Great ways to answer the interview question; Why do you want to work for us?

This is a common interview question that many candidates will not understand the deeper meaning of, they may think this is a quick easy question I can answer by responding with ‘I have the skills in this area/field of work’ or ‘this is a position I am interested in and therefore have applied for’.

But is this really enough for the interviewer? No, interviewers ask this question because they need to ensure you are the right fit for the company, so they need far more information than a general statement of ‘I’m interested in the role’.

Why do interviewers ask this question?

Simply answer the question in terms of ‘I want to work for the company’ or ‘the salary is great’ will not set you apart from other candidates.  In order to stand out from other candidates, you need to prepare before the interview so your responses provide much more detail to the interviewer about you and your interests and values, preparation will also help you feel more relaxed at the interview to answer the questions more confidently.

The interviewer needs to ensure the right calibre of staff are recruited, candidates must look at the job description and goals of the company and ensure their responses are aligned to these, to show you are a good fit for the business.

What you should not say and why not

Your passion and commitment for the job and employer need to come through in your responses.  Interviewers will have heard the generic responses to this question so many times before, so when they hear something different with more thought and meaning, the candidate automatically has the attention of the interviewer.

Generic answers which interviewers will have heard many times before:

  • I need a job as my current contract is ending
  • You have better benefits than my current employer
  • I need money to travel the world
  • I have the experience as you can see on my CV

You need to tailor your responses to the needs of the business and the job description for the role you are applying for and should include examples of your experience and why you feel you and this business will succeed together.

Candidates shouldn’t try to be funny with their responses, you don’t know how jokes or humour will be perceived by the interview panel or company.  Candidates should always remain professional and fully engaged.

Interviewers want to see drive and passion from candidates who are genuinely interested in the role and company.  Interviewers don’t want to invest in candidates who just want any job, they want to employ individuals who they can invest in.

Additional statements to avoid saying:

  • Don’t talk negatively about past employers
  • Don’t talk about salary and benefits
  • Don’t focus discussion on specific working times or time off too much – although many companies are moving to be more flexible employers, you don’t want to give the impression that you will abuse the working hours or policies around this.

How to answer well

Research the company – discuss the ethos and culture of the company and why it is important to you.  Discuss personal goals you would like to achieve or if you have achieved them, how do they relate to the position and company and how your goals would impact positively the role. Think about any niche skills you may acquire and how these can be used in the role and company as an advantage.

Good phrases to use

  • Positive comments you may have found in your research – e.g. it’s great to hear/see people working here feel valued and supported.
  • You want to work within a company where you can invest in your growth and that of the company.
  • Look for a niche skillset that you may have which may benefit the company.
  • Comment on how the organisation gives back to local communities e.g. fundraising – challenging events you may wish to be part of.

Examples that work and why they work

  • The company has a reputation for being an excellent employer due to high staff retention levels, strong leadership and investment in employee development. I believe I would fit into the role as I love seeing and encouraging others to grow and succeed, at the same time I would also be learning.

The candidate has had conversations with others (possibly others already employed) and has common interests as the company values with regard to development and growth and being loyal to the company.

  • When I saw the role advertised, at first I was unsure as I didn’t know the company, however, once I researched the role and company I was so amazed at all the work you get involved in and how far the company has come to date. The company needs exposure so others appreciate what it does and it can grow in the direction the company wishes it to do so.  I’d love to be part of that, I’m intrigued to see more and put forward my ideas to help the company grow as others need to know of the fabulous work taking place.

Honesty is great when backed up with positivity – you’ve researched to ensure the company and job description is the right fit for you.  Demonstrating why you feel the company is great and how your experience fits, whilst being passionate and motivated with the role and company.

The important thing to remember is to research the company and prepare for the interview, and let that come through in your responses.

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