Interview Preparation: Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Posted by Patra Frame

Many hiring managers ask some variant on the question of why you want to work for the company, the specific contract, or in a particular part of the organization.

Resist your temptation to sound excited by stating some generalities quickly. “I’ve heard great things about the company” does not display any of your strengths. Statements like that make hiring managers wonder if you are just looking for any job and if you really know what you want.

This is a question which can help you make the case for hiring you. To do that, you need to have a well-thought-out answer that is relevant to the specific work and to the organization.

Do Your Research

In preparation for every interview, research the potential employer.

  • Look at the job posting if you applied in response to one.
  • Review their website.
  • Check them out on social media.
  • Look at the reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Vault.
  • Ask people you know (i.e. your network) who have worked there for info – or ask them to connect you with people who do work there.
  • Do a search for new articles or trade press items that may tell you more.
  • Check out your public library for access to databases that track financial and other data too.
  • Keep records of what you learn.

All of this helps you to know if this is a company you really can succeed in and want to work for. It will help you in preparing for all aspects of the interview and in forecasting what they may be most interested in.

Define What Motivates You

Once you have done your research, look at what really makes you want to work there. Perhaps their corporate values match yours. Or they work with a new technology that you are interested in. Maybe it’s something specific about the work the contract includes or the part of government it supports. Or the hiring manager has a great reputation that includes aspects important to your goals, such as developing their staff or being known as a terrific technical expert within the industry.

Craft Your Response

Once you know your own ‘why I want to work at X’, you can compose an answer that tells both your ‘why’ and demonstrates a reason to hire you. If you have a good success story that supports your reply, all the better.

Sample responses:

  • The last four years of my work has focused on the Asia-Pacific arena and I have traveled extensively there. Plus I’m learning Korean, so when I saw this opportunity on contract Y, it appeared a good match to my interests and expertise. As I looked at your company, I saw that you do a lot of work within DoD which appealed to my goal of continuing to support our national defense. I also noted that you value teamwork. I have led several high-perfoming teams and want to work in a company which values and encourages teamwork. Would you like me to go into more detail?
  • I have extensive biometrics and DNA laboratory experience and it’s important to me to use the technology for positive purposes. Your work in identifying remains from their DNA to re-unite them with their family is such an example. Then I learned that you are a small, woman-owned business. Working for a senior STEM woman entrepreneur would be a wonderful experience, plus I have worked and excelled in three past small businesses. I love the positive can-do attitude of such workplaces and everything I read about this company makes me think I can really contribute and add value quickly here.
  • One of my career goals is to move into program management. My military experience includes a variety of experience in managing programs and people. Everyone I have talked to about your company, as well as what I have seen of your veteran hiring efforts indicates this would be a place where I could both contribute immediately and grow into such a role within 12 -18 months. My cyber security experience would allow me to do this job on contract X well, as I have worked with all aspects of the new technology you are rolling out for the client. This would allow me to add value immediately while growing into a great candidate for your management team in the future.

Any question about why you want to work at a company or in a specific job offers you an opportunity to highlight your knowledge, experiences, and value. Creating an outline of such an answer in advance of an interview also helps you prepare for a wide range of other common questions about your relevant achievements. The average spoken word rate is about 125 per minute. In interviews when you are answering an important question, it is common to speak a bit more slowly than you do in regular conversation. In the examples above, I would expect most interviewees to take about 70-80 seconds.

Give an answer which clearly and specifically shows you know the company, the job, and why you want to work there. It should position you as someone who can contribute to their success quickly. Details are important and so is your enthusiasm. An answer to this question normally would be no more than 60-90 seconds. Be prepared for follow-up questions too.

Patra Frame

Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Management Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.


This entry was posted on Friday, July 26, 2019 11:46 am

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