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How to Answer: Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Written By Rachelle Enns on August 11th, 2020
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Rachelle Enns
Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune 500 executives find success in their career.
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In this guide, MockQuestions teaches you how to answer, 'Why do you want to work here?' a notoriously challenging interview question. We break down the purpose of this question, we teach you how to prepare a compelling answer, and we outline the type of responses to avoid. Along with an answer example, we also provide an answer framework that you can replicate for future interviews.

THE PURPOSE BEHIND THE QUESTION

'Why do you want to work here?' is a question asked in nearly every structured job interview. The interviewer might also frame this question as:

  • Why do you want to join our team?

  • What interests you most about our company?

  • Why did you apply to this role?


When you craft your response, keep in mind that the interviewer wants to see evidence of a few factors:

  • You have enthusiasm and interest in the role and company

  • You believe in the company's mission and values

  • You are ready to make a specific contribution

  • You see a strong match between the job and your career goals


WHAT TO AVOID

‘Why do you want to work here?’ is a very challenging question to answer, mainly because it’s open-ended. It is difficult to know how to start and what kind of information to include.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when forming your response:

#1. MISUNDERSTANDING THE QUESTION.
'Why do you want to work here?' is a question often confused with, 'Why should we hire you?'

The difference between these two questions is very subtle; however, an answer to ‘Why should we hire you?’ tends to be more self-focused. A response to ‘Why do you want to work here?’ tends to be more company focused.

Be sure to carefully listen to the question and answer it directly and distinctly.

#2. AVOID GIVING A CLICHE RESPONSE.
Common interview questions often attract common interview answers. If you want to stand out from other job candidates, take the time to create unique responses that will capture your interviewer's attention.

One example of a cliche response is, 'I want to work here because this is my dream job.' The issue with a typical response like this is, although it’s enthusiastic, it is also very vague. The answer is all about the candidate and shows no real value to the company.

What is missing is the why behind the excitement and details surrounding how the candidate will contribute to the company.

#3. AVOID DISCUSSING YOUR CURRENT HARDSHIPS.
Many candidates will respond to ‘Why do you want to work here?’ by discussing what they don't like about their current job. Their answer turns into a negative response based on the factors they are trying to escape.

For instance, a candidate might say, 'I want to work here because my current job is a toxic environment, and I feel underappreciated.'

The fact is that your current company's issues are not the business or interest of any future employer. An answer with this tone creates a negative ripple effect. It's essential to stay focused on the positive factors that are pulling you to this new opportunity.

THE BEST ANSWER APPROACH

Recruiters and hiring managers often receive hundreds of applications per job. If you are lucky enough to land an interview, you must show significant effort and research the opportunity.

While your passion and excitement for the job are essential, it's always good to have some hard facts prepared as to why you want the opportunity.

Prepare for this question by:

  • Researching the company

  • Highlighting a unique talking point

  • Showing enthusiasm for the company's growth or recent efforts

  • Discussing the company's efforts and success, and how they tie into your career goals

  • Mentioning specific details of how you will contribute, once hired


Take some time to think about your work-related passions and desires. Consider the ways that this job aligns with your career goals.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How will I contribute to this company?

  • What results have I created in the past? Could I repeat them here?

  • How has my education prepared me to succeed here?

  • How do my professional values match those of this company?

  • How will my personality complement the company culture?


Once you think you have crafted the right response to ‘Why do you want to work here?’ take one last honest look. If you can apply your answer to any other company, it’s time to dig deeper and get more specific.

AN ANSWER TEMPLATE TO TRY

When you first learn to build a compelling response to 'Why do you want to work here?' it may be easier to follow a specific framework. Try to fill in the blanks with your own information:

"I want to work here for many reasons; however, the most personal and compelling are [give one or two reasons why this job is a stand-out opportunity].

I have spent a lot of time researching and getting to know your company and [discuss your findings with enthusiasm].

This partnership would be mutually beneficial in the sense that [discuss how the findings tie to your career goals].

Should you choose to hire me, I will contribute to [the original highlights you mentioned in the beginning] by [offer details on how you will contribute]."

Here is this framework in action:

"I want to work here for many reasons; however, the most personal and compelling are that your school district is top-rated in California when it comes to extracurricular opportunities for students.

I have spent a lot of time researching and getting to know your school and found that this school community focuses on immersing students in tech-based learning tools that help to engage students in the classroom.

This partnership would be mutually beneficial, as my teaching passions include learning through the joy of sport and teamwork. I advocate for child and youth health, and I also believe that tech-based learning is the cornerstone of modern education.

Should you choose to hire me, I plan to contribute to your athletics program by acting as a volunteer coach and being an active member of the school community. I will continue to build my knowledge of modern education and the tech-based learning tools that are so prominent in your school."

Feel free to run with this answer template, and make it your own!

IN CONCLUSION

Open-ended interview questions such as, 'Why do you want to work here?' are challenging to answer. They take work and time to perfect! The more you research the job, the better you understand your unique value proposition, leading to a great answer.

Try using the answer framework provided above, and trust that this question will become more comfortable as you continue to practice!

If you want more interview coaching, MockQuestions has a variety of available resources, including our set on the most common (and challenging!) interview questions.