If you’ve been invited to an interview, you can expect to be asked some variation of the question, "Why do you want to work here?". People often dismiss this as a trick question, or assume that your interviewer is only looking to hear how great the company is. Yet it is arguably the most significant question an interviewer can ask you.
It is also extremely difficult to answer well. This article will outline exactly what your interviewer is looking for, typical mistakes candidates make, how to prepare your answer and similar versions of the question.
- What Is the Interviewer Really Asking?
- Five Typical Mistakes Candidates Make
- How to Prepare for the Question
- ‘Why Do You Want to Work Here?’ Template Answers
- Similar Questions: How They Are Different
- Final Thoughts
- Further Reading
What Is the Interviewer Really Asking?
When you are faced with the question ‘Why do you want to work here?’ you may feel overwhelmed. However, your interviewer isn't going to ask you to recite all of their industry awards from memory. Nor do they want you to feed them empty compliments.
The interview is about you. Your interviewer wants to know:
- Why you are perfect for the role.
- What motivated you to apply.
- How you will fit into the company’s culture.
- Whether you understand the company’s strategy and commercial goals.
- Whether you are likely to stay at the company for a long time.
You need to structure your answer in two parts:
- Why do you want this particular job?
- Why do you want to work at this particular company?
We will unpick these questions below.
Five Typical Mistakes Candidates Make
Before delving into how you answer the ‘Why do you want to work here?’ question, here is some advice on how not to approach it.
Most interviewers will not appreciate a humorous answer. It makes you appear insincere or suggests that you don’t know how to answer the question.
“I’m only here for the money.”
“You look like you could use my help.”
The interviewer doesn’t want to hear vague compliments about how their company “looks really cool”. Ambiguous answers will indicate that you haven’t done any research on the organisation or thought about why you want the job at all.
“I just think the work looks fun.”
3. Not Relating Your Answer to the Job or Company
It is surprisingly how often candidates to forget to mention the job they are applying for altogether.
“I liked your website.”
“You have bean-bag chairs in the break area, which is a nice touch.”
4. Being Too Honest
Even if you’re just here for the money, don’t confess this to your interviewer. Never lie, but keep your answer focused on the job role and why you would be a great addition to the company.
“I need to pay the rent somehow.”
“This isn’t my dream job, but it seems tolerable.”
5. Saying You Don’t Know
If you cannot come up with a single reason why the company should hire you, they probably won’t.
How to Prepare for the Question
Now you know how not to answer, it's time to prepare your best response to ‘Why do you want to work here?’. Here are some tips:
1. Think about why you want this job in particular. Research the role and figure out why it interests you.
For example, some of these may apply:
- The responsibilities of the role align with your personal interests. Ensure you can link what interests you about the job role to specific examples. For example, If you are applying for the role of Editorial Assistant at Love Knitting Magazine, you could mention that you are a prolific knitter and you edited a student magazine at university.
- Opportunities for progression. For example, internal qualifications, networking opportunities or management training schemes.
- You want to work in a professional, team-oriented environment which values collaboration and knowledge sharing.
- You love analytical and logical problem-solving.
2. Think about your career goals and how they align with the company’s.
A short-term career goal might be to gain more experience in customer service. Whereas a long-term goal might be to aspire to a management position. Make sure your career goal is relevant to the job role.
Here are some examples of how you can link your career goals with the company’s objectives:
- For the role of Product Designer – the company makes a product which has inspired you to enter the industry and your career goal is to design similar products.
- For the role of Healthcare Assistant – you are passionate about providing exceptional healthcare and you always aspire to improve your level of care. This is also a value prioritised by the company.
- For the role of Private Client Paralegal – you value developing close professional relationships with clients and your goal is to build a legal career in private client work.
3. Think about why you want to work at this company in particular.
Make sure you read the company’s website and any news articles you can find. A company’s blog can also be useful, since it will list important projects the company has worked on and focus on topics which are of value to the company.
Some other ideas to think about when undertaking your research are:
- Why you admire the company – Is it a front-runner in developing a ground-breaking software? Or is it one of the only companies in the country which specialises in aviation law? Make sure your reasons are specific to demonstrate you have done your research.
- Has the company undertaken any projects that particularly interest you, and why? – As well as the company’s blog, check whether they have listed any case studies on their website which provide more insight into the work they do.
- Can you identify the company’s short and long-term objectives? – A short-term objective might be to reward employees who volunteer for the company’s corporate social responsibility programme. A long-term objective might be a target for the number of annual employee hours dedicated to corporate social responsibility.
- What are the company’s values? – For example, a bank might foster a culture of sustainable lending. Or a healthcare organisation might promote their staff’s caring and attentive approach to their work.
‘Why Do You Want to Work Here?’ Template Answers
Use the below examples to help you pull together your own answer. Remember to structure your answer in two parts, and bear the above points in mind.
Example Answer One
“I applied for the position of E-commerce Marketing Assistant because I am looking to kick-start my career in digital marketing. As a graduate specialising in digital marketing, I have expertise in promoting online brand awareness.
"Whilst at university, I volunteered for a charity by promoting regular bake sales. I used social media to garner attention and boost sales. In fact, our Students’ Initiative raised the highest amount for the charity in four years. I want to work for [company] because I am interested in your product, a meal plan subscription service. As a keen foodie who is always too busy to cook, I have an in-depth understanding of your target audience.”
Why this answer is good:
- They linked their skills and interests to the job role.
- They understood the company’s product and explained why they want to work for this particular company.
- They backed up their answer with examples.
Example Answer Two
“Two years ago I spent six weeks volunteering with disabled children in Vietnam. This inspired me to train as a teacher because I firmly believe that education is a right every child deserves.
"I want to start my Post-Qualification Employment at this school because it has an excellent reputation for ensuring no child is left behind. You have an outstanding Special Educational Needs policy and the teachers here are passionate about encouraging every student to reach their individual potential. This is all reflected in your annual performance scores.”
Why this answer is good:
- They explained their reasons for wanting the position and backed this up with examples.
- They gave reasons for admiring the school and demonstrated they share the same values.
- They have done their research by mentioning specific policies.
Example Answer Three
“I am drawn to this position of Media Sales Assistant because I am interested in the marketing side of medicine. My degree is in medical biochemistry, so I am knowledgeable about the medical industry and the principles of ethics that are relevant to medical advertising.
"I want to work here because [company] has an impressive reputation for working with the major medical journals, and you offer an excellent opportunity to develop expertise within the medical advertising sector. I understand [company] is looking to grow its client base. I am a very sociable person so I would love communicating daily with clients and building new client relationships.”
Why this answer is good:
- They linked their skills to the job role.
- They outlined why they are interested in the position.
- They stated why they want to work for this company in particular.
Similar Questions: How They Are Different
There are many variations of the ‘Why do you want to work here?’ question that you may be asked at interview. Here are some examples of similar questions which ask the same thing:
- “Why do you want this job?”
- “What are you looking for in your next job?”
- “Why did you apply for this position?”
However, make sure you listen carefully to the question you are being asked; some will require a different answer than you first expect. Never repeat a pre-prepared response without listening carefully to the question. For example:
“What qualities can you bring to this role?”
This question differs because it focuses less on what you personally think about the role. Instead, talk about your specific achievements and how you can apply your skills to the job.
“As well as my ability to manage and administer pension claims, I have a unique background in data management and analysis. For example, in my previous role, I was part of a project recording and analysing the causes of delayed pension payments. This led to the implementation of improved payment administration policies. I will be looking for opportunities to use my skills within this role.”
This answer is good because the candidate has specified a unique skill which will set them apart from the other candidates and backed it up with an example.
“Why should we hire you?”
This question is used to single out the very best of the qualified candidates. We have a whole article about this one question.
The interviewer wants to know:
- Whether you will do the job better than everybody else.
- Whether you will fit into the company’s culture.
It differs from the ‘Why do you want to work here?’ question because it is less about your personal interest in the job and more about what you can do for the company.
Come up with at least three reasons you stand out from the crowd. For example:
- You have experience in this industry;
- Your past achievements demonstrate a proven track record;
- You have relevant awards;
- You have relevant qualifications or further education;
- Your soft skills (such as communication skills) are especially strong (and proven);
- You have specific technical skills (such as knowledge of certain programming languages).
“I have over 8 years experience working with clients to deliver successful projects. As part of this, I have developed great relationships with my clients and other team members. This contributes to my ability to manage teams and get results. Last year I lead a team that won an industry award for a national project.”
“How are you a good fit for this company?”
This question differs because it focuses on your understanding of the company’s culture and what skills you can contribute.
Ensure you research the company and its values. Think about how your own goals and values coincide. Then answer the question by:
- Describing your interpretation of the company’s culture.
- Explaining how you fit into that culture (including specific examples).
Here are some ideas to think about when interpreting the company’s culture:
- Does the company value collaboration?
- Does the company value internal progression?
- Are there any mentoring schemes?
- What is the company’s attitude to work/life balance?
“I love that [company] promotes supportive attitudes in its employees. At my current job, we also have a culture of support, especially when a tight deadline is coming up. For example, I recently worked two weeks’ overtime to help a colleague compile the civil disclosure for a massive fraud case. I love how stimulating and exciting that kind of work can be. Therefore, I think I will fit in well within your team where everyone comes together to work to similar tight deadlines.”
Preparing to answer interview questions can be daunting, but follow the advice in this article and you will arrive at your interview prepared to impress. Remember:
- Research the company and the position thoroughly.
- Structure your answer in two parts: first, outline why you want the job. Then outline why you want to work at the company.
- Be enthusiastic and back up all your reasons for wanting the job with specific examples.
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