That one obvious interview question that can cost you some nerves

That one obvious interview question that can cost you some nerves

How to react to "Why do you want to work here?" correctly.

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Oliver Jumpertz

Published on Aug 2, 2021

5 min read

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"Why do you want to work here?"

-> Your interviewer

"Well, I am a web developer, and you are looking for one. Additionally, I need the money."

-> You

Some interview questions are stupid. But giving answers like the one above doesn't help.

Let's see how to tackle this one effectively.

Foreword

I've interviewed quite a few times in the last few years, and I also had the honor to interview a few outstanding software engineers. I witnessed this question many times, although I never asked it myself.

I don't particularly like this question, and I love companies that simply throw such questions into the bin. But, there are still companies out there asking questions like this one. And this is why you should be prepared for it and the reason I share this with you.


Why this question is important

Like any other general question that is asked relatively often, this one is also aimed at giving your potential new employer some key information about you. It aims at providing the following information:

  • What is your motivation to work exactly at this company?
  • Are you really motivated to do the job?
  • Are you genuinely interested in contributing to the company?
  • Will you be a good investment for them?

You need to put yourself in the shoes of an employer. Every hire is an investment for them.

They provide

  • Guidance
  • Mentors
  • Education
  • And a budget so you can evolve.

And they want you to make money for them.

This is how a business works. Only motivated employees do their best to contribute to the goals of a company. They are the ones that put in their thoughts and work into reaching company goals. Unmotivated employees will do their work, but they won't give a hundred percent. Unmotivated employees are also more likely to leave the company again after a short while. This turnover is costly for any company, and it is also costly for the employees who leave. They have to go through the whole interview process once again, as well.

Not all companies are faceless and only business-focused entities. Some of them really have a huge interest in your well-being. If they only hire you because you need the job, they don't do you a favor, either. If getting up to go to work each day becomes so hard for you because you don't like the job, you might even end up with depression.

You should be happy with what you do. If you happen to get to this point, you found a good job. This is why this question is often asked at the beginning of your interview, where it sets the stone for it, or at the end of your interview when you learned more about the role, to check your interest and enthusiasm for it.


How to deal with this question

Good preparation is everything. Never come to an interview unprepared. It usually only backfires. It is in your best interest to get to know the company, what it stands for, and what its mission is as good as possible.

You make a commitment by signing their offer. This usually means showing up there every day (in-office or remote) and doing your work. You will inevitably contribute to the company's success. You should thus already be aware of what you expect from the company, and be sure that the role they offer and what they do is really for you.

Take notes and do your best to write down:

  • What the company does
  • What it stands for
  • What mission it has

With this information at hand, you can take a look at your own expectations:

  • What work makes you happy?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What do you want to contribute?
  • What culture do you need to thrive?
  • How do you want to help the company succeed?

If you can answer each of these questions honestly, you are actually already set up pretty well.

There is no need to make up the perfect answer somehow. Although it might seem tempting to make it up, so you get the job, it will only hurt you. Craft a story to tell your interviewers why you want to work at this exact company. This is everything you really need to answer this question because there is no right or wrong.

An example

"This is a great question because I also asked myself why I should join your company when I read about you and your job offer. I think that our values align pretty well. You are doing an awesome job of making the cloud easier for everyone. And this is exactly what I also try to do as a content creator and open source contributor in my free time. Your vision of making the cloud as easily usable as any web application is what I am dreaming of for quite some time now. This job is the perfect opportunity for me to contribute to this great goal and use my expertise in this field to help you succeed with this mission."

Another example

"I think my current skillset perfectly aligns with what you search for. I always wanted to get into product development, and your company seems to be the perfect fit for me. I like how you managed to build a SaaS product so many people love to use. And as I am a user myself, I would love to contribute to its further development with my previous expertise. I have found no other company that aligns with my goals as perfectly as yours. This is why I had to apply for this position."

There is really nothing special with the two example answers above. It's just important to be honest, to only state what really is true, and to really believe in what you say there.

If you manage this, you've already delivered on this question.


Before You Leave

If you would love to read even more content like this, feel free to visit me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I'd love to count you as my ever-growing group of awesome friends!

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