Sometimes the most obvious interview questions are the toughest. You prep and prep for the job of your dreams and do all the right things—meticulously tailor your resume and cover letter, carefully follow the steps involved in the application process, wait patiently for a response and, if you’re lucky, get invited to an interview and come face-to-face with the hiring manager. At some point in the conversation, they ask “Why do you want to work here?” And… you freeze.
This can be the question that separates the serious contenders from the unprepared. It is often among the first to be asked during an interview, which means it may be your chance to make a great first impression. It’s what’s known as an “open-ended question,” which means that rather than seeking a single-word “yes or no” answer, the interviewer is looking for a more thoughtful, in-depth, and carefully considered response. So, step one: take this question seriously and prepare for it in advance of the interview. Use the following strategies to help you craft a response that will put you in good standing during your next job hunt.
Demonstrate your passion
The truth is, your answer to every question on an interview should demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm for the position and for the notion of joining the company and team; your answer to this question should be no different. Hiring personnel are looking for driven candidates who are excited to come on board to this job, not just any job. You’ll want to convey that you have the energy and motivation to potentially lead, innovate, and move the needle in a positive way. Is this you? If so, then make sure your answer details specifically why you want the exact job available.
Are you passionate about the company? Do your research and be prepared to explain why. Make sure your response demonstrates that you have an in-depth of knowledge of both the industry as a whole and the specific company you’re applying to. Although companies are aware that there will invariably be an onboarding and training period to get new hires up to speed and fully prepared to handle all of their new responsibilities, hiring personnel are much more apt to consider candidates who already bring in a wealth of experience and an understanding of how the business operates.
Explain why you’re a good fit
Your reasoning for why you want to work at a company should include why you’re a “good fit” for them. Hiring personnel these days are looking for candidates who aren’t just qualified and look good “on paper”—they want to hire folks who will fit in well with their existing teams and into their culture. When preparing for an interview, be sure to do your homework to get a good sense of a company’s culture (social media and corporate websites are excellent sources of information); then, when you’re on the interview, try your best to give the impression that you’ll blend in well.
Sell your skill set
It never hurts when answering a question to take the opportunity to demonstrate why the skills you bring to the table can translate to task effectiveness and potential success on the job; consider working into your response that your background and skills will make you great at the job (as long as you do it strategically and avoid sounding like a boasting broken record).
Come ready with examples of how you’ve excelled with those skills in past jobs. Love that you’ll be working with people? Tell a specific story about a time you shined with a customer and how happy it made you. Excited to crunch numbers all day? Talk about how your love for spreadsheets has made you a whiz your whole professional life.
Discuss how you can help fill their needs
Sure, there are lots of things you hope to get from a company if and when they hire you, but this shouldn’t be the focus of your messaging on an interview. Instead, the reverse should be your “main message”—how you can help address and fill the needs of the company that you want to hire you. Therefore, when answering this question, make sure your response includes why you’re in the perfect position to benefit them, not yourself. Ultimately, you want them to know that hiring you will be the best decision for their company. Your job is to convince them that hiring you will be the best decision they can make.