Countless motivations drive candidates to apply for jobs: passion, expertise, growth potential, and of course, money. But when a hiring manager asks you why you want to work for their company, you need to give an answer with a little more nuance if you’re going to win the job.
Here, we’ll explain what employers are looking for when they ask why you want the job and how to formulate an answer that makes the hiring manager want to offer you the role.
Why do interviewers ask this question?
Hiring is a costly and time-consuming process. The quality of a company’s hires directly impacts its output and productivity. Thus, it makes sense that an organization would want to ensure that your motivations for working there are aligned with theirs for hiring you.
When that’s the case, it’s more likely that you will succeed in the job and stay in the position for an adequate amount of time. This question helps them determine whether your aspirations and their needs are a good match.
It’s also important that your values line up with those of the company. If you have a hard time seeing their vision, you won’t be as engaged with your work or invested in its outcome as someone with a high level of buy-in to the company’s mission.
What is a hiring manager looking for in an answer?
First and foremost, the interviewer wants to find out if your expectations line up with the realities of the job and the company. If you say you’re looking for a role that allows you to use your strong customer service skills, but the position rarely deals with clients, it’s probably not going to be a good fit. The same goes for what you’re looking for in an employer.
They also want to see if you’ve done your homework. Do you understand what the company does and what the job entails? Your answer will reveal how much effort you’ve put into learning about the position ahead of time, which is important in weeding out unprepared candidates.
How to answer the interview question, “Why do you want to work here?”
Show excitement for what you can contribute
Help the interviewer see what things might look like if they hired you by sharing some of the accomplishments you’d want to work toward, tying them to the needs outlined in the job description. Talking about your future with the company–and how your skills would contribute to it–demonstrates that you’re thinking about how to achieve success in the role.
Mention shared values
Pick out one to two things you know are important to the company and explain that they’re also important to you. For example, if you’re passionate about sustainability and the company has set a goal to become carbon neutral, this would be a great joint value to highlight.
Prove that you’ve done your research
Show that you’ve gone above and beyond merely reading the job description by citing information you found while preparing for the interview, like in a social media post, news headline, or company announcement. This demonstrates your respect for the company and genuine investment in the interview process.
How not to answer
You just need a job
While it might be true that you simply need cash, this is not a good time to practice blunt honesty. An employer wants to hire someone who has a reason for showing up each day beyond just collecting a paycheck.
The salary or benefits
While it’s okay to mention that you’ve heard the company treats its employees well, citing salary, health insurance, or any other benefit as your main motivation for applying will reflect poorly on you as a candidate.
It’s a stepping stone to something else
This is tricky because some jobs are obviously not meant to be long-term career goals. Still, revealing that you want the job because of how it will help you on your way to something else isn’t a good strategy. Instead, you might focus on your desire to be part of a talented team or the opportunity to expand your skill set.
Sample answers to “Why do want to work here”
“I’m excited about where the industry is headed and know Smith Corporation has a reputation for being a trailblazer. For example, I saw the CEO quoted in a Wall Street Journal article about how artificial intelligence is transforming the field, and I was very impressed by his vision. I would be honored to be on a team that’s doing such groundbreaking work.”
“I’m passionate about helping brands communicate how they solve problems for customers. With my skills in marketing, I think we could capitalize on a major opportunity to show how your air purifiers fill a need for consumers.”
Skills aren’t the only thing a hiring manager looks for during an interview. They’re also assessing whether your values align with the company and determining whether you’d likely succeed in the role. Sharing a clear and well-thought-out answer to the question, “why do you want to work here” can help demonstrate your qualifications while proving you’d be a good fit on the team.