How To Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?” (With Examples): Job Interview Question

By Ryan Morris - Oct. 6, 2021
Articles In Guide

Find a Job You Really Want In

Preparing for a job interview means looking over commonly asked interview questions, and no question is more common than “why do you want to work here?” While this might seem like a hard one to get wrong, there are plenty of ways to turn a mediocre answer into a memorable one.

The best answers will emphasize specific elements of the company, while also describing how a career here fits into your broader career goals.

We’ll go over hiring managers’ real intention behind this question, tips for answering, common mistakes, and sample answers to get the ball rolling.

Why Interviewers Ask “Why Do You Want To Work Here?”

Interviewers ask “why do you want to work here” to hear the genuine reason you applied for the job. More importantly, they want to see how much research you’ve done. After all, you can’t describe why you want to work “here” specifically unless you know at least a bit of what that entails.

Unlike some of the other questions interviewers might ask, total honesty could work pretty well for this question. After all, this can’t be some cookie-cutter answer — it needs to apply to the particular company you’re interviewing with.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should just give the first answer that comes to mind.

Maybe the main reason you liked this position was that it would “give you room to grow,” or it will allow you to develop experience in a field that you’ve always been interested in.

Those are all good reasons for you to accept the job once they (hopefully) offer it to you, and your potential employers do want to know these reasons if that’s the honest truth.

But they’re also looking to see how you’ll employ this new experience on the behalf of their company, or how helping you grow will benefit them.

You’ll want to keep that particular framing of the question in mind whenever you’re thinking about how you should answer.

Also note that “why do you want to work here” has a few alternatives. Variations of this question include:

  • Why do you want to work for us?

  • What made you decide to apply here?

  • What attracted you to this position?

  • Why do you want this job?

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

Here’s how to answer “why do you want to work here”:

  1. Research the company. Your answer should showcase the level of research that you’ve done about the company, and you should be as specific as possible about this information when you can.

    Check out the company’s About Us page, their social media pages, blog posts, competitors, and any other news or publically available information about them. All of this will help come up with a more specific and impressive reason for why you want to work for this employer.

    Remember, they’re not asking why you want to work this kind of job, but why you want to work at their company in particular. After all, when a recruiter asks “tell me about yourself” or “describe your strengths and weaknesses,” they want an answer in the context of the specific company you’re interested in. You also want to consider your broader career goals when formulating an answer.

  2. Relate your background to the job description. Just as important as researching the company is reading the job description closely. Remember that these documents serve as a wishlist and a portrait of the ideal candidate. Make sure that your answer serves, at least in part, to highlight that you have the right skill set to get the job done.

    More importantly, be mindful about which parts of the job description really excite you. Those are the ones that hiring managers are hoping to learn more about through your answer.

  3. Connect your values to the company’s. A stand-out answer will also tie in your personal values with something you uncovered about the company through your research. It might be that they’re carbon neutral or that they promote inclusivity through certain policies, or whatever.

    Harping on this point can seem disingenuous unless you have a bona fide track record of being actively involved with these issues, but briefly touching on something like this can be a nice touch.

  4. Close with goals. Talking about your short-term goals for the job is a great way to close this answer. It drives home the fact that you understand the role, already have ideas about how you’d like to contribute, and are excited to get started.

    You can get into career goals as well, but it can be a bit dangerous since the hiring manager might think you’re implying that this job is merely a stepping stone to grander things.

Example Answers to the Interview Question “Why Do You Want To Work Here?”

And now some example answers for various job titles:

  1. Example Answer 1: Editorial Position for a Music Website

    “I’m interested in this company because, while I’ve been writing about the music industry for a few years now, the chance to cover up-and-coming musicians really interests me. As an editor, I’d encourage my writers to maintain the focus on these newcomer musicians while thinking of other ways we can continue expanding our audience.”

  2. Example Answer 2: Business Analyst

    “At my last position, I was expected to spend a lot of time on systems analysis and general IT stuff. I’m interested in this position because that’s not an expectation here, as the focus is on other aspects like strategic planning.

    Specifically, I’d like to broaden my research into the cereal market and understand how business processes work here. I’m sure there ways to make the process more efficient.”

  3. Example Answer 3: Game Developer

    “I’m interested in this company because of the chance to work on some bigger projects. I’m a big fan of the games this company creates — the online competitive side of them is already wildly successful, and I’m curious to see if there’s a bigger role for me when it comes to streamlining the matchmaking process for some of those games.”

  4. Example Answer 4: Architect

    “Working with this firm interests me because of its focus on designing buildings with sustainable development in mind. The unique problems that come with sustainable design leave a lot of room for creative solutions, and I’m excited to see what kind of contributions I can make to any ongoing projects along these lines.”

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Answering “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

We’ve covered what you want to say when answering this question, but it’s equally important to go over what you should definitely not say. The interview process is full of land mines; be prepared and you can avoid them all. If you forget everything else, remember to avoid the following:

  • Lack of enthusiasm. Maybe you don’t have an extra-special reason that you want to work at this particular company, but you shouldn’t make it obvious. Everyone tells little white lies during interviews, and it’s harmless to make yourself out to be more enthusiastic than you are.

    If you’re moving up in rank or shifting your normal responsibilities, it’s especially important to express your passion for the field. Basically, if you can’t get excited about working at this company, then why should the company be excited about hiring you?

  • Salary talk. A bigger paycheck might be a (significant) factor in you wanting to work for the company, but it shouldn’t be a major focus in your answer. Companies want employees who are in it for more than just the money, so avoid salary talk when responding to this question.

  • Personal information. Perhaps you’re excited to work here because the schedule flexibility will make it easier to raise your kids or the office is close to home and your car is on its last legs.

    The interviewer doesn’t care about any of that; she wants to hear about your enthusiasm to work for their company, so cut out any info that doesn’t directly relate to that.

  • Company perks. Similar to salary talk, you should avoid focusing too much on the company’s benefits and perks. It’s fine if that’s what attracted you to work there (that’s what perks are for, after all), but it shouldn’t be your primary concern when answering this question.

  • Overly general answers. It shouldn’t seem like you just want to work for someone (anyone) new. Think about it; you wouldn’t tell a first date that the only reason you’re there is that they’re the only person who called.

    Instead, talk about how awesome the company and position are, using that research we discussed earlier to get more specific.

Tips for Answering “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

Here are some parting tips for this common interview question:

  • Be direct and specific. Answering this question directly and specifically shows that you’ve thought about your answer. If you can’t give a straightforward answer to a question like this, the interviewer will be concerned about your ability to answer any question directly.

  • Be brief. This question typically comes somewhere near the beginning of a job interview. That means you’ll have plenty of time to get into more details about your skills, background, and career goals. Keep your answer sharply focused on the primary part of the question — “why do you want to work here?”

  • Focus on the employer. Don’t forget to bring your answer around to what’s in it for the company if they hire you. Basically, you want to get the point across that “I want to work here to help you do XYZ better.” It doesn’t need to be the main feature of your answer, but keep it in mind as part of your answer’s overall message.

  • Consider cultural fit, complement, or add. We touched on values above, but another good thing to keep in mind is what sort of culture you’ll be entering. You don’t always have to sell yourself as a cultural fit. Sometimes, bringing a unique vibe or vision to the office is just what the position calls for.

Final Thoughts

So now you can fully articulate why you decided to click on the job application link in the first place. If you’re having trouble coming up with a good answer to why you want to work there, then you may have bigger questions to ask yourself.

Even if the original reason you clicked on the job was because of the ALL CAPS TITLE, you now have a solid, job interview-worthy answer.

As a bonus, here’s a template crafted by an expert:

What are some tips for answering “Why do you want to work here?”

Daniel K. Berman PhD
Harvard Alumni

Here’s a template to answer “Why do you want to work here?”:

“From the research I’ve done on [say the name of the company here], I believe that my skills, approach, and values are all in complete alignment with those of the company.”

(Emphasize the two words ‘complete alignment’ and then provide one example each — of a skill, approach, and value — tailored to your specific situation)

“One of my main skills is strong communication, both oral and written. I’m aware that the culture here at [name of company] places a premium on good communication, with both co-workers and customers. My approach in life has always been to go the extra mile in whatever I’m doing.

“Based on what I hear about [name of company], this is consistent with the way things are done here and would be very helpful in terms of achieving the company’s mission of [whatever the company says its mission is on its website]. One key value that has been instilled in me by my parents since childhood is loyalty, which is part of the reason I think I would contribute value here as a member of the team.”

The three keywords above have been bolded, to show that you should emphasize them when speaking.

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Author

Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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