In order for us to learn the best way to answer the tricky question ‘Why do you want to work here?’ we need to know why it is being asked in the first place.
For a moment, put yourself in the position of the employer and imagine: You have a bright young spark sitting opposite you; well-turned out, speaking confidently, fidgeting at a minimum.
Seems honest. But the last 30 people you saw were the same.
What’s more, all of them had passed each question you threw at them with flying colours…
…On the other hand, Why do you want to work here? gave mixed results.
What answer would you want to hear if you were about to offer someone a job, pay them a cut of your profits and make the effort to train them?
- I would want them to already know something about my company (and I’d really like them to know about those awards we won last year).
- I would like them to tell me why they like my business.
- I would want them to tell me what aspects of the job they’re applying for they find appealing, interesting and challenging.
- I would like them to tell me how motivated they can be when they’re doing the job; in other words how hard they can work for my business.
Those wants are obvious of the owner of a business. And now you know what they are looking for, you can mould your interview exactly to these criteria.
Why is the question asked?
You already know partly why. It’s one of the best ways an employer can get to know your work ethic.
Your answers give a business the chance to:
- Understand your goals, professionally speaking, both long- and short-term.
- Confirm that you will be into this work 100%; that it isn’t a stop-gap and that it presents for you some genuinely career-driven opportunities.
- Find out exactly what you know about the company.
- Find out what about the work makes you tick and what isn’t so appealing. And why.
As in most walks of life, being able to answer questions well (and without too much erring) is down to how well you prepare. And in this case, preparation is about knowledge…
And knowledge is power
If you want to work for this company: Why? If you want this job so badly: Why?
The draw for you wanting to work for a specific company should not be due to its having a great canteen or epic social life. The draw needs to be based on Cold Hard Facts.
1. Why this company?
Admittedly, we may not know much about the business we’ve written to. Sometimes, especially on job sites, there is only scant information about it.
However, that is no excuse not to try to find out as much as possible.
Imagine how silly you would feel if you went into a coffee shop and you asked the barista at the counter for a king-sized duvet!
Whether you are 100% behind this interview or not, it is only right that you should research, research, research the company you’re applying to work with.
That’s just common sense.
- Check the company’s website: you can even check out press releases that may be linked to through their blog.
- Check LinkedIn: companies often have a comprehensive account of themselves on there.
- Check Facebook, Twitter and any other online sources: there are often mentions about awards or successes, company ethics and links to blogs.
And so endeth the first lesson. But before you read on, ask yourself in truth: why this company? What is turning your head? If you can’t think of why, are you really pursuing the right choice?
2. Why do you want this job?
The second lesson is researching the job itself. Go back to your job site and have a look at the job description.
Is there anything that stands out as particularly interesting to you?
What excites you about it? Is there anything there that you don’t understand?
Of course there is a good way to appear interested in both your company and the job, and that is to ask questions.
However, be careful:
- Don’t ask silly things for the sake of asking
- Steer your questions to be relevant
- Don’t ask something you could have read about in the job description
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3. What’s the true answer running through your mind?
Just as with any other question asked, this one does not require you to be 100% gut-wrenchingly virtuous.
Don’t lie (of course!), be candid but try to steer your answers around the bundles of other non-useful thoughts in your head.
For many of us, the job and the business are going to be just that: a job and a business.
And what we really want to say is something like:
- This is just a job
- I suppose this company is like any other
- I don’t have any questions
- I’m just here for the money!
4. So…why do you want to work here?
In terms of answering the question, let’s break down the CORRECT answers, looking at them from the viewpoints of “Company” and the “Job”.
Here’s what could be said in response to the question in terms of the Company:
- Talk about company awards and success
- Talk about the reputation of the company
- Talk about its services and products, the pluses (not minuses) of one or two
- Talk about its marketing campaigns
And in terms of the Job, why not:
- Talk about what excites you about the work
- Talk about how this work relates to previous work
- Talk about success you have had in a similar line of work
- Talk about why you applied for the job
Interviews are not normal discussions. They are not heart-to-hearts nor are they a place to talk about the weather (unless you are applying to the Met Office!)
So, use the odd situation to your advantage.
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5. What does the interviewer not want to hear?
As well as the points listed in part 4, a recruiter is not going to want to hear waffle.
Most recruiters are not stupid; they know when they are being waffled to.
All that is going to do is confirm to them that you know nothing about the company or the job.
Some tell-tale signs for a recruiter that the candidate is not right for the role are:
- Being too general and using business-speak to try to convince the interviewer that you know what you’re talking about.
- Being too general also highlights to the interviewer that you have not read or perhaps don’t understand the job description.
- Being under-enthusiastic. If you seem lack-lustre and have let slip that you would rather stand under a beehive than work here, you are on a losing streak.
- Being overly interested in the benefits and perks of working for the company. Someone who asks about pay and has focussed in on that gives the impression of being motivated by nothing more than their monthly pay cheque.
A final word…
As we said at the very beginning, you need to come at the question Why do you want to work here? from the point of view of the employer.
Prepare well; do some homework, research what you need to know so that you don’t go in to an already stressful situation feeling as though you are sinking.
Lastly, don’t be too general.
Your specific answers will show an employer you know what you are talking about and that you have taken the time and effort to look into things.
With that kind of dedication and sticking power, you’re bound to be shortlisted.