you’re a sane, cooperative, and talented professional with enough skills and experience to meet their needs.
Playing The Perfect Interviewee: Best Practices
If you haven’t been to a job interview in a while or are simply trying to brush up on your skills, you may be seeking some best practices to help guide you on your way.
The following tips will help you respond to your interviewer’s questions with every bit of poise and professionalism that they expect.
Perform research on the company you’re applying to
Before you arrive at the interview (or start it online), it is absolutely crucial that you do deep research on both the company and the role you are applying for. Find out what they are looking for and why. Doing so will help you to angle your answers in a way that is as favorable as possible.
It also prevents you from looking uninformed when they undoubtedly ask you other questions relating to their brand, history, or job descriptions.
Highlight your (applicable) skills and experiences
Your skills and experiences are two of the most important things for the interviewer to consider. Thus, you should mention them with exactitude and pride. When they ask why you want to work there, provide examples about how your professional experiences make you a prime choice.
Talk about how much you’d enjoy the position
An excited, passionate employee is very attractive to hiring companies. The more naturally motivated you are to take the job, the more likely you are to perform well. Assuming you are genuinely excited for the role, make sure to highlight that in your answers.
Elaborate on your passion for the company
If the role itself doesn’t spark too much excitement, perhaps the company does. Focus on the projects and purposes that this company takes on, and elaborate on why they excite you.
For instance, if you are applying to work at a sustainable fashion brand, talk about how you’ve loved thrifting clothes from a young age and have always been impressed by their approach to waste management and creative drive. Find common ground to relate to.
When describing your strengths and skills, give specific metrics. This helps you appear more knowledgeable and self-aware, while simultaneously getting to the point and demonstrating good communication skills.
If you’re not sure exactly what to say about yourself, there’s no shame in having a little practice in the mirror. The more prepared you are, the better!
Be honest and true to yourself
All of the above tips are helpful. But if they aren’t true, you aren’t doing anyone any favors, especially not yourself. Remember to stay honest and authentic about the things you say.
If you pretend to have the skills or passion required for a certain role, you could not only disappoint future employers, but you could also wind up with a job that you don’t actually like.
“Why Do You Want To Work Here?” Example Answers
There are lots of ways to answer this infamous question, and yours should be unique to you. But nonetheless, it can still be helpful to look at sample answers in order to get a better idea of how to structure and formulate your own.
The following example answers are entirely hypothetical. However, you can use them as inspiration to repeat them in your own words and in your own context.
Answer 1 – “I’ve seen your company’s ad campaigns in X magazine, and was really inspired by the level of precision and creativity I saw. As someone who has studied the art of creative advertising and followed its trends for X years, I can’t think of a better environment for applying my skills and learning new ideas.”
Why is this a good answer? This answer shows that you have knowledge about their company, keep up with current industry trends, and have a passion for contributing to the team.
Answer 2 – “I recently saw a post online which talked about the work your company does within the community. Volunteering is something that is very important to me, so working for something that makes an impact would mean the world.”
Why is this a good answer? This answer focuses on the fact that you share the same core values and ambitions as the company does. This is especially powerful when applying to NGO or community-based job roles.
Answer 3 – “I’ve used this company’s products for years, and have always been impressed by the quality and innovation applied to its design. I would love to be a part of the team that produces such groundbreaking work.”
Why is this a good answer? This answer directly references the company’s quality and reputation. It’s a very flattering answer that also shows you have first-hand knowledge and experience with the company’s work.
Answer 4 – “Working at this company has been a dream of mine since I interned here in [year]. It was such a stimulating and inspiring environment that I went back to grad school and received training to come back as a full-time employee.”
Why is this a good answer? By stating that you’ve already interned at the company, you let the interviewer know that you already know what this job entails. Having gone back to school in order to return as an even more skilled force makes you a very strong candidate.
Answer 5 – “I have a friend that works in HR who has raved about the company culture and work ethos here. As someone who loves teamwork and collaboration, this sounds like the perfect environment to unleash my full potential.”
Why is this a good answer? Firstly, knowing someone inside the business already is a huge advantage. But this answer is also good because it highlights your strengths and outlines how well they would fit into the existing culture of the business.
Answer 6 – “This company has been consistently listed as one of the best places to work in X magazine. I have read employee testimonials that indicate its high engagement rate and opportunities for collaboration that I would love to be a part of.”
Why is this a good answer? Hiring managers love to hear that their current employees are happy in their roles. But this answer also shows that you have done your research as a candidate and that your skills/personality will naturally complement the environment.
What Not To Say
In addition to gaining some insight into the right things to say during an interview, it is equally important to learn what things to avoid. Here are some examples of what not to say:
1. “This was the only available job opening I could find”
This kind of phrasing tells your interviewer that you’re not interested in their company, and they can’t really expect much from you in terms of drive, passion, or enthusiasm. It tells them that you see this job as a last resort—and no one wants to be a last resort.
2. “I’m hoping it’s a step onto bigger things”
While it’s okay to reflect on your career trajectory, your interviewer probably won’t appreciate the fact that you see their company as a stepping stone rather than a destination.
Companies want employees that are ready and willing to be there 100%, and hopefully stick around for the foreseeable future. A lot of companies are trying to get their retention rates up, so job candidates that are already thinking about moving onto other things are not very attractive.
3. “I’ve heard the salary and benefits are good”
If the company you’re applying to really does have good rates and benefits – that’s great. But focusing on them too much can make you sound superficial and distracted. Rather, put your focus on the job role itself and what you feel you can bring to the table.
Businesses go through a lot of effort to find new employees that fit in with their culture and can fill a role successfully. They don’t ask this common question for nothing, and it’s probably one that you’ll have to answer at some stage of your career.
Ultimately, being prepared and having a successful interview is about showcasing your best talents and communicating why you’d be the perfect person for the role.
It’s important to demonstrate both hard and soft skills, such as active listening and collaboration, as well as the practical skills and experience necessary for the job. If you take anything away from this article before heading out to your next interview, focus on these:
- Express personal passion for the brand’s purpose/mission
- Elaborate on why your skills and experiences align with the role
- Describe how much you would enjoy the role
At the end of the day, you’ve also got to trust yourself. You know who you are and what you offer. So, be professional, look sharp, and put your best foot forward.