How to Answer "Why Do You Want to Work Here?" - With Sample Answers

How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?” – With Sample Answers

It’s one of the most commonly asked and oft-dreaded questions in a modern interview. It’s entirely open-ended, and between two similarly qualified candidates, it may make the difference between whether one or the other is called up for duty. Yet, it’s the one question cited by job seekers as the most difficult to answer.

For many candidates, the difficulty in answering this question may lie in the vagueness of this interrogative phrase. A multitude of candidates readily admits that they know their answer isn’t good enough. As a result, they scramble on the spot with a less than coherent response designed to impress.

There is quite literally not one right answer, yet there is a way to at least build a framework for how you can structure your answer. If you find yourself ready to reply using the following basic structures, rest assured you have more work to do.

  • You’re offering a generous salary
  • I need a job
  • It seems like a good place to work
  • I’ve heard you have great benefits
  • It will look excellent on my CV

Though some combination of the above answers may ring true in your ears, each example above puts the focus squarely on what the company can do for you. Furthermore, it says nothing about how you are going to help solve their problems. These answers don’t speak to “this job,” but any job and they could be precisely the reason you find yourself continually cut from the shortlist.

Of course, it’s not enough to merely flip the answer around and speak vaguely about helping them, like the samples below.

  • I know I can make a fabulous contribution to the team
  • You need someone qualified who can do this job, and I’m that person

The best way to answer this inevitable interview question is to leave it to the very end of your preparation. Then, come at it head-on having done all the necessary preparatory work required to ace the entire interview, not just this question. Let’s examine what work and framework are essential to get you to the right response.

Understand Who You Are

Consider what skills you have and what you can offer a prospective employer right now. Think about why you chose the path you’re on. Reflect on your career journey up to this point, and how that has driven you to be sitting in the interview chair you currently find yourself in. What makes you feel both nervous and excited right at this moment? Consider what sort of learning opportunities you’re interested in and where you see significant opportunities developing in your field that you potentially find either physically or intellectually challenging.

Consider the Company

Before you ever wind up walking through the prospective employer’s door, you need to make sure you’ve done your homework on the company. Use their website to get a sense of their corporate tone and try to understand why it is they’re passionate about their work. However, this is just the beginning. Look for any related media articles. Start with the ones they likely have linked on the website, but be sure to expand your search. Press pieces that are not on the company website can sometimes provide critical insights. Conduct a bit of research on the senior leadership team and know what drives them. If the CEO or other executives and leadership have written for publications, make it your business to read what they wrote.

Get Specific on the Interviewers

Usually, after a phone interview, you’ll be invited for an in-person conversation. Make an effort to find out the names and positions of the people you will be meeting with during the interview. Before turning up, you should know as much as possible about each of the personalities who will be sitting across from you. In today’s digital world, you can often get a sense of people from their social media profile. Using LinkedIn to view their employment history may reveal some remarkable similarities between you and the interviewer, which can help you in building rapport quickly. Any advanced knowledge is going to go a long way in helping you read the room. Taking this step should help you decode what they want to hear as an answer to the aforementioned question.

Understand the Position

After you’ve reflected on yourself, and learned about the company and its people, take a more in-depth look at the position. Consider how your qualifications and experience map onto each bullet of the job requirements. Think about how this position fits into the broader structure of the company as a whole. Once you’ve done this, look for similar positions at comparable companies and notice what things are unique to the company where you are interviewing.

Now that you understand each facet of the organization, you’re ready to pull it all together. Using the following outline, you can know for yourself why you want to work there. When the answer comes from a place of truth and meaning as a professional, you won’t be caught struggling to concoct something on the spot that may be perceived as contrived and inauthentic.

Step 1.
What fantastic quality do you possess as a professional that you are going to bring to this company? It could be something you’ve learned from a past job, your education, or innate ability that you possess.

Step 2.
What about this company inspires you to join it? Is it their ability to innovate? Their corporate culture? A visionary leadership team or CEO? Whatever aspect of the organization stands out to you is the right answer.

Step 3.
How will you fit with the team? When you researched the hiring team, did something specific stand out that will make you a good fit with this group? How will you both stand-out through the excellence of your ideas and work-effort and fit-in at the same time?

Step 4.
What specific points in the job description made you feel like this position is perfect for you? Do you have the exact education they requested? Does your technical know-how solve their pressing issues?

Here are sample responses for you to study. It’s ok if you play with the order of the steps if it makes the answer flow more naturally.

Sample Answer 1

My education as a SaaS Developer set me up to take on significant technical challenges. The drive towards innovation demonstrated by this organization and your reputation as a company that develops talent towards taking on ever more intractable problems is very encouraging. My proficiency in Java, PHP and C# make me more than confident I can help the team succeed, and our shared love of chess makes me think we’ll be great solving puzzles together.

Sample Answer 1

My education as a SaaS Developer set me up to take on significant technical challenges. The drive towards innovation demonstrated by this organization and your reputation as a company that develops talent towards taking on ever more intractable problems is very encouraging. My proficiency in Java, PHP and C# make me more than confident I can help the team succeed, and our shared love of chess makes me think we’ll be great solving puzzles together.

Sample Answer 2

I first came across this company several years ago, and I found the tone and style of your brand so inspiring, I knew I wanted to work here. Since then, I’ve taken post-graduate classes in Digital Marketing. However, as you market yourselves to a millennial audience, I feel my lived experience will also be quite beneficial. I’ve been following the CEO’s blog with interest and watching your job openings for several years while working my way up at a smaller marketing agency. I believe, after managing numerous modest campaigns from beginning to execution, I’m now ready to join your extraordinary team, to enhance and advance a brand that I already know and love.

Sample Answer 3

Before the recruiter contacted me about this opportunity, I must admit that I didn’t know much about your company. However, after doing some research, I’m impressed by your work and the company’s vision for the future. I’m genuinely interested in getting more involved in the logistics of specialized technology products, such as yours. And, I think my experience in general logistics, project management, and my desire to jump in and get my hands dirty makes me an ideal person to join this company. I know I can bring a lot of value to the team and help solve some of your current shipping challenges.

Remember that how you and your skills relate to a particular company will always be distinct, and the answer you give needs to reflect that. Also, recognize that the hiring manager is likely to hear several candidates answer this same question. If your answer radiates from a place of thoughtful consideration, it’s likely to stand out from those who respond more generically.