Some interview questions are easier to answer than others. It’s simple enough to describe yourself in three words, talk about your past work experience, or explain if you know specific Excel shortcuts. The question, “Why do you want to work here?” seems like it would be one of those easy questions. However, it’s deceptively simple. It’s a broad, open-ended question that will give an interviewer insight into your motivations, goals, and what you might bring to the table as an employee. And often, it’s not a question that job seekers consider on a detailed level, so you might struggle to formulate an answer on the spot.
As you’re approaching the interview, think about all the reasons you applied to a specific job posting. Realistically, you might have been enticed by the pay or the benefits or location, but that’s not what an interviewer is looking for when they ask, “Why do you want to work here?”. When they ask this question, what they’re actually saying is: “Tell me how you and our company are a good match.”
While you don’t need to memorize a perfect answer, it’s crucial that your response comes across as genuine and thoughtful. One pitfall that many job seekers run into is thinking that they need to convince interviewers of their passion for the position. In some cases, you might actually be in an interview for your dream job. But, in a lot of cases, we’re attracted to job postings for a host of different reasons, not just because we’re chasing a life-long dream or passion.
So, as you’re preparing to answer this question in an interview, sit down and think about all of the different ways in which you and this company would mutually benefit one another. Say, for instance, you love to learn and you’ve always prioritized mentorship. You could respond to this question by saying, “I want to work at X because I value mentorship and it’s clear that your company takes steps to make sure all employees are learning from one another.” Or maybe you feel this job is a great steppingstone in your career advancement. Instead of phrasing it as such, focus on how your skill set is a great match for the role, “I want to work at X because I think the position is a strong match for my skills in X,Y,and Z and I would make a good addition to the team as I continue to expand my skills”.
By avoiding the “overly enthusiastic” and “overly realistic” approaches and sticking with mutual benefits, you’ll be able to assure your interviewer that you’re a good fit. This question is an opportunity to connect the dots during your interview and showcase the exact reasons that you want this job, but also, why this job wants you! Thinking in this mindset can help give you clarity before and during the interview and thinking about this question in advance will help you prepare in more ways than one.
This article was written by Rachel Ludwig.
Rachel Ludwig is an editor and writer based in Brooklyn. Samples of her work can be found at raludwig.com.