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“Why do you want to work here?” The recruiter asks, and it’s all you can do not to answer, “Well, I’ve always been very passionate about not starving to death!” Is that witty? Yes. Will it get you a job? Nope. More likely than not, it will get you shown the door pretty fast. Unless the job you’re applying for is stand-up comedian, you’d best shy away from being that much of a smart aleck.
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So, why DO you want to work at this company?
Or any company you apply at?
Sure, you need to pay your bills — all of us do.
But there must be a reason or reasons why you chose this company or industry and not the dozens if not hundreds of others in your area.
This question might be a little tricky. But answering it right is a good chance to make a great impression, and better yet, help you stand out from the group of people uncomfortably shifting in their seats trying to think of something that is not too hacky on the go.
As ever, it is much better to be prepared for this question than to mumble through some copy-paste answer about how great the company is. And prepare is what we’ve come here to do!
So if you find yourself feeling a little nervous about how to go about answering this make-or-break interview question, no worries! By the end of this guide you will know several good ways to handle this curveball — 5, to be exact. As promised! 😄
Just because it’s kind of fun to laugh at silly things people accidentally blurt out during interviews, let’s start with that 😄
I’ve been in this business for quite some time, and you’d never guess what answers people can give to basic, seemingly innocent questions that completely torpedo the entire interview.
They certainly could have used a guide like this one beforehand!
Especially the guy who told me he wanted to be able to keep an eye on his crush…or maybe not, maybe he was beyond hope. But you get the idea.
Ready? Let’s get started!
So without further ado, here is a list of things you should never, ever say when asked why you want to work for the company.
“Because it’s near my house/my kid’s preschool/etc.”
And this will help our company how exactly? Will you be more energetic and thus able to work better if your commute is shorter? Why exactly should we care how long your bus ride is?
They say honesty is the best policy, but there really are some things you should keep to yourself sometimes. Not to mention that if a shorter commute truly is the only reason you want to work there, maybe you need to take a long hard look at your priorities, where your career is going, and if this job is right for you at all.
“I’d like to earn more.”
Well wouldn’t we all! “I like money” is hardly a sentiment that would set you apart from the rest of humanity. Not to mention that, once again, this does not help the company in the slightest, and is thus a terribly unconvincing argument.
You like money, I like money, we all like money. What else you got?
“I heard you offer great benefits.”
Oh, come on! I mean, sure, having dental is great, but you being happy about getting it is not a reason for the company to hire you. You follow? I mean, sure, at first glance, this answer might seem like a compliment to the company — after all, aren’t you suggesting they take good care of their employees?
Unfortunately, what you are really saying is that you like to get free stuff. Wow, how very unusual.
Are you noticing a pattern?
A lot of the worst answers to this question are me-me-me answers.
I mean, realistically speaking, every recruiter knows convenience is a factor a lot of candidates take into consideration when choosing companies to apply at.
But just coming out and directly saying something like this demonstrates a terrible lack of self-awareness and a ridiculous amount of nerve.
Really? You expect us to hire you so your walk to work is shorter?
That’s cute. NEXT!
Other answers that are not nearly as bad as the ones listed above but will still leave the recruiter feeling underwhelmed are:
“I like your company.”
Umm, okay, that’s nice. Why, though? If you are going to go with something like this, you’d better have something to back it up. Not to mention that “like” is pretty much the blandest word there is.
And, once again, this answer is kind of about you at the end of the day.
There is a way to make this answer work, though, and we will get to it later on. 😄
Okay, so we’ve gotten the answers that leave recruiters tearing their hair out over all the time they’ve wasted out of the way.
Now let’s get to what you actually should be doing to prepare for this question.
Take a good look at the job offer itself.
What does it say the company is looking for? Remember, this isn’t a friend you’d knocking back a few beers with, this is a recruiter, and a recruiter’s job is to find the RIGHT candidate.
Show them you’re the candidate they’ve been looking for and you’ll make both of your days. And who knows, maybe you will go out for a beer someday in the future.
So, back to reading through that job offer. Read it carefully, a few times if you have to, to figure out who it is the company is looking for, and then think about how your skills and experience align with it.
Take a look at the company’s website.
Read the “About Us” section. Figure out what their values and goals are and then, once again, figure out where who you are as a person fits in with that.
If the company is, say, very active in the local community through charity and various outreach programs, and you have volunteered at various organizations, maybe talk about how happy you would be to be part of a company that represents such values, and how much you would like to take part in the events they organize.
Bringing up something the company takes special pride in has an added bonus as well: it shows you did your research, that you care. That you didn’t just stumble out of bed and into the office of any company that would have you.
Find a way to show how you can add value to the company.
The recruiter wants to know what you can do for the company, so tell them about that. The time for discussing your requirements will come. For now, it’s about meeting theirs.
So bring up your expertise or special skills and show how they make you the perfect fit for the job — at the end of the day, you being the right person in the right place at the right time will make everyone happy, you included.
Now that’s we’ve got that covered, let’s move onto some specifics!
So let’s take all that theory and turn it into practice, shall we?
Here are 5 great answers to the “Why do you want to work here?” question I hope will inspire you to craft your own. 😄
“This company has a wonderful reputation as a great place to work. You place high value on your employees and encourage them to learn, grow, and innovate inside the company. This means that employees happily work here for many years, far beyond the average length with one employer. And, according to your customers, the high quality of your products and services reflect your high employee satisfaction, which is not surprising. This feels like a win-win-win for stockholders, employees, and customers, and I would be very happy to join this organization.”
Why it’s good: This is the improved version of the bland, “I like your company” answer from earlier. Sure, it mentions that the company is a great place to work, but it doesn’t stop there.
This answer shows you’ve done research on the company, its competitors, and the industry as a whole.
It says you would genuinely take pride in working there. That’s totally different than just saying, “I heard you guys pay well so, yeah”.
“I saw a story a few months ago on the news about the outreach your company does with the community. Giving back is a big part of my personal philosophy and I was excited to see that there was a company that felt the same way. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out there was a job opening in my skill set here. I would really hope to be able to come to work every day to a place where I knew not only are my technical skills valuable, but my personal philosophies are as well.”
Why it’s good: This answer is good for 2 reasons — like the one above, it shows that you have done your research, so good on you for that.
It also shows that who you are as a person is a great fit for the company’s values.
As an added bonus, it paints you as a caring, giving person. Who could hate that?
“Not only are you a leader in the industry, with strong financials and a great business model, but I've also seen on your Facebook page and Twitter account that users of your product are hugely enthusiastic. In fact, I'm a product user myself and am eager to be a part of the product's development and distribution.”
Why it’s good: This answer shows you genuinely like the product — after all, you are a user yourself, you’re not just praising it to score brownie points.
It also shows that you’ve gone beyond the basic, check-out-the-company-website research and done a deep-dive into the company’s social media to find out what the word on the street is about their product and business. Nice!
“When I heard about XYZs new mobile app, I had to try it out for myself. I was immediately impressed with the intuitive UI design and seamless navigation, and I connected with the company vision: to build a password manager that helps people keep their information safe.
As a Director of Product, I can make this app even more effective by improving the functionality between devices. With a better syncing process and data field recognition, XYZ can enhance the user experience and increase the number of downloads. I developed similar features for ABC, which led to a 28% boost in user engagement. I love this product, and I’m looking forward to working together to make it even better.”
Why it’s good: This answer is somewhat longer than the others, and while it’s not a good idea to drone on for 5 minutes, this answer covers a lot of important ground.
A recruiter who gets this kind of answer in response to their “Why do you want to work here?” question doesn’t just find out why YOU want to work there, but why THEY should want you to work there.
Demonstrating how much you would bring to the company is always a winning strategy!
“I’ve got a proven track record and have experience in working with the latest innovative software related to the industry. I have experience in dealing with difficult working conditions and hence, can begin producing results within the 1st month of recruitment. For more information, you can inquire about my feedback from my past co-workers and senior managers on the quality of my work. The reason I want to join your company is to keep up-to-date with trends and become even more of an expert on the industry.”
Why it’s good: Once again, here we have an answer that shows why you would be the right fit for this job. And not only do you have what it takes, you are also openly inviting the recruiter to confirm this with numerous people you’ve worked with. Bold!
If you decide you’d like to say something like this during your interview, you should be 100 — no, 1000 — percent sure that your colleagues will speak well of you. Otherwise this whole strategy will be akin to stepping on a rake.
We’re almost done!
Before you go, take one last look at this short list of do’s and don’t to make sure you have all the most important points checked off.
And that’s it!
That’s all there is to killing it when you inevitably get asked this question. When you’re done, time to send a thank you email and wait for that call!
If you need help preparing for other questions, check out my guide on typical job interview questions here. More nervous about being the one to ask the recruiter a question? Find out how to do that eloquently and effectively by checking out my guide here.