“Why do you want to work here?”
Interviewers commonly ask this opinion question, so it’s likely to come up during your job search. It can be a bit intimidating if you haven’t done some research and planning beforehand.
No stress, this article will walk you through a step-by-step formula to tackle this question with confidence.
Variations of This Question
There are many different ways this topic might be broached in a job interview. A few of them include:
- Why us?
- Why this job?
- Why this company?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why did you apply to work here?
- Why are you interested in working here?
What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know
This question tells the interviewer what parts of the job appeal to you and how they tie into your values and career goals.
This is important to communicate because employers want satisfied and fulfilled employees, as those people are likely to care about the job, work harder, and stay on longer.
It also helps recruiters and hiring managers gauge whether you did any research on the company beforehand.
Preliminary research shows real interest. Employers want to see that you’re curious about your job and eager to pursue the opportunity.
How to Answer: “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
Rather than give you a list of arbitrary tips, I decided to break this section down into a step-by-step guide consisting of 3 parts.
1. Describe What You Like About the Company
Explain what qualities attract you to the company or the role.
This is important because if you feel good about where you work, you’re likely to take pride in your role and stay on as an employee.
Of course, you’ll need to look into the company beforehand.
While researching, make notes of anything that excites you or grabs your interest. It also helps to identify your core values, and how they overlap with the company’s values or mission.
Attractive job qualities might include:
- Having access to industry-leading technology
- Being able to progress quickly within the company
- Adhering to a mission that means a lot to you
- Having a variety of flexible work options
- Offering tuition reimbursement or other educational opportunities
- Selling a high-quality product
Here’s an example:
“In my research, I read about how you handle promotions from within and allow lower-level employees to apply for higher positions as they become available. The potential to move up to a supervisory position appeals to me and is what made me decide to apply.”
2. Talk About Why They’re Important to You
Next, explain why these qualities are meaningful to you.
This gives the employer some insight into your values and whether or not they’d be a good fit within the company.
Think about the company qualities that made you eager to apply, and talk about why these qualities appeal to you.
Discuss your own values or what you look forward to accomplishing on the job.
You might value these qualities because they:
- Get you excited about the industry
- Align with your ethical values
- Fit in with your desire to balance work and family
- Allow you to pursue higher education
- Provide the community with a much-needed product or service
Here’s an example:
“I know I’ll start in an entry-level position since I don’t have a degree, but loyalty is important to me so I’m excited about the opportunity to work my way up the company, however long it takes.”
3. Explain How They Tie Into Your Career Goals
Lastly, bring your answer full-circle by explaining how your career goals fit into the quality you’ve mentioned.
This is important because your confidence that the job will help you advance your goals will encourage you to work hard and succeed.
Think about where you expect to be professionally in the future, and relate that to the characteristics of the job and the company.
Perhaps these are relevant because you’re looking to:
- Become an expert in your field
- Reach a leadership position within the company
- Achieve a degree or certification
- Contribute to a movement or cause with your career
- Pursue a passion with your career
Stick to goals you can realize while at this particular company, otherwise, you may give the impression you consider the job a temporary thing.
Here’s an example:
“One of my career ambitions is to secure a managerial role within the company, so the ability to build my career without having to move to different organizations is beneficial to my goal.”
Putting It All Together (Example Answers)
The structure above should allow you to communicate an effective answer regardless of your reasons for applying. These sample answers demonstrate just how versatile this can be:
Example #1: The Company’s Mission
“I’m intrigued by the company’s mission to help members of the community make a difference. Your dedication to matching up individuals with volunteer opportunities helps people learn where their strengths can be used most effectively.
I’m excited about the opportunity to work with those who want to help as well as those who need help. Philanthropism and volunteering are important to me, and this position would give me the chance to combine my passion with my career.
Ultimately, my goal is to lead projects that make an impact on the community, and this role would allow me to grow into that type of responsibility.”
Example #2: A High-Quality Product or Service
“The digital platform your company provides is one of the best I’ve worked with. I enjoy using it so much, I jumped at the opportunity to apply with your company when I saw the job listing.
It’s important to me to fully support and appreciate the product I’m selling. With your technology, I’ve been able to succeed in sales at my current job. I would enjoy the chance to explain to clients how they, too, can succeed using this product.
One of my career goals is to sell a product I believe in for a company that can provide amazing service. I am dedicated to sales and customer service, and working here would make it a joy to promote the benefits of the product I’m selling.”
Example #3: The Opportunity to Learn New Skills
“Some of the best and brightest journalists work for this company, and I know it’s your commitment to top-notch reporting and accurate fact-checking that appeals to them. That is also what appeals to me.
With so many poor news sources out there, it’s important to me to work for a media company that cares about quality. I know my reporting and editing skills will be challenged in this role, and I am looking forward to improving my techniques.
In the future, I’d like to be seen as an expert journalist and trusted with the latest breaking stories. This position would allow me to learn from the most skilled players in the industry, increasing my consistency and credibility.”
How NOT to Answer
Last but certainly not least, take note of these mistakes and ensure you don’t fall victim to them in your interview.
Don’t Make the Job Look Like a Stopgap
Chances are good you won’t stay in this role forever, but that’s never a wise thing to say in an interview.
Employers don’t want to hear that you’re just biding your time until something better comes along. They’ll think you might “jump ship” quickly, wasting the time, energy, and money that goes into onboarding a new employee.
Instead, focus your answer on your future career goals to the extent they can be met with the current employer.
Don’t Say the Pay Is the Draw
While benefits and pay are likely part of what inspired you to apply for the position, you’ll want to omit this fact from your response.
Employers already know you need and want to be paid and to negotiate good benefits; that would apply to any job. The question is about why you want this job in particular.
Look past the salary and benefits, and come up with an answer that addresses the unique characteristics of this company or this role.
Don’t Sidestep the Question
If you aren’t prepared for this question, you might be tempted to say, “I don’t know,” or to give a generic answer — don’t do this.
Neglecting to answer the question tells them you didn’t do your homework, and that won’t mark you as a diligent candidate for the position.
Even if you didn’t look into the company, think of something interesting or unique about the position in particular, and talk about what that means to you and how it can help you professionally.
- Recognize the phrasing the interviewer may use
- Mention something about the company that appeals to you
- Explain why it’s meaningful
- Talk about how it will help you with your career goals
- Don’t make the job seem temporary
- Don’t focus on the pay
- Don’t avoid answering the question