Sometimes the most difficult interview questions to answer are the simplest.
“Why do you want to work here?” can easily throw you off during an interview because it’s so direct.
Fortunately, with some preparation, this interview question is a good opportunity to highlight your enthusiasm for the job and show the interviewer why you’re an ideal candidate.
Here’s how to properly answer “why do you want to work here?” in four different ways. Ideally, you should touch on 2-3 of these points in your response:
1. Express passion for the company’s mission
The reason interviewers ask “Why do you want to work for us?” is primarily to gauge your enthusiasm for the position. So it’s important you give them what they’re looking for from the start of your answer.
An effective way to make sure you leave a strong impression on employers during your interview is to demonstrate passion for the organization and its mission. Doing this shows that you want to work at that specific company.
Here’s one example of how to show alignment with the company’s mission and values:
As part of my undergraduate studies, I completed an internship at a nursing home in my town. During this time, I got to see first hand how the compassionate care the staff provided made a huge difference in the lives of the residents.
Your mission statement, to provide loving, personalized care that enables people to live fulfilling lives, really resonates with me and I’m excited about the opportunity of contributing to this goal.
Alternatively, if you’re applying for work at the Apple store, whose mission statement is “Bringing the best user experience to its customers through innovative hardware, software and services.” you can explain how you’re interested in contributing to this goal.
Even better, give examples of how you’ve helped improve user experience in previous positions.
You can find a company’s mission statement on its website, usually under an “About us” tab.
Mentioning the company’s mission statement and how it aligns with your own personal mission statement indicates that you’ve done your research, proving that you’ve put thought and effort into preparing for the interview.
2. Mention why you’d be a good cultural fit
Possessing the skills and experience required for a role isn’t guaranteed to land you the job. Interviewers also want to know that you’ll be a good match for the company culture.
Employees who are a good cultural fit are more likely to work well within existing teams, contribute to a positive work environment, and thrive in the role.
To determine if a company is a good fit for you, take the following steps:
- Request an informational interview with someone at the company
- Check out the company’s social media
- Read employee reviews online
- Visit the company’s website
- Look up LinkedIn profiles of current employees
Then, use that information when you prepare your answer to “Why do you want to work here?”
For example, if you notice that the company lists corporate social responsibility initiatives on its website, mention that you have a few ideas for how the company can give back to the community.
Here’s a good sample response that mentions how the candidate would be a culture fit:
From what I’ve heard from an acquaintance who works in the customer service department, everyone seems like they genuinely enjoy working together. As soon as I learned that you get together for monthly board game tournaments, I knew I had found the right company for me.
I find a little friendly competition to be motivating, both in and outside of the office. I look forward to hopefully being able to challenge my future colleagues in Cluedo and Monopoly soon.
3. Show how your career goals and the company’s goals align
This part of your answer should showcase how the position you’re interviewing for fits into your personal career goals.
Explain how your goals align with those of the company to convince interviewers that you won’t turn in your resignation letter as soon as a new opportunity presents itself.
If you find out through your research on the organization that they’re planning on expanding into a new region, for example, tell the interviewer about how you’re looking for a new challenge. Then, explain why your skill set and work experience make you well-suited to take on a leadership role in the upcoming expansion efforts.
By showing how your career goals align with those of the company, you also demonstrate an understanding of the employer’s vision and what it will take to achieve it.
Here’s a good example showing how to address your career goals in your answer:
As someone at the beginning of my career, I’m looking for a position where I can gain valuable experience and grow with the company. I recently read an article about your ambitious plans for expanding your IT department and thought that a company like yours would be an ideal place for me to hone my skills as a software developer. When I found out you were hiring entry-level candidates, I applied immediately.
4. Discuss the company’s position in the industry
Another great way to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role is to mention what distinguishes this company from its competitors and why that makes you want to work for them.
For example, maybe the industry is experiencing changes due to technological advancements. You can say you admire the company’s ability to adapt and stay competitive, then express how you would contribute to the company’s continued innovation.
Take a look at how this candidate demonstrates that they’re prepared to contribute to the company’s continued innovation:
I think your company is doing some groundbreaking work in the e-commerce industry and I would love to be a part of it. The company is still young and I see a lot of opportunity for growth, especially in terms of how you can grow your client base by better catering to your younger audience.
At my previous job, I helped establish a new social media team which contributed to a 34% increase in national brand awareness. I believe this experience makes me well-suited to help you take full advantage of this potential.
How not to answer “Why do you want to work here?”
To avoid leaving a negative impression on employers, do not do any of the following when asked “Why do you want to work here?”:
- Focus only on your own interests, not the interests of the employer
- Say that you only applied to the job for the money
- Reply that you don’t know
- Give a generic answer that could apply to any company
Answers like the ones above send the message that you’re not sincerely interested in the position and will hurt your chances of getting through to the next round of interviews.
Additional interview resources
Looking for advice on how to answer other common job interview questions? Here’s a list of additional resources to take a look at: