How to Answer 'Why Do You Want to Work Here?'

Thanks to internet searches and social media posts, parts of the hiring process are more transparent than ever. Employers and job seekers can now discover a lot about each other well before a first conversation occurs through LinkedIn, online portfolios, Facebook and Instagram.

Even still, there remains a critical question that recruiters want candidates to answer to get a better understanding of their intentions: Why do you want to have this particular job at this particular company at this particular time? The response can indicate whether a candidate will be a job hopper if another offer comes along or how well a candidate will fit into the team.

You may think the "correct" answer to this tricky interview question can be found in the materials companies publish to establish their brands. They'll tell you why you should want to work for them on their websites and on their LinkedIn company pages. They'll highlight all the wonderful things they offer in terms of employee benefits, working environment and mission. They'll post videos of good-looking, highly satisfied employees speaking enthusiastically about why their offices are great places to work.

But parrot all those things back at your own peril if you are asked about your motivations at an interview.

These are bad 'why do you want to work here' answers.

No matter how much the employer boosts of free food, employee parties and open taps, don't let hiring managers think that these are your reasons for applying for the job. No matter how much the employer talks about its wonderful health plans, liberal personal days policy and competitive pay, none of these should make the list of why you want the job for which you are applying.

No matter how hard up you are for a job, and the fact that you are applying to any and every opportunity that might result in a paycheck, never say, "I just need any job I can get to pay the mounting bills."

These are good 'why do you want to work here' sample answers.

You'll be wise not to wait to be asked in an interview the looming question: "Why do you want to work here?" Instead, confront it head-on in your cover letter. And be prepared to follow up in your interview. Here's how.

Show how you identify with the company.

Maybe you or someone in your family has been using its products or services for quite some time. You might say, "I've been using your X since I was a little kid."

[See: Explore the Diverse Jobs of the Presidents.]

Or maybe you identify with the good that the company does in the world. You could say: "It's remarkable how beneficial it is that you have been able to bring the price of X down to make it so much more affordable for people on tight budgets."

Talk about the company's mission.

The CEO of Patagonia plans to donate $10 million saved from the Trump tax cuts to environmental groups. Actions such as these are carefully planned to give a particular message about the nature of a company. You might say, "In this time of global warming, I was particularly impressed by your company's commitment to redirect its income tax refund to help the environment. This is the kind of company with a social conscience that I want to commit to!"

[See: The 12 Best Jobs That Help People.]

Compare yourself to the people who already work there.

Conduct a LinkedIn search for people who currently work at the company, and then scan through several of the employees. Look for areas of commonality with them, and even better, search out hiring trends that you fit. For example, many companies favor hiring from certain former companies or schools.

Your "why do you want to work here" answer should:

-- Focus on how you identify with the company.

-- Relate to the company's mission.

-- Show how you fit with the company culture.

-- Not focus on pay, benefits or your need for a new job.

Happy hunting!


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