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Job Interview Question: Why Do You Want to Work Here?

WorkCoachCafe“Why do you want this job” is another version of this question.  When a recruiter or potential employer asks either of these questions, they want to know – are you really interested in this job, or was their job just another job posting you stumbled over on a job board?  You can prove you are different with 30 minutes of pre-interview preparation.

Demonstrate Your Interest in This Employer and This Job

These days, employers are buried under sloppy applications and poorly-written resumes from people who are applying as fast as they can for every job they can find, regardless of the content of the job or the reputation of the employer.  Those sloppy applicants are “a dime a dozen,” and employers do not want to hire them. 

Present yourself as a job seeker who knows the job and the employer, who has taken the time to research the employer and analyze the job.  That preparation will demonstrate your interest in the job.

Here are sample answers, based on research:

  • “I’ve been in this store [restaurant, or whatever is appropriate] many [several?] times, and I’ve always been impressed with it – the high quality products you offer, the great environment, and the excellent support your staff provides to customers.  This is a place where I know I could be happy working, and I know that I can make a contribution.”
  • “Based on my research, I know that [this employer] is a leader in the field of [whatever field they lead], and I want to work for an employer I can be proud of, one where I can learn and grow and stay with the head of the pack.”
  • “Based on my research, I know that [this employer] has an excellent reputation for the quality of [product or service name], and I want to be associated with such a high quality organization.”
  • “Based on my research, I am impressed with your company’s commitment to [quality, technology, customers, animals, whatever].  Working in such an organization is very important to me – I am more effective and enjoy my work much more.”
  • “Based on my research, I know that people who work here are the tops in their field – knowledgeable, committed, respected – and that’s an environment where I think I can grow and thrive and make a contribution.”
  • “Because we have always used your [product or service name] in our home, so I know it well, value it, and I want to be associated with the company that produces such an excellent [product or service name].”
  • “A former colleague of mine, [name the person – be sure you have their permission, first], has worked here for [the appropriate time period], and she says that it is an excellent place to work – great management, excellent co-workers, and working to [save lives, protect something, improve something, whatever is appropriate]. ”  — OR –
  • “Based on my research, I know that this is an excellent place to work – great management, working to [save lives, protect something, improve something, whatever is appropriate], and that is very important to me.  So, I know I could be very productive here for a long time. “

Don’t make any of those statements if they aren’t true!  Yes, you do want to say something “nice” about the employer and the job.  However, your goal here is not flattery.  Your goal is demonstrating that you have researched the employer and the opportunity.

How to Be Prepared to Answer This Interview Question

Do the analysis described below, and make notes about the things that stand out to you or resonate with you.  You can review the notes before the interview.  This looks like a lot of work, but it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes – a good investment of your time, even if this job doesn’t work out for you, because you will have learned more about this employer that you may be able to use in another interview with them (for a different job, perhaps) or with one of their competitors.

1.  Analyze the job description.

Presumably, during the application process, you at least became familiar with the job description – the duties and responsibilities as well as the employer’s requirements.  And, you can draw parallels between the job description and your experience and education.  So, list some of those parallels in your answer to this question.

 2.  Analyze the employer.

At a minimum, revisit the employer’s website to refresh your memory about what they do and to check out the latest news they have posted.  What stands out about them that is a big positive for you?  Continuing with the university example, perhaps they have an illustrious faculty member (or two) whom you admire, or have done some important research that is significant to you, or have some famous alumni you admire.  Worst case, maybe the football, basketball, hockey, etc. team is interesting to you because you like that sport.  Make notes of anything about the employer that is interesting or appealing to you.

Particularly if you know very little about the employer, you can also search through the appropriate online media for news about them – what they do, what they are best known for, who their competition is, and so on.  

  • For large businesses, FORTUNE, Business Week, and Hoovers.com are excellent sources.
  • For smaller employers, like restaurants and other local businesses, check Yelp.com to see what is being said about them.
  • For small to medium-sized businesses, check out the Inc. 5000 list to learn more about the employer.

As you research, add notes about what seems important about this employer, particularly if you can make a connection to one of your accomplishments or your experience.  Perhaps you worked for a competitor or perhaps you worked in an industry which is very similar.  If so, be sure to mention that as well as anything else positive (only!) that stands out to you.

Conclusion:

Current reality is that employers can be very choosy about who they hire, so they choose the people who show the interest and the ability to do good work.  Employers view a job seeker’s approach to landing a job as a demonstration of how the job seeker would perform as an employee.  

More About Answering Job Interview Questions

Knock Their Socks Off in a Job Interview

10 Steps to Successful Job Interviews

Job Interview Question: Why Should We Hire You

Why Job Interviews May NOT Turn into Job Offers

© Copyright, 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.

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About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .

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