It’s part of almost every interview. And it’s often one of the first questions asked.
It sounds simple, but answering “why do you want to work here?” is an important job interview skill. Saying the wrong thing (even if it’s honest) can cost you the job.
But answering the question well makes a great impression. Since interviewers usually ask it early on, giving a smart answer sets a good tone for the rest of the interview.
Keep reading to learn the secret to answering “why do you want to work here?” the right way.
Sometimes you want a job just because you need one. Sometimes you’re hoping for better pay or a career boost.
The truth is, most job seekers apply to companies for practical reasons.
75% of people say that benefits are their most important consideration when applying for a job, followed by commute time at 59%. 23% would be more likely to join a company that provided access to an on-site fitness center.
But that kind of answer to “why do you want to work here?” gives the interviewer a bad impression.
Here are some things you should never say when asked this common interview question:
"I just need the money/I’ve heard you offer great benefits."
The recruiter or hiring manager already knows that you and all of the other candidates want to make money and receive benefits. They want to know what you can do for the company.
"I’m out of work and need a job."
When you answer the question, try to demonstrate a real interest in the job. Someone who will love the work is a better candidate than someone who doesn’t care about this particular position.
"This job will help me move on to a better job."
Employers understand that you probably won’t be with them forever. But they want to be more than your stepping stone to the career you really want. They want to know that you’re going to be happy in the position, not immediately searching for your next job.
Job seekers are often frustrated by this interview question. Does it even matter why you want the job?
It does to the hiring manager.
Their job is to find someone who’s a great fit for the open position. That means someone who:
In other words, while this question sounds like it’s about what you want, it’s actually about how you can benefit the employer.
To answer this question effectively, you’ll have to research what the company wants and figure out why you would be a good fit. Here’s how.
Proving that you’re a great match for the position has two parts:
Your answer should always be specific to the employer you’re interviewing with. If your response sounds too generic, the hiring manager will think you haven’t done your homework.
76% of employers say that not knowing about the company is the biggest mistake a candidate can make.
Luckily, this is an easily avoidable mistake.
The best way to get started learning about a company is to look at its website. Check the “About Us” page and look for a mission statement.
Make sure you know about the main products or services the company offers. You might also want to check the press release page if they have one to see any big news about the company.
Especially pay attention to anything about the company that excites you or appeals to your interests. You can use those ideas when you answer, “why do you want to work here?”
These days a business’s web presence goes beyond its website.
Check out any social media accounts you can find to learn what the company has been up to recently. The company's LinkedIn page usually has a short blurb about the company that can tell you something about its mission.
Social media also gives you hints about the voice and culture of your potential employer. Does it seem like a place that you would enjoy working? Think about why.
Do you still remember what the job ad said about this position?
If you’re a typical job seeker, you’ve sent off lots of applications, and you might not recall the specifics of each.
It’s time for some review.
Read the job description again to make sure you’re familiar with all the duties of the position.
Also pay attention to the skills or character traits the job posting asks for. Is the company looking for an experienced leader? Someone who provides friendly and courteous service?
Are you that kind of person?
Now you’re clear about what the company does and what the job requires.
The next step is to determine how your interests match the position.
There might be some obvious answers, like if you love nature and are applying to work in a national park. But your research can turn up other ideas. For example, when you read the company’s press releases, you might find that they make large donations to a cause that you support.
Make a list of ways that the job fits your core values, your interests, and your career goals. Think about things like:
You don’t have to talk about all of these things in your answer. Just come up with a few key things that excite and motivate you to want this job.
You shouldn’t memorize your exact answer to any interview question. It’s important to sound natural and relaxed, not like you’re reading from a script.
However, it’s not a bad idea to write out some bullet points you want to remember and practice talking about them. You can even ask a friend or family member to role-play the interviewer and ask you questions.
It might feel silly to do a fake interview, but it will make you more confident about your answers when you do the real thing.
I'm a people person, and I find it rewarding to provide guests with excellent service. Based on the reviews of your hotel, I can see that you're committed to putting customers first, just like I am.
As a friendly, outgoing person, with good interpersonal skills, I think I can contribute to your customer-centric mission.
I've been working in hotel guest services for two years, and I was excited to see that the experiences I've gained match up well with what you're looking for. I would be honored to work for an establishment like yours.
Why it’s great
The job seeker matches their personality, skills, and experience to the position. They also prove that they’re knowledgeable about the business, having read the reviews and learned about the company’s mission.
I’m just starting my career in IT, and one of my major goals is to support a company that’s doing interesting, innovative work.
I recently read an article in the New York Times about how your devices are changing the healthcare industry, and that makes me excited to be a part of your mission.
The training I recently completed prepared me for taking on an entry-level position like this, and I hope that I can grow my knowledge and my career at your company.
Why it’s great
It’s tough to answer questions like this when you don’t have a lot of experience, but this person did an excellent job.
They connected the duties of the job to their interests and demonstrated knowledge of the company. They also expressed an interest in staying at the company long-term while they grow their career.
I've used your software for years for my personal finances, and I've always been impressed with its quality, so when I saw that you were hiring an administrative assistant, I was excited for the opportunity to be a part of the team.
This role plays to my strengths as a highly organized, resourceful person who enjoys working at a fast pace. The administrative assistant job I've had for the last seven years is very rewarding, but it's at a smaller company, and I'm looking for more of a challenge.
Why it’s great
The interviewee demonstrates knowledge of the company and interest in its product. They outline their relevant administrative assistant experience. This is someone who has been actively seeking a role in a company like the interviewer’s.
“Why do you want to work here?” can be a frustrating question to answer if you’re not prepared, but it can also be a great opportunity to impress the hiring manager.
Let the interviewer know that you’re excited about the job by using specifics that you’ve learned in your research. A strong answer to this question establishes that you would be a motivated and engaged employee — and one worth hiring.
For more interview and job search tips, visit the Jobcase Getting Hired Resource Center.