By Emilie-Noelle Provost
Why do you want to work here? is one of the most common interview questions employers ask—and it’s one of the easiest to get wrong.
There are a few ways interview candidates typically address why they want to work at that company. They might list every transition in their career that has led them to that point, or they talk only about their future goals and how a particular job will put them one step closer to attaining them, or they deliver a series of generic compliments that aren't especially unique.
While it’s always good to demonstrate your enthusiasm, employers ask why you want to work at their company for a specific reason. They want to find out how your skills and experience can help them meet their business objectives, whether you’re a good fit for the company’s culture, and how your career goals align with what they’re looking to accomplish.
Employers ask why you want to work at their company to find out how your skills and experience can help them meet their business objectives.
To help you ace your next job interview, here are two ways you can answer the "why do you want to work here?" question and let your prospective employer know why you really want the job—while helping you stand out among your fellow candidates.
Read more: How to Answer: What Makes You Unique?
Why do you want to work here? Help the company reach its goals
First, you should know how the job you’re interviewing for will benefit the company. That way, you can align that with your skills and past success to show them how what you've got is what they need.
Example: You're interviewing for a sales position responsible for generating a portion of a company’s revenue. The interviewer asks why you want to work in a sales role at that company.
What not to say: I’d love to have this job because I’d be able to make more money in commission.
Instead, say something more specific that would give your interviewer important information about how your goals can help the company.
What to say: In my current position, I helped increase my company’s annual revenue by $2 million, but I feel that I’ve reached the limit of my growth potential. I’d love to work here because my experience and contacts would allow me to achieve a much higher sales goal.
Why do you want to work here? Your core values are a fit
Having an understanding of a company’s culture and how it fits with your beliefs and professional goals can be helpful in landing you the job at a company whose values match your own. Answering this question in terms of shared values is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you're a good culture fit.
Example: One of your goals is to work at a woman-focused company, and that's exactly where you're interviewing.
What not to say: I'm tired of being overlooked for promotions.
Even if it's true, focus on what the company does or has done.
What to say: I read an article that talked about how 50 percent of the people who were promoted to management positions here last year were women, and I was really impressed with that. Working for a company that supports women in their careers is important to me.
Also what not to say: I’m looking to work for a company that lets me take time off whenever I want.
You want the focus to be on the company and what you find attractive about its culture, rather than putting the focus on you.
What to say: I appreciate the way your company supports employees with families by offering flexible work hours.
Why do you want to work here? What not to do
Here are a few more answers to avoid when tackling the "why do you want to work here" question:
- Don't talk about another role or position at the company other than what you're interviewing for. You don't want to broadcast that you want to move on quickly.
- Don't just focus on how the position will benefit you; think about telling them how the company will benefit from hiring you.
- Don't talk about any conflicting or uncertain feelings you have about your career. If you see the job as "good for now," keep that to yourself.