Reframing your more “honest” answers with the company’s interests in mind.
hy do you want to work here?”
Of all the questions you might be asked at an interview, this one might be the easiest to answer as long as you can keep your eyes on the prize.
After all, this is a question that you answered for yourself days or even weeks ago, when you first sent in your application. Out of all the jobs you saw advertised that day, this one stood out to you as being worth the time it would take for you to apply.
That’s no mean feat — job postings for the same position can be disorientingly similar in their wording, which makes it tough to decide which ones are important. And putting together application materials like resumes and cover letters (or even just modifying existing ones) can be a time-consuming process.
Following all of this, the fact that you’re at this interview in the first place means that there was something about this company that piqued your interest.
So, what was it?
Did you recognize the company name? Did the job sound particularly exciting? Or did you just like company’s interpretation of the position?
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 specifically to the 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.
Here’s a loose sort of template to use as a jumping off point:
This answer should also in some way 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.
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.
They’re looking for reasons why you would fit in with the existing workforce — either in terms of the corporate culture, any ongoing projects there might be, or even just how the company operates on a basic level.
Not all of the following samples will follow this template perfectly, as it’s not a hard-and-fast rule — however, it’s good to remember in a pinch, especially if you forget most of your prepared answer and end up having to come up with an answer on the spot.
Again, you already have your personal answer for why you want the job. So, how do you couch that answer within specific knowledge of the company itself?
Personal Answer: “I’ve written for websites for a few years now, but I’m interested in the chance to be in charge of a team of writers.
Research: The company you’re applying to writes about all kinds of music, but has recently become well-known for its features on up-and-coming artists.
Full Answer: “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.
Now, let’s say you’re applying for a business analyst position.
Personal Answer: “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.”
Research: The company advises all kind of other businesses, but has a lot of contacts in the cereal business specifically.
Full Answer: “I appreciate this company’s interest in letting their employees specialize. I have a lot of experience working within various aspects of business analysis, but I’m looking forward to the possibility of helping Cap’n Crunch run a little more smoothly at an organizational level specifically.”
Not helpful? Maybe instead, you’re a video game developer applying to something new.
Personal Answer: “I’ve pretty much gone as far as I can with the company I’m with — this new place has a lot more opportunities, and the company is having a lot more success, so hopefully the position will be a little more secure.
Research: The company you’re applying to focuses on first-person shooters with a big online multiplayer component.
Full Answer: “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.”
Finally, let’s imagine you’re architect looking for a new position.
Personal Answer: “I’m not being challenged very much by my current position, and I’m looking for something that will let me find more creative solutions to problems.”
Research: The firm you’re applying to has a big focus on sustainable development, and has lots of contacts with government groups as well as colleges and universities.
Full Answer: “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.”
That pretty much does it for this question. Be sure to check out our other articles on how to nail your next interview, like what to say when you’re asked about leaving your last job, or what questions you should ask at the end of your interview.
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