“Why do you want to work here?” – What do you say to such a question?

Q. “I get asked this question during interviews and all I want to say is BECAUSE I NEED A JOB? but have to always come up with some crappy answer like, oh I like the environment here or I enjoy your products/services. It’s such a bad interview question because it answers NOTHING to what kind of employee I’d be but yet I get asked it all the time. What am I supposed to say to this?”


A. While it’s true that interviewing can often seem like a mysterious process, there are a few legitimate reasons one would be asked this question during an interview. Essentially, interviewers ask the question to see if you’re conscious and if you can string some coherent sentences together in a personable manner, so that they might envision themselves and/or their customers interacting with you amiably at some point shortly after they hire you. They want to know if you’re sane, friendly, and smart. If you “get” them, and if they “get” you. If what you’re saying resonates with them.


That’s it. By the time you’ve been chosen for an interview, recruiters and/or hiring managers are already pretty sure you have the skills needed for the job, now they’re trying to decide if they can stand hanging around you all day. People selected to fill openings are the ones that get their interviewers best – they laugh at their silly jokes (and actually find them funny), they get their references, they understand their vocabulary. People that get us are, in general, easier to manage, easier to get along with, more fun to have around, easier to train, easier to trust.


Throughout the interview, converse with your interviewers with the warmth you’d use if they were your dear friends asking questions, but without the cursing and fart jokes.


What would you say to a friend about the most politically correct and yet true reasons you’d genuinely want to work at that company? It can be any of the things you said, or maybe a buddy works there or used to work there and said good things about it, you share a common cause (only if you actually do), they were on a 100 best companies to work for in your city list, they are a green company, they have a generous staff education program, etc.


If you genuinely can’t think of any particular reason you’d want to work there and you’re in the middle of the interview, it’s probably time to question why you applied there in the first place. And realize that you don’t have to deliver the reasons perfectly. Just do some research, deliver your reasons with some heart and do the best you can and they’ll be happy to see you trying. They were you once.


Also, when you start working there, your interviewers are likely to be your new colleagues and, perhaps someday, your friends, so you should be sizing them up for those roles while they’re checking you out. Are they generally polite? Do they seem to care about your interview experience? How do they pass you off one to another? Are they funny? Cold? Odd? Pay attention to what you’re getting yourself into.


Most importantly, just converse like a normal person, like you care about them and care about helping them understand the answers to their questions. You know interviewing is a bit of a game and they know it’s a bit of a game but together you can decide if it’s a good match.

September 5th, 2014

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