“Why do you want to work here?” is an interview question that seems easy to answer, but trips up applicants all the time.
And we can guarantee that you’ll have to answer it at some point in your job search.
This guide covers why interviewers ask this question, and teaches you how to answer it effectively.
Table of contents
Why Interviewers Ask This Question
“Why do you want to work here?” is a question that’s almost guaranteed to come up during a job interview. Whether you’re meeting with a hiring manager about an entry-level job or a C-suite executive position, they want an answer to this question.
“Why do you want to work here?” seems incredibly simple at face value, but it unveils more crucial information about you than you might realize. It’s a quintessential question that highlights your inherent motivations.
Everyone wants a well-paying job that offers security and plenty of perks. But that doesn’t mean that people are genuinely dedicated to the job. Some are there to work for the weekend, doing the bare minimum to get by.
Those aren’t the type of employees that companies want to hire. The best candidates are those who show genuine interest in the role, a natural motivation to support the company’s bottom line, and a desire to perform their very best.
Asking this question is a creative way to pull that information out of you. It lifts the veil, uncovers your motivations for applying, and helps the hiring manager choose the best candidate possible.
That’s a lot of weight for one question. And while it seems straightforward, your answer can make or break your chances of making it to the next step in the interview process and thus getting a job offer.
How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here”
Despite how it may seem, there is a right and wrong way to answer this question. The goal is to leave a lasting impact while letting interviewers know you are committed to doing a fantastic job if given the opportunity.
Here are some tips to show you how to answer “Why do you want to work here?” in a way that hits all the marks and leaves a great impression.
1. Learn About the Company Before the Interview
It’s always wise to conduct research on companies before you head in for an interview. There are a few reasons for that.
First, it equips you with the knowledge you need to decide if this job truly is for you. Jobs can look excellent from the single perspective of a job listing. But when you start looking deeper, you may realize something about the position you’re not that excited about.
It’s also the time for you to identify any qualifications you are missing so you can come up with a way to address why you could still be a strong candidate without it.
Secondly, researching empowers you with the knowledge to develop a meaningful answer to the inevitable “Why do you want to work here?” interview question. It would help if you learned everything about the job, the company, its culture, and more. The more you know, the better equipped you are to create an answer that leaves a lasting impression.
Reread the job position and take a closer look at the corporate website. You can even look at the social media profiles of people who already work there to gain more insight into what it’s like being an employee of the company.
Focus on the company’s mission and the qualifications the hiring manager is looking for from a new hire. Get a good taste of the kinds of people working at this organization and understand how the position serves the bottom line.
2. Show That You Believe in the Company’s Mission
One great way to form a memorable answer is to connect your passions and values with the company’s mission.
You can find information about the organization’s core mission on its corporate website. Usually discussed on the “about us” page (or something similar), the mission drives the company’s daily operations. It’s the purpose of the organization’s existence and plays a vital role in critical decision-making.
Some companies might be non-profit and run entirely to serve a specific cause. Others may prioritize offering a particular service or type of product to consumers. You may even see companies that want to push technology or business into the future.
Whatever the case, learn about it!
Understand why the company exists and what it’s trying to achieve. With that information, you can consider your own career goals, values, and aspirations. Connect the dots, and you have a relatively straightforward answer to “Why do you want to work here?”
You can draw from your past, talk about things you do in your off hours, and find that common thread to cement your commitment to this job opportunity.
3. Make it Clear You’ll Fit with the Company Culture
Another way to stand out when answering this question is to talk about the culture. Every company has a unique culture that significantly impacts its daily operations. Some organizations even define themselves by their work environment.
If you don’t fit, it’s going to be tough to convince them that you’re the right candidate for the job.
During your research, you should take time to learn a bit about the company culture. Looking at social media profiles and seeing what current employees post can give you great insight.
Once you learn more about the work environment and how the company operates, you can lean into those details to explain why you want to work there. For example, some companies rely heavily on teamwork. Others might encourage creativity and give every employee a voice to generate ideas.
There are also plenty of organizations that give you a chance to work alone and solve complex problems. Whatever the case, knowing those details can make all the difference.
Try talking about how you thrive in that particular work environment and feel that you’d be a good fit for the current culture. You can even discuss how the culture is noticeably different from the one at your last job (without badmouthing it), giving you a fresh start to reach your full potential.
4. Explain Why the Position Appeals to You
When talking about why you want to work at the company you’re interviewing for, discuss what appeals to you most about the position. What was it on the job listing that stood out? What did you learn during your research? What piqued your interest?
There’s always a reason why job postings stick out from a sea of others. Perhaps it was the opportunity to expand your career horizons or utilize your skills to the best of your ability. Think about what lured you in and go into detail about it during your answer.
Don’t be vague. Generic responses usually reflect poorly on you rather than work in your favor. Be specific and go into great detail to show that you’re passionate about the opportunity.
You can also reflect on your personal ambitions and connect the dots to illustrate why this role stood out most. Maybe it perfectly matches your skill set or has requirements that fit your experience to a tee. Or maybe it’s the high-profile clients the company works with.
Those little details pack a big punch and can remove any shadow of a doubt that this job is one that you’ll take seriously.
5. Demonstrate That You Have What it Takes to Succeed in the Role
Here’s where you can do a little bragging. Knowing how to sell yourself while being humble is an important skill in job interviews. That still applies here, but you can use this opportunity to showcase your abilities and experiences.
Ultimately, the hiring manager’s biggest goal is to bring someone in who will help the company’s bottom line. Your success in this position is also success for the organization. If you can show why and how you’ll boost the bottom line and help the company achieve its goals, you’re set!
Explain your qualifications and talk about what you’ll bring to the table when answering this question. Don’t just rehash your resume. Go into detail and tell a story about how you achieved similar success at your past company.
The hiring manager already has your resume and likely has a good idea of the baseline skills you’ll bring to the table. But every person’s capabilities are different. “Why do you want to work here?” is a chance to set yourself apart from other candidates and discuss why you’re the one who deserves the offer.
Go beyond your hard skills. Bring up soft skills and examples of winning moments from previous jobs, and lay it all on the line. Tell the hiring manager what you’ll do differently, how you’ll succeed, and how you’ll contribute to the organization’s objectives.
6. Practice Your Answer
Our final tip is an easy one:
Many job-seekers make the mistake of thinking they can just “wing it.” That might work when you’re getting your first retail job as a teenager. But once you enter a more competitive professional field, preparation matters.
Failing to develop your answers before you head into your interview could leave you scrambling. You might stumble on your words, take too long to create a suitable response, or have disorganized thoughts. Even worse, you’ll come off as ill-prepared.
“Why do you want to work for us?” is complex enough without the added stress of having to come up with an answer on the spot. Do yourself a favor and think about this question long before the interview. Then, practice saying your response naturally.
You don’t have to recite a written script verbatim. Instead, know what points you want to hit. Practice saying them in a variety of ways and get comfortable saying them out loud. The goal is to sound confident, and the only way to do that is with plenty of practice!
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Answering
Now that you understand the “do’s” of this question let’s talk about the common faux pas. “Why do you want to work here?” is an interview question that can bait you into making silly mistakes if you’re not prepared, hurting your chances of getting the job.
Focusing on Money and Compensation
Realistically, money is a big motivator for people. If a job offers an excellent salary and impressive benefits, that could be what piqued your interest.
However, that shouldn’t be your focus when answering “Why do you want to work here?” Hiring managers typically aren’t interested in hiring individuals who seem to clearly only care about the paycheck. Remember: They want new hires who are passionate, naturally motivated, and aligned with the company’s values.
Wishy-washy answers are not the way to go. An example of this could be, “I don’t know, it looked interesting.”
An answer like that doesn’t show the hiring manager that you’re committed. Plus, it shows that you haven’t really thought about why you want to work for their company.
Overly Generic Answers
A generic answer would be something along the lines of:
“This company seems exciting, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
That response says nothing about who you are, what you’ll bring to the company, or why you really want to work there. It’s a generic answer that has no substance. Personalizing your response is the best approach.
Answers That Indicate the Job is a Stepping Stone
Another thing to avoid is any answer that remotely sounds like you’re only using the job as a stepping stone. For example, mentioning that you’re applying because you want to get your foot in the door for a better job with the company later. That shows that you’re only temporary, which is something hiring managers want to avoid.
Badmouthing and Inappropriate Statements
Finally, avoid badmouthing previous employees, colleagues, or anyone else you previously worked with. Don’t burn bridges. Even if you have a reason to be upset with your old company, keep it professional and avoid saying anything negative.
There are many ways to answer “Why do you want to work here?” While your response will differ based on your experiences and goals, these examples can serve as inspiration when developing yours.
In our first example, the company’s mission is why the candidate wants to work there. It’s something they’re passionate about, and they saw the job listing as the perfect opportunity to work with a company with values that align with their own.
“Several months ago, I saw a news piece about the outreach program at [COMPANY]. Serving my community has always been a passion. I give back as much as possible and enjoy volunteering whenever possible.
When I saw that article, I knew that this organization was one I wanted to work for at some point. I was thrilled to see this job posting. It’s in my field and gives me a chance to use my skill set at an organization with similar values to mine.
I’m excited at the opportunity to work for a company that values my technical skills and my philosophies of volunteering and community outreach.”
The second example is about technical skills and qualifications. The job-seeker knows that their skill set is valuable. Because of this, they detail how they can use those skills to boost the bottom line and help the company succeed.
“I want to work here because it sounds like the perfect opportunity to use my skills to the best of my ability. I’ve spent several years doing this type of work, and I know what it takes to engage clients and keep them happy. With [COMPANY], I’d have a larger prospect pool to work with, and I’m confident I can reach my full potential in the organization.
I look forward to helping this company gain more clients, boost revenue, and experience tremendous sales figures. These are all things I did in my last role, and know I would be able to do here too.”
Our last example uses the company culture as the main reason for why they want to work there. They provide examples of previous jobs and highlight how this opportunity is different.
“The biggest reason I want to work for [COMPANY] is to be a part of the collaborative work environment. My previous job involved more individualized work. While I used that opportunity to enhance my skills and learn how to work independently, I’m excited to be a part of a team.
I believe that I can use my skills to contribute or even lead teams to success. I’m ready to take on larger projects and collaborate with others to achieve company goals.”
As you can see, there are a number of reasons why interviewers find this question so valuable. Despite its perceived simplicity, your answer can tell them a lot.
Fortunately, you can drastically improve your chances of getting hired by preparing and delivering an impressive answer. And by following the advice in this guide you’ll be well on your way!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.