On the surface this little question, ‘why do you want to work here?’ might seem like a throwaway question, something an interviewer asks to fill time or to hear lots of compliments about their business.
But this little question actually presents you the interviewee with a great opportunity to share your career goals, reiterate how well suited you are to the organisation or role and exemplify how neatly you’ll fit into the company culture.
The question ‘why do you want to work here?’ might show up in different disguises. Instead you might be asked ‘why do you want to work for us?’, ‘what is it that interests you about this company?’ or ‘why are you interested in this position?’ Whilst there are subtle differences between each question, each offers the opportunity to impress.
Why is the interviewer asking this question?
The whole point of an interview is for the interviewee and interviewer to get to know each other. This question is no different. When asking this question the interviewer is looking for you to provide examples of how you – your job history, skills and personality – align well with the company or role.
A perfect answer won’t talk about what the company can offer you, but about what you can offer the company.
In this question the interviewer wants to:
Understand what your career goals are and how well they fit into the role
Ensure you’re sincerely interested in the role
Find out how much research you have done on the company, role and industry
Get to grips with how well you fit into the company culture.
Preparation is key
In order to knock your interviewer’s socks off, it’s really important to prepare for this question in the same way as any other interview question. Think about the reasons why the interviewer is asking the question listed above and then look for information on the company and role that align with who you are as an employee.
In addition to a job advert or position description, there are other places you can go to find out information on the company and role you’re interviewing for. Top tips include:
Use the company website, especially the About Us, Media and Careers pages
Social media channels, especially LinkedIn
Google – look for stuff in the press
An inside contact. Do you know anyone who works for the company, either now or in the recent past?
Answers to avoid
Preparing thoroughly should help you avoid some common pitfalls.
1. Being too general or wishy washy.
“This is such a well-respected company and I think I’d fit right in.”
It’s a nice sentiment, but doesn’t tell the interviewer anything.
2. Being uninformed or boring.
“You seem to be doing interesting things and I’d like to be a part of that.”
Try to quantify what the interesting things are that draw you to the company, and don’t forgot to mention how you can contribute to future success.
3. Being too honest or making it too much about yourself.
“You guys are paying the best across the market.”
“I see this as a step to bigger and better things.”
This might be true, the interviewer wants to hear what you could offer them, as opposed to the other way around.
4. Being unenthusiastic.
“I saw that you were hiring and I thought I’d give it a go.”
Your future employer will want to hear how excited you are about this opportunity. An engaged employee is a productive employee.
Building the perfect answer
OK, so now you know why the interviewer is asking the question, the kind of things they are looking to understand about you, how to prepare and answers to avoid. Now it’s time to build your answer to the question 'why do you want to work here?'
Through your preparation you will come across genuine reasons why you’re interested in working for the company and in the role. These reasons might include (but are not limited to) the following:
Company general reputation including employer brand and EVP
Reputation of key leaders
Admiration of the products or services this company produces
Admiration of other company initiatives (community involvement, training programs, corporate social responsibility)
Company culture and values
Company growth and recent success
When putting your answer together, start at a high level about why the company is interesting to you. After this, get more specific about why you think the job is a good fit and how you can be successful in the role.
Try to talk about how you’re good at the work you do, and why you enjoy it. Can you use previous experience to bolster the company’s capability in a new area? Are you looking to repeat past successes?
Examples of good answers
“I have great respect for your company’s software products having used them in the past and would welcome the opportunity to work with them again. I have friends who have worked for you in the past and they have told me about your company’s respect for employees and how you create a great environment for rewarding innovation. I think my proactive style would fit in really well here — especially in this particular role.”
“I have worked in the naval engineering space for the last decade and have tracked your company’s progress during this time. The solutions you provide to industry are cutting edge and I feel my previous experience on XXX platform provides me with excellent experience to contribute whilst allowing me to develop my skills further. From your social media posts, I can see how important a collaborative team environment is to you which suits me perfectly; I love working closely within a team and thrive from interaction with others.”
So now you can see how, through research and careful planning, this little question offers so much opportunity to impress. For more advice on how to smash your next interview you can download our Interview Guide for free, or contact our team.