|  September 12, 2013

Common Interview Questions: Why do you want to work here?

Thanks for reading our series on common interview questions! If you’re getting ready for an interview, I also recommend checking out our interview prep worksheets, which will take you through step by step exercises that will ensure you ace that interview!

The common interview question: Why do you want to work here?

Why do they care?: Because employees who are passionate about the companies they work for do better work and stay with the company for a longer amount of time.

How to answer the question: Do your research, pick genuine reasons, and share them in an articulate and passionate way!

Not only is this one of the most important questions you’ll answer in an interview, but it’s also one you should ask yourself.  Once you land the job, you’ll be spending the majority of your waking hours at that company doing that job.  So really think about the common interview question “why do you want to work here?”

There are a few good reasons why you may genuinely want to work somewhere.  

Take a look at some below and each time you interview with a different company, be prepared to speak at least one of these reasons (or combine a few).

Reason #1You admire the founders/leadership

Learn about a company’s senior leaders/founders/CEO and their “vision” and explain why it aligns with your personal visions or beliefs.  If it doesn’t you can also just articulate that you find their vision impressive or admirable.

While helping someone look for summer internship last year, we identified Donna Karan as a great company to target. She read the website “cover to cover” and learned why Donna started the company, what her vision was (and is), and also about the “Zen Initiative”, a charity that Donna launched in 2007.  When she (inevitably) got this question in her interview, she was able to explain what resonated with her about the founder’s vision, leadership, and charitable efforts… and that was a great answer (she got the job).

Reason #2: You believe in the product or services the company provides

You may love your Nike shoes and wear them every day but saying that should only be part of your answer if you are interviewing at Nike.  In addition to mentioning that you are a huge fan and already a customer (which people love to hear) you should also algin yourself with something deeper that differentiates the product.

Some examples could be “great price points” (affordability), the attention to quality, the fact that a product is a leader in it’s space, or the fact that they are produced in a certain environment or country.  Go a little deeper in explaining why you appreciate the product or service the company is providing.  It will go a long way.

Reason #3. The culture and environment is a good fit for your personality/work style

It is always a good idea to align yourself to the culture or work environment.  If you are interviewing at a “fast-paced” organization, your interviewer will want to hear that you thrive on that, versus shy away from it. If someone walks into a 1 year old startup and say they work best in really structured environment during their interview, they are not going to be a compelling candidate.  If someone walks into Citi and mentions they work best in a fluid, creative, environment, that also probably won’t end well.

The best possible thing is to see if you can talk to someone who works at a certain company and ask about the culture there and (if it really does sound like a good fit) express that during your interview.  Also, you’ll then have the opportunity to name drop if you think the person you spoke to would endorse you.  Even if you don’t know someone first hand, there are websites out there (such as glassdoor.com) where you can read what current and former employees say about a company.

Reason #4. The company has had impressive traction/success

Educate yourself on recent news and updates.  A simple google news search can provide you with tons of information about a company and “what they’re up to lately”.  Your interviewer likely lives and breathes each major event that happens (i.e. launching a new business venture, product, service, opening a new office, etc) so having a candidate who is educated on any of those major events (and can speak intelligently about them) is a definite plus.  If you do this, it will show that you are invested in the company’s growth and progress.  Definitely read the “researching the company past” and “researching the company present” articles as well to learn more about how to research a company you are interviewing with.

Of course there are tons of other actual reasons you may want to work somewhere such as “they pay well”, “my commute would be an hour shorter”, “I’m desperate for a job” but those are not the types of reasons you want to give in an interview.  It is so crucial to know how to show thoughtful enthusiasm for each company you are interviewing with.  It will, without a doubt, help you land the job.

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