Why do you want to work here? It's a common interview question and one you should expect to encounter during almost every job interview. Even though the question can seem simple, it's difficult to provide a good answer if you're not prepared.
There is no excuse not to prepare for this question, it could determine the final outcome of your interview. Be on the lookout for other forms of this question, such as: "Why do you want to work with us?", "Why are you interested in this position?", or "What can you contribute to this company?".
With a little preparation, your answer can help you stand out from the sea of job seekers, get the hiring manager invested in you, and prove your value to the organization.
When "Why do you want to work here?" is likely to come up
"Why do you want to work here?" will likely come up multiple times in the interview process. Recruiters use this question to filter out candidates and hiring managers use it to determine if you're a good fit for the company.
During the phone interview stage, recruiters want to see if you've researched the company and are excited about the role. If you answer well, they'll recommend to the hiring manager that you go to the next stage of the interview process.
The hiring manager will then use this question to see how you could fit into the team and the company. They want to see how your skills and experience map to the position, and what specifically makes you excited to work for them.
Don't understand the value of enthusiasm. Managers often take it as a signal that the employee will be hardworking and contribute to the company's goals.
Why the interviewer asks "Why do you want to work here?"
Hiring managers and recruiters ask "Why do you want to work here?" to assess:
- Your enthusiasm about the position and the company
- If you and your values align with the organization's culture
- Whether you've done research on the company and its products
- Authenticity and substance
These are general rules. What they are specifically looking for will depend on the size and nature of the company you're applying to.
For example, if you are looking for a remote job, the interviewer is probably looking to see if you have experienced working remotely and understand the benefits and challenges of remote work. If you are looking to get a job at a startup, they want to know that you understand what it means to work at a fast-growing company.
Think of it from the potential employer's perspective: the interviewer wants a real, substantive answer that addresses all the points above and reinforces that you are uniquely qualified for the position. Their job is to hire the candidate that believes in the company's mission and wants to have a positive impact on the company's culture and customers.
Although it might seem counterintuitive, this interview question is not really about you as an individual, but rather what you can do as an employee. The interview process is resource intensive and hiring managers want to realize the best return on their time invested.
How to answer "Why do you want to work here?"
There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to "Why do you want to work here?" that will convince every interviewer to hire you. But there are a few strategies you can use to prepare.
A good way to think about this question is to reframe it as two questions: "How does your experience relate to the position and the company?" and "What makes you excited to work here?"
We recommend preparing an answer prior to the interview process. That way, you can get clear about what you want, do the required research, and answer the question genuinely during the interview.
Your answer should show your understanding of the company culture, mission statement, and how your skills and interests fit the role.
1. Get clear on why you're applying
While hiring managers ask this question to assess how you could benefit the company, the most important thing is to answer the question for yourself.
After all, if you are hired you'll be working at the company and life is better if you're excited to go to work each day.
If you can't truthfully answer the question with enthusiasm, why are you applying in the first place? If you aren't excited, it will come across in the interview no matter how much you prepare.
We recommend thinking about what industries you would love to work in. For example, if you love fintech or cryptocurrency companies, apply for roles in those industries. It'll make answering this question a lot easier.
Even if you aren't passionate about the industry, think through what type of manager you want to work for. Do you like hands-on help? Or do you prefer to have minimal oversight?
Your manager will have a huge influence on how you experience work day-to-day, regardless of what company you work for.
If possible, find out who the hiring manager is and what their management style is like. Then make a decision on whether their values align with you.
Even if you can't find this out until you're in the interview, that's okay. Every interview is a learning experience and the more exposure you get to different companies, the clearer your answer will become.
2. Do your research
Once you've identified a job you want to apply for, invest time researching the company.
It's not enough to love the company's mission and core values or to say that you could learn a lot from the hiring manager. You want to assess whether or not your experience and skills will make you successful at the company and whether you're a good fit for their company culture.
The good news is it doesn't take a whole lot of effort. Start with the company website and familiarize yourself with their products and mission. From there, we recommend watching or listening to interviews with the CEO or members of the senior leadership team. This is a great way to get a feel of the company culture.
After that, try to find out who the hiring manager is. Then see if their work history and management style resonate.
To really stand out, we also recommend reading about anything related to the company that is relevant to your role.
For example, if you're applying for a sales role, read the case studies on their website and look up their product on comparison sites like G2 or Gartner. If they have a self-service free trial, sign up and use the product. This will speak the opportunity and product in far more detail than the average candidate.
Finally, if you know anyone who works there don't be afraid to reach out. They can tell you what it's like to work there, what skills are lacking, and whether they think the company is compatible with your career goals.
This process will take time, but the time invested will pay dividends. Researching the company means you'll be able to answer truthfully with an understanding of why you're excited and what you can bring to the company.
3. Construct your answer
Combine the reason you're applying with the research you've done to structure your response to highlights the mutual benefit you and the potential employer will receive if you are hired.
The best answers will incorporate a personal reason for applying for the job, an understanding of the company's products and mission, and an explanation of how your skills will contribute.
There's no time limit that you should follow, just keep it as short as possible and aim to have a compelling story to share that shows your understanding of the company, interest in the role, and how your skills fit in.
And prepare for follow-up questions. For example, an employer might ask a behavioral interview question based on your answer to try to elicit how you would perform in a similar situation. We recommend using a structure method of responding to these questions called the STAR method as it will help you outline the specific situation, task, action, and result.
When used well, the STAR interview technique is one of the best ways for job seekers to answer behavioral questions in a succinct way that communicates their past experience and achievements.
What goes unsaid is as important. Do your best to keep the tone positive and spend as little time as possible discussing what you don't like about your current or previous roles. If the employer has a follow-up question about what prompted you to look for another job, try to frame it around what you like about the interviewer and their company.
In a similar vein, don't lean to heavily on the compensation or benefits. Although they are obvious factors, anchoring on those doesn't explain why you're the best fit for the company. We recommend focusing on convincing the hiring manager that you're the best person for the job until you receive a formal offer. Then you'll have more leverage when negotiating your salary.
Finally, don't be afraid to show your personality and how you truly feel about the opportunity. If it's your dream job, let them now. It shows the interviewer that the company and role matter to you. By answering this question well, you can help make the interview experience positive and memorable.
Example answers to "Why do you want to work here?"
A good answer to "Why do you want to work here?" will set the tone for the rest of the interview and help you stand out in a sea of candidates. It's a great opportunity to highlight your experience, the research you've done on the company, and your enthusiasm for the role.
Answer the interviewer in a way that makes it clear you're excited about the company and job. Answer directly and confidently. How you answer is as important as what you say.
Below are some examples of answers that can help you frame what your answer.
Example answer #1: Highlighting passion for the company culture, industry, and their growth strategy
"I'm passionate about automation and software as a service in general and Zapier is a market leader in both categories. I've been a fan of your SEO strategy from afar and even implemented a similar strategy in my previous role which grew revenue from organic search by 30%. I've also been working remotely for the last five years, I'm a fan of remote work and believe my skills make me a great fit for the SEO manager position."
Why it works: This answer shows the interviewer that you have researched the company, understand what industries they operate in, and have experience working remotely. It also shows that you've dove into the part of the company that you'd be working on, understand how they are currently growing, and demonstrated that your skill set is a good fit for the role.
Example answer #2: Showing your passion for their product and your relevant experience
"Not only is Stripe a leader in the payments industry, you're driving forward product design. I've been a Stripe user for the last five years and I've seen how much it has evolved. My ten years of experience as a product designer at other software companies like Webflow, GitLab, and Canva mean I understand how to design for a global audience at scale."
Why it works: You've clearly researched the company, in fact, you've done one better by being an active user of the company's products. You've also outlined to the interviewer how your previous experience at companies in the same industry could apply to the role.
Example answer #3: Drawing a personal connection with the company mission
"Canva's reputation is stellar. A few former colleagues of mine work here, and I've seen how much Canva's core values of being a force for good, empowering others, pursuing excellence, being a good human, making complex things simple, and setting crazy big goals bleeds into everything you do. I helped grow VEED.IO's social media channels by 45% while I worked there and despite the scale difference, I believe I could contribute significantly to Canva's growth as well."
Why it works: Recruiters are always looking for candidates who are passionate about the company's values. Highlighting aspects of their culture that are important to you shows you've done the research. It's also a great sign when you've worked at a competitor as it implies you understand the problems they face and have skills that could contribute to their mission. It's best to use this approach when you have a personal connection to the company and its values.
Example answer #4: Emphasizing what attracted you to the role
"I love that MainStreet's mission is to help every entrepreneur push the world forward. I previously co-founded a startup and ran the product management function so I know first hand how much startups and founders have helped shape the economic landscape for the better. I know my skills leading product at Keeper Tax and shaping their roadmap based on customer feedback will help."
Why it works: This answer shows you've done your research and have a good sense of what the company stands for and the work you will be doing. With this response, the candidate has outlined what drew them to the role and how they can add value based on previous experience.
Tips for giving the best answer to "Why do you want to work here?"
When asked "Why do you want to work here?" or "Why are you interested in this position" in your job search, it's best to follow to these tips:
- Get clear on why you want to work there but be honest: This may seem obvious, but it's much easier to answer this question if you have a genuine desire to work at the company in the position you are applying for. Even though you need to tie your skills to the company's culture and mission, don't exaggerate.
- Research the company: A good answer to this question is based on research. Look at their website, listen to interviews with their team, and read their blog posts. If you know people working at the company, talk to them about the hiring manager is looking for. Be as knowledgable and prepared as you can. If you're looking for a remote job, use our remote company database to research companies.
- Think about how you are uniquely placed to help: Based on your research and the job description, tie your skills and experience to the company and role you are applying for. Help them understand how you're the best fit out of all candidates.
- Practice and prepare: Prepare your answer prior to the interview and practice. While you don't want to come off as too scripted, it's better than coming off as unprepared.
- Be succinct: Provide as much context as you need and no more. You don't want to drone on for twenty minutes and eat up valuable time in the interview.
- Focus on storytelling: Stories help you develop a deeper connection with the interviewer and ensure that they don't forget about you five minutes after the interview.
- Build a personal connection: Find something about the company, role, or hiring manager that you personally relate to and explain why. People tend to like and remember people who they share common values with.
- Be enthusiastic: If you're excited about the company or the role, don't be afraid to let your natural enthusiasm come out. Companies want to hire people who are excited about their mission and pumped to work for them.
Mistakes to avoid
A bad answer to "Why do you want to work here?" isn't the end of the world, but it will influence the hiring manager's decision. Emphasizing your desire to make more money or the need for a job are common mistakes. But many candidates also fall short by not framing their answer properly.
Don't worry too much if you feel like your answer fell short. Most companies understand that interviewing can be stressful and mistakes can happen.
With that said, here are a few things to avoid:
- Focusing on your need for a job: This is a candid response but does nothing to differentiate you from other candidates, nor does it demonstrate your interest in the role or company. It can also raise a red flag for the hiring manager as you could leave if you find a new opportunity more compelling.
- Anchoring on the pay and benefits: Every company wants to be seen as a great place to work and the best places to work do offer competitive compensation to attract talent. However, most companies don't want to hire people whose sole motivation is the monetary value they receive.
- Seeing the role as a stepping stone in your career path: No employer expects you to stay with the organization forever, but an answer like this implies you're more focus on the future than the job opening you're applying for. It also suggests you're already thinking about the next step in your career path before you've been hired.
- Emphasizing what is wrong with the company: While it's great to do your research, it can be a red flag if you point out everything the company is doing wrong and that you're the only person who can solve them. There's a good chance you don't have as much context on the problems as the interviewer too. Instead emphasize what think the key problems are, ask the interviewer if you're correct, and outline how your skills could help.
- Wasting the recruiter's time: If a recruiter reaches out to you and invites you to apply for a role, you should still invest time researching the company if you plan to take the interview. Otherwise, you're wasting your own and the recruiter's time which could backfire if you apply to the company again in the future.
- Being too generic or boring: A generic answer does nothing but show the interviewer that you haven't researched the company or position. Remember, your job is to convince the hiring manager that you're the perfect candidate.
- Trying to be funny: Most interviewers aren't looking to hire a comedian. Answering with "I'm only here for the money" or "You look like you could use my help" will only make you come across as insincere or unprepared.
Example of a bad answer to "Why do you want to work here?"
"Honestly, I just need a job. I'm not that excited about the opportunity and I don't know much about your company beyond that you pay well and have great benefits. I don't think it matters that I'm not passionate as I'm highly skilled and your company has a bunch of issues that my skills can fix."
Why it doesn't work: This answer is unenthusiastic, shows you don't have a passion for the role or company, and that you only care about getting a job and the benefits it provides. It also shows you think you know what the company needs and are arrogant enough to say it without asking if your assumptions are correct.
Possible follow-up questions
- Do you have any questions for me? Read our guide on best questions to ask in an interview.
- What can you contribute to this company? This question is similar to "Why do you want to work here?" and will only be asked as a follow-up if you weren't able to clearly articulate your value in your answer.
- Any number of behavioral interview questions. Be sure to use the STAR method when answering.