By Mike Simpson
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There comes a time in every job seekers quest for the perfect position when they come across a question that just seems…stupid.
A question that, at first glance, seems almost insulting it’s so basic.
And yet, those questions are the ones that are meant to trip us up, a stumbling block placed directly in the path of an otherwise stellar interview.
And it’s tempting to come at that question, hot on the heels of a flawless interview (full of right answers and quick responses), and toss in a half-assed sarcastic response meant to make the interviewer laugh and see you as a down-to-earth, relatable, totally hireable person…
For many people that question is the almost inevitable “So, why do you want to work here?” (Can also often be rephrased as “Why do you want to work for us?”)
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Get our "Why Do You Want To Work Here Cheat Sheet" that gives you DO's & DON'TS and word-for-word sample answers that you can use in your next interview.
Shouldn’t it be obvious?!
I mean, come on, bottom line is you need a job…they have a job they need filled…it’s basic math, right?!
Actually, it’s not, and like any and all questions an interviewer is asking you, it’s not as simple as it might seem.
In fact, this question is far from simple and while it seems like they’re asking you for just one straightforward bit of information, they are actually asking you for two very complex answers…and therein that complexity lies the stumbling block.
Two questions?!? In one?! Are you serious!?!
Are you confused? Of course!
Who knew such a simple question could actually be something so layered? Well, don’t worry…unlike the average job seeker, you have us to help guide you and give you what you need to not only answer this question…or rather, both questions…and knock the interviewer’s socks off.
Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Why They Ask The Question “Why Do You Want To Work Here”
First off, let’s explore why this question is even asked.
As we stated above, this isn’t really just one single stupid question, but two much more complex and dynamic questions rolled into one:
1.Why do you want to work for this company?
2. Why do you want this job?
Now rather than deciphering the more complex layers, most job seekers will simply answer the question in a straight forward manner:
Because I need the work and you guys are offering a great rate of pay.
Okay, that’s honest…which might win you some points, but if you really want to impress your interviewer, you need to make sure that you’re not only answering it, but that you’re answering the layers…and tailoring your answer.
Remember all that research you did on the company before you even got to the interview stage?
Here is yet another opportunity for you to not only showcase what you know, but wrap it up with what you can provide skill wise.
Not only are you taking a mature approach to what could otherwise be seen as a dumb question, but you’re using it as an opportunity to springboard forward in the interview process by providing thoughtful, intelligent, tailored responses.
Again, your number one goal is to always be the perfect candidate and that includes making sure you align your skills and qualities with the values and needs of the company.
First off, let’s start out with what not to say to an interviewer who has just asked you this question.
Mistakes To Avoid
1. Being too honest:
“Uh, because I’m totally unemployed and sorta desperate at this moment which means my standards for what I’ll do for money are pretty low and flexible right now, including working for you.”
Again, bonus points for being honest…but although we always encourage you to tell the truth, there is a fine line between being upfront and being escorted out the door. Next.
2. Being too generic:
“Well, it seems like this is a super cool company to work for and it would be great to be able to get a job here.”
Aww, I bet you tell all the hiring managers that. Not only is it generic, but it doesn’t showcase any of the research that you’ve done on the company or the position. Next.
3. A boring apathetic answer:
“I dunno. I saw you were hiring. Guess you wouldn’t be advertising if you didn’t have a job opening and I could really use one…a job that is. So…we gonna do this or what?”
Wrong. Your job is to convince the hiring manager that you’re the perfect candidate…and this job seeker is definitely not the perfect candidate for anything…except maybe going back to bed and getting some sleep. Next!
4. Being wishy washy:
“Uh, I don’t know. I mean, I need a job and well, you guys have a super cool website and I really like your company logo colors so I guess…give me a chance?”
Oh man, I don’t know if I should give you a job or a sympathy hug. I think I’m gonna go with hug. Next.
5. Being inappropriately funny:
“Because you guys need me. I’m the best of the best and then there’s the rest.”
Shockingly, out of the five example bad answers, this one is actually closest to what you do want to say…just maybe not in quite such a cocky way. No, seriously, this is close. Keep reading to see what we mean!
But before you do you should download our free Why Do You Want to Work Here Cheat Sheet!
This handy (and FREE!!) pdf contains everything you need to answer this tricky question at a glance, including 5 sample answers you can use to base your answers on! Click Here To Get The Why Do You Want To Work Here Cheat Sheet!
How To Answer “Why Do You Want This Job?”
The first thing you need to do to prepare for this question is to ask it yourself. Just “Why do you want to work for this company?“
What do they offer that makes working there enticing? Is it just the paycheck?
If that’s all you can find, then maybe you should continue to look for another job. Yes, money is a great incentive…but it shouldn’t be your only incentive…especially as you continue to advance your career.
So why do I want to work here?
Remember, every job is a stepping stone to your next position and a job that offers you nothing more than money can be just as big a roadblock as no job.
Speaking of your next position, look at your career goals. How does this company and this job align with your future plans? Is this job a stepping stone or a holding cell? Does the position AND company align well with your personal brand?
(Personal Brand? What, you don’t have one yet? Head over to our article Personal Branding for Job Seekers 101 to learn how to build your brand now.)
If you get this job, is it one you really want? Is it a job you can see yourself doing with enthusiasm?
Is it a job that, when review time comes around, your supervisor can see that you are not only motivated, but a dedicated employee worthy of advancement and bonuses or are you like a prisoner…just marking time until you get out?
Can you honestly answer why do you want this job?
Once you answer those questions, ask yourself about the company overall.
As you’ve done your pre-interview research, have you come across aspects of the company values and goals that align with what you’re looking for? Can you work for them in good conscience?
Can you say that what they represent aligns with what you represent? Would you be proud putting that job on your resume or telling people you work for that corporation in casual conversation?
What is it about the company that attracts you? What aspects appeal to you?
Is it the job itself or is it something within the company? Is it their outreach? Their community service? Their role in the bigger global market picture?
Ask yourself, “Why do I want to work here?”
Once you start answering these questions, you can then in turn, refine them down into easy to remember answers that will not only impress your interviewer, but help answer an otherwise stupid question!
Now that we’ve answered those questions, take them and work them into your own answers for the hiring managers…and remember, tailor, tailor tailor!
When refining your answers in relation to the company, here a few key ideas to help spark your own answers:
Focus your answers to include specifics like the company’s overall core values and reputation. These can also include non-position related things like the company’s community involvement, outreach programs, marketing campaigns, training programs…anything that you find about the company that intrigues you and draws you in.
You can also reference incentive programs and employee awards and or management philosophies. The idea is you’re digging deeply enough that you’re not only aware of these things but that they resonate with you and make you want to be a part of the corporate structure.
Big insider secret: all hiring manager want to bring in people who actually want to work with them!
So, let’s practice a few!
“Why Would You Like To Work For Us?” Example Answers
So without further do, let’s have a look at a couple examples of how to answer this question. In this first example, we’ll answer the question “Why would you like to work for us?”.
1. “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.”
Uh, hello. Perfect answer! You’re not only aligning yourself with the company as far as philosophy goes, but you’re complimenting the outreach and promoting your skills at the same time. It’s a triple threat! Great job!
“Why Do You Want This Job?” Sample Answers
Now let’s move on to “Why do you want this job.”
1. “I really believe in the value of teamwork and so when I saw a position with your company to join your engineering department I had to make sure my application was put in. I believe strongly in working with other people towards a common goal and I know the skills I bring not only as an engineer, but as a team member will not only bring me work satisfaction, but will make me a valuable teammate as well.”
This answer is great because it not only highlights your skills as an engineer but also as an individual who works well with others.
Putting It All Together
As we’ve demonstrated above, although there are definitely wrong answers, there are no set right answers to the question “Why do you want to work for us?”
Each interview is going to require you to do your homework, your research and your tailoring…but once you do, and you really focus down your answers and target them to not only the position but the company overall, this one seemingly stupid question might just give you the opportunity to whip out your smartest answers yet!
Just remember to keep your answers short, sweet, honest (but not too honest!)…and above all…
FREE: "Why Do You Want To Work Here?" PDF CHEAT SHEET
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In it you'll get word-for-word sample answers that you can use in your next interview!
INCLUDES sample answers for: "why do you want this job?" as well as "Why do you want to work here?"