“Why do you want this job?”
On paper, it’s a simple question, but for many interviewees, it can be a doozy. Your interview may have gone well, but if you fumble on this seemingly easy inquiry, you may fail to stick the landing and miss out on the job.
This common question allows hiring managers to see if you’re the right person for not just the position but for the organization itself. Many job seekers are caught off guard by this question, but they shouldn’t be. Separate yourself from the pack and wow your interviewer by making these preparations:
“What interviewers are looking for when they ask that question is the depth of thinking and seriousness a candidate has about working at this company,” –Jeff Hyman, CEO of Recruit Rockstars
Ask yourself the same question
Before you even agree to the interview, ask yourself the same question. Why do you want this position? Are you just looking for the first company in your field that will hire you? Are you looking for a bigger payday? Are you searching for a better cultural fit? Does this role excite you? You’re interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. Knowing your own motivations is the best first step.
“You spend the bulk of your time at work. It pays to work somewhere you like.” –Abi Tyas Tunggal, Himalayas
Do your research
As always, doing your homework before the interview is the best practice. While you’ll be able to have some of your questions answered during your interview, you’ll want to know as much about the organization as possible before the interview.
This starts with the basics: go to the organization’s website and look around, especially at anything involving company culture, find reviews from past employees and customers, and check out their social media. But job search strategist Hannah Morgan advises going even further. Look into press releases, talk to current and past employees yourself, and conduct an informational interview if possible. The more information you have, the better idea you’ll have of what life for this company will look like and whether or not this is a job you want.
Identify common ground
Through your research, you should gain an acute understanding of the company’s culture as well as the nitty-gritty details of the position. Look for overlaps between your valued traits and theirs. Indeed recommends making lists of your career objectives and your core values and looking for matches.
If the company’s culture aligns with your own and the position itself looks to be a match for your career goals, it’s much easier to express that to your interviewer. You’ll be more enthusiastic about accepting a position there, and you’ll be able to demonstrate your value.
Emphasize what you can offer
“Why do you want to work here?” isn’t just a face-value question. This is an excellent chance to demonstrate your value and why you’re the best candidate for the position. Connect your skills and experiences, along with what makes you unique, to the job. This is a final chance to sell yourself as the best candidate. The Muse’s Lily Zhang suggests keeping your answer brief but to focus on a few key skills and relating them to the job posting. Meanwhile, Forbes contributor Ashira Prossack suggests that this is an ideal time to highlight your soft skills.
“Your unique skills and talents are a selling point here, particularly soft skills. The more you’re able to demonstrate how you’ll use your skills to add value, the better you’ll stand out in the interview.” – Ashira Prossack
Make sure your answers are detailed, both in regard to your own skills and experiences and when you reference the company. Use tangible examples of how you’ll use your skills to bring value to the role. Don’t tell the interviewer you have good leadership skills—relate those skills to the position and how you’ll use them if hired.
Reference direct details about the company. Point to a mission statement or a specific innovation and build your answer from there, proposes career coach Emily Liou.
“If you’re interviewing for a position at Apple, for example, and tell the hiring manager you want to work there because they make cool computers, that’s not going to land you an offer, because so many other candidates are saying the exact same thing.” –Emily Liou
Avoid pitfall answers
In accordance with the above point, details are good and vague, meandering answers are bad. One of the most common pitfalls is only focusing on what the company can offer you, usually in terms of salary, advancement opportunities, or other perks. Answering in this manner can not only make you look selfish but appear as though you’ll accept the first offer given to you. Make sure to reference the company itself and focus on the mutual value you can offer each other.
Some of the most basic interview questions can throw off even the best candidates, and it pays (literally!) to be prepared. If you’re interviewing for a job, there’s a strong chance you want that job. Figuring out why and being able to effectively express that desire is the key to a successful answer. Demonstrate your value and be detailed, and you’ve got a good chance of being hired.