All right, you’re well underway in your search for a new job, and you even have an interview (or a few) on your calendar. As you’re preparing for your interview, you think of one question you just know will come up: “Why do you want to work here?” Hopefully you’re interviewing with a company that has a mission you believe in, but if not, it’s wise to have a good answer for this question before you sit down with a hiring manager. So, what’s the best way to answer “Why do you want to work here?” Keep reading! I’ll share a few tips and scripts to set you up for success when it’s time for you to answer this common interview question.
Why Do Employers Ask “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
When you’re preparing for a job interview, no matter what the company does, you can expect a few of the same questions. Aside from the classic “Tell me about yourself?” question, another predictable question you’ll hear during an interview is, “Why are you interested in this position?” Employers ask this to find out how much you really know about the company and position and to see if you’d be a good, long-term fit—for the culture and for the position. They’re looking for the right fit just as much as you are, and they want to offer a job and invest in hiring someone who’s prepared and ready to take the reins. They’re also curious about how well you explain yourself and the connections you see between your top skills and passions and what the company needs from its team.
How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
This is one of the most popular interview questions, which is good news because you know it’s coming. You can research and prepare a great answer ahead of time—one that will set you apart from other job seekers and position you as an excellent candidate for the role.
So, when you’re planning how to answer “Why do you want to work here?” keep these points in mind:
1. Be specific about why you agree with the company’s mission.
It’s easy enough to explain why you’re looking for a new job, but if you can explain why you’re excited about the company’s mission, you have a better chance of standing out in the interview process. Research the company’s mission and vision statements on their website for more information.
2. Be honest about what you’re looking for in a job.
But not too honest. You don’t want to bash your old company and use this new opportunity as an escape hatch. Instead, explain how this new role could be a great fit for your long-term career goals. Keep it positive. Review the job description and see how your skills and goals match up with what they’re looking for.
3. Share who you know and why they recommended the company.
If you know someone who works at the company and they gave a rave review about the team (or simply referred you to the job), go ahead and mention them. It’s often who you know, not what you know, that gets you in the door. You can explain it like this: “I went to school with John So-and-So, and he said your technology team is using cutting-edge tools to create new systems. I like to learn and experiment with new technology in my work, so I think this company could be a great fit.”
4. Describe how your skills and experience match the open position.
Hiring managers will be impressed when you describe how your skills match the needs of the role. The best answer to “Why do you want to work here?” is always one that connects your special sauce to the job. After you review the job posting and company mission, make a list of your top skills and talents. (My Get Clear Career Assessment is perfect for this.)
5. Explain what you appreciate about the company culture.
Have you ever heard the phrase “You can teach skills but not heart”? It means you can learn the technical parts of a job, but your work ethic comes from within. So, if a job catches your eye but you’re not exactly qualified, you can explain how your work ethic or enthusiasm for the company culture will be a great fit for the team.
Example Answers for “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
When you find a company you’re interested in working for or a job that seems like a great fit for your skills and career goals, you’ll want to answer why you want to work there with confidence and reasons you can back up with experience.
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Here are some examples of answers to “Why do you want to work here?” that demonstrate why someone is interested in—and qualified for—the job.
Explain how you appreciate the new company’s values.
“I’m reentering the workforce, and it’s important that I join a company that values a balance of work and family. I have three kids, so the flexibility to leave work early for appointments or on time at the end of the day is a huge perk. I appreciate that your company keeps work at work.”
Share what excites you about (possibly) being hired at the company.
“I learned so much about marketing at my previous position—however, having so much variety made long-term progress difficult to measure. After trying lots of different marketing tasks, I’m looking to specialize in email marketing and see real results in one area. That’s why I’m excited about the email marketing position. It seems like your company values hiring people for positions they’re passionate about.”
Describe how your passions fit into the career you’d like to pursue.
“After 15 years in teaching, I decided to make a career change and be a nurse. I have a passion for people and caring for others. When my kids left for college, I got my nursing degree, and now I’m curious about joining your private practice. Even though I’m not a teacher anymore, I’d still like to work with children. That’s why this pediatric nurse role sounds like a good fit.”
How Not to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
Just because this is a common interview question doesn’t mean you should take it casually or wing it. Answering “Why are you interested in working for us?” is a chance to show a recruiter you’ve done your research about the company and you’re being intentional about your job search. Just like you wouldn’t want to work at just any company on a whim, hiring managers don’t want to hire just any applicant who applies for a job at their company.
Don’t admit your lack of effort to research the job and company’s values.
“I’m just trying to find a job, and I saw you guys were hiring, so I thought I’d apply and see what happened.”
This just isn’t a good look. The hiring manager will tell right away that you didn’t spend any time learning more about the company or their core values. That doesn’t speak to being intentional and doing your research—and it could reflect badly on your personal brand.
Don’t focus on the benefits. Focus on how you can make an impact.
“My current job doesn’t pay very well, and I’m tired of living paycheck to paycheck. I hear you offer some pretty good perks, which is why I applied. Unlimited PTO sounds awesome!”
It’s not exactly kosher to focus on the benefits and salary of a new job when you’re in an interview. Instead, you’ll want to focus on why you’re a great fit for the job and why the job’s a great fit for you. Money talks can come later.
Don’t complain about your current situation. Instead, focus on the positive.
“My boss and I really don’t get along. We butt heads all the time, and she hasn’t given me a promotion even though I work hard and show up on time every day. I want the recognition I deserve, so I’m looking for a new job where I’ll be appreciated.”
If you bad-mouth your old boss or coworkers, what’s stopping you from badmouthing your new boss or coworkers? It might be true that you didn’t get along with your old team, but this could raise questions for the hiring manager about your ability to be part of a team.
Ace Your Interview With My Free Interview Guide
When you’re thinking about how to answer “Why do you want to work here?” remember, it’s personal to you and the company where you’re interviewing. But if you’d like more tips on how to prepare for any interview and answer common interview questions with confidence, check out my free Interview Guide. You’ll learn how to create a strong first impression with the hiring manager and what questions you should ask them to learn more about the job. Download the guide for free today.