Artwork by: Dariya Gonzo
Companies want to know you're interested in them, not just a paycheck. This article explains the best way to answer “Why do you want to work here?” when you're asked so you can get the job you want!
Your job search will likely involve applying to multiple companies. But, like dating, the trick is to make each company feel like they’re special. During an interview, you’re likely to be asked, “Why do you want to work here?” and it’s important to have an answer that provides a good reason why (and it shouldn’t be “because I like buying groceries”). Having a clear, concise, well-reasoned answer to the question will show the company that you’ve done your research and possess a clear understanding of who they are, what they do, and what values you relate to.
In this article, we’ll discuss the question:
Why interviewers ask “Why do you want to work here?”
How to prepare your answer
How not to answer the question
7 Example answers to help you in your interview (with explanations!)
Employers want to feel assured that the person they’re hiring is serious about the position and that they’re a good fit for the company’s values and culture. Employers also want to find candidates who are truly interested, and asking them, “Why do you want to work here?” is a great way to gauge their motivation.
It also determines if they’ve done their research and know what they’re potentially getting into. If a candidate gives an ambiguous, generic answer, the hiring manager will probably assume they’re looking for “any port in a storm” and take a pass. Just like people, companies are interested in applicants who are interested in them.
A good way to approach this question is to ask yourself, “Why am I a good fit for this position at XYZ Company?” This also switches the focus from what the company can do for you to what you can do for the company. As you research the company and the industry, note the challenges the company faces and how your skills and experience can benefit them. You can also weave in some of your past accomplishments and how they can be beneficial to a new employer.
Here’s what to keep in mind when preparing your answer:
Determine how you would excel in the position. Given your past experience and your current skill set, what value would you bring to the role?
Establish what excites you about the position. How do they line up with things you enjoy doing or how you’ve excelled in the past?
Articulate what interests you about the company. Research the company to determine how their products, services, or mission inspire or motivate you.
Be clear, concise, and specific. Interviewers have heard it all and will be able to tell if you're just ad-libbing.
Of course, you will tailor your response depending on the position you’re interviewing for as well as the company itself. But, before crafting a thoughtful response, keep in mind a few things that the hiring manager does not want to hear.
Here are three responses that will most likely take you out of the running:
Look, you know that salary and benefits are important, and so does your potential employer. But companies want to hire people who are actually interested in the work. They know you can go anywhere for a paycheck, so they want to know why this particular position speaks to you.
Nothing screams desperation more than someone obviously settling for any job offer that comes his or her way. It also suggests that you've been on the job hunt for a while (not that there's anything inherently wrong with that). However, companies loathe hiring someone who just needs a job and who will probably bail as soon as they find something better.
Answering this way is totally fine if you want to show your disinterest in a company. It also shows that you didn’t care enough to research what the job entails. While it’s true that most job hunters apply to multiple positions, keep that information to yourself. You want the company to feel chosen, not the result of a scattershot application process. Quite frankly, answering this way is most likely a quick route to the reject pile.
Doing your research on a company is critical because, per interview statistics, 47 percent of hiring managers say they wouldn’t hire an applicant who doesn’t know much about their company. Don’t skip this step!
When crafting your answer, tie your response to both your company research and knowledge of the position. This includes information you may have been given during the interview. Remember, the best answers focus on the company’s needs in relation to your skills and how you'd bring value to the position.
For the best answer to “Why do you want to work here?” the following are seven excellent examples worth considering:
I appreciate your company's commitment to community service as well the fact that you offer employees a chance to participate. I am excited about working in a dynamic, productive department like [department name], but also I'd love to work for a company that uses its vast resources to affect positive change in our society on a local level.
Answering this way demonstrates to the interviewer that you've taken the time to research the position and company and that your values align with theirs. It also shows that you're looking for a meaningful connection to the company's mission statement, not just a paycheck.
I'm already a faithful customer and have used [product name] ever since I can remember because I think it's the best in the marketplace. I really believe in its quality and have gifted it to my friends and family. I’m excited about the opportunity to work for a company that is committed to quality.
This shows the interviewer that you are familiar with their product line or services and you can articulate why you like it. A commitment to the product implies a commitment to the company and that you’re ready to be engaged with your work.
When I came across the job posting, I immediately knew I'd be a good fit because I have experience with data analysis and strong organizational skills. I also enjoy working as a team and had the opportunity to lead several projects in my previous position. But, when I read more about the company, I was really impressed with your commitment to employee training and development. I'm looking for a place where I can contribute as well as grow as an employee, so this seemed like a perfect fit.
It’s fine if you didn’t know all the ins and outs of the company when you first read the job posting. But, this answer shows that the opportunity was important enough for you to learn more. It also suggests to the interviewer that you would be a dedicated, resourceful employee.
Your company has received multiple awards for its work in the industry, and I find that inspiring. I’ve also read articles published by several people in upper management and I’d love the opportunity to learn from such accomplished thought leaders. I know I can make a meaningful contribution to this organization’s continued success.
Don’t worry—this isn’t kissing up. If you’re honestly impressed by what the company has done, it’s totally okay to let them know. It shows them that you value achievement, know what kind of organization you want to work for, and want to grow as an employee.
I've always enjoyed being someone who teaches others and shares knowledge. When I was in school, I tutored in the math department and volunteered with an elementary after-school program, so I was very excited about this position because it involves leading training seminars and giving team presentations.
This shows the interviewer that you understand the scope of the job, and that it involves things you enjoy and are good at. These are qualities of an engaged, motivated employee and green flags for any employer.
A person in my professional network works here at your company and has mentioned your commitment to maintaining a positive work environment. After reading some articles written by other employees on your company’s blog, I feel that you have a supportive, non-toxic environment where employees feel heard and valued. That’s important to me. And with my five years of experience as a [position], I think I’d fit in quite well. The job posting also mentioned that you’d like to hire someone who can move into the Sales Director position in the future, and this aligns with my career goals.
Again, this is a good way to show you’ve done your homework on the company. It also helps to have someone who works at the company who has provided positive information; they can act as an internal reference. Tying the information you have to your background and experience gives the interviewer an idea of your goals, expectations, and how you’d fit in with the team.
It's always been my dream to work at XYZ Publishing, which has an incredible roster of authors. I read the recent “About Us” article by the new president, and I really appreciated learning about both her commitment to promoting underrepresented voices in publishing, as well as creating novel new ways of bringing stories to audiences worldwide, if you’ll pardon the pun. For example, she wrote the company is working to create the most equitable and inclusive workplace possible, where all are valued and everyone feels empowered to be themselves and provide input in the company’s direction. I really admire this and would love to be a part of such a progressive organization. I believe that my background in writing and editing, along with experience in teaching DEI principles, would be an asset to the company and help it continue to move forward on this path.
Be clear about what you like about the organization, why it’s important to you, and how you can contribute to its success. Use specific examples, and tie your interests, skills, and experience back to the position and how you can help the company continue to succeed.
Looking to polish your interview skills? Career.io offers an Interview Prep tool, which will provide everything you need to ace your next interview, including mock interviews, live recordings, and insights.
Employers want to feel assured that the person they’re hiring is serious about the position and that they’re a good fit for the company’s values and culture.
A good way to approach this question when formulating your answer is to ask yourself, “Why am I a good fit for this position at XYZ Company?” This switches the focus from what the company can do for you to what you can do for the company.
Prepare your answers ahead of time. Interviewers have heard it all and will be able to tell if you’re just winging it.
Jennifer Inglis is a freelance writer and content creator with extensive professional expertise in advertising, media analysis, teaching, writing, and literature. Prior to working for Career.io, Jennifer was a public school teacher, teaching courses in college and career readiness, writing, and public speaking. Jennifer has a master’s degree in Teaching, and is the author of two published novels.