On Fridays, I'm posting a job search question from one of our readers. This was a question posted in response to my posting on Linkedin Answers “Candidates - What's your most difficult job search question?”
R.R. shared a question he had about his own job search, and asked:
"I'm never sure how to answer the question 'Why do you want to work here?' The automatic answer in my head is: I want to work here because I want a job!"
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This is a common interview question, as employers want to understand your motivation, why you think you are a good fit, if you've prepared for the interview, and even if this is just one of the 500 companies you've applied to. Most importantly, a hiring manager is looking for some assurance if they hire you, that you'll care.
Unfortunately, saying "I need a job" doesn't do a good job of giving an employer that you'll care about the job, even though it may be the truth.
This question requires preparation - to be effective it requires an individualized answer that matches the companies needs and future path with your skills and future path.
Here are some steps to prepare for this question in an upcoming interview to increase your chances of answering it successfully:
- Use Guerrilla job search and research to clearly understand company and hiring manager:
- Problems: By understanding the company's, department's, or (best yet) hiring manager's current problems you can frame the 'Why do you want to work here' question into providing the solution. Guerrilla job search (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/11/guerrilla-job-search-tactics.html) and research (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/05/4-killer-ways-to-use-research.html) can help uncover publicly stated and non-public issues.
- Goals: By understanding the company's, department's or hiring manager's goals, you can also frame 'Why do you want to work here' into helping to meet these goals (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/03/would-you-stop-looking-for-job-already.html). For instance, if the hiring manager is trying to get promoted, they will likely first have to have groomed a replacement. In that case they may be looking for someone who is eager for advancement. A hiring manager in a different situation may be looking for employees who are happy with a stable work environment but not looking for additional responsibilities. The better you can understand these issues through Guerrilla job search, the more likely your answer will match with hiring manager needs.
- What they may be trying to accomplish longer term. If the company seeks long term growth, and you focus on your experience as a cost cutter, it may be difficult for the hiring manager to see you as a fit with the company's future needs.
- Think WIFT: Even though the question asks you what's in it for me (WIFM), the company cares more if your goals are consistent with what they need - What's In It For Them (WIFT). The better you can be in framing your needs as things that the company needs also, the better chance you'll have of being perceived as a good fit (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/employer-value-statements-make-your.html).
- Don't answer until you are ready: If you are asked this question over the phone, or at the beginning of the interview, you don't have enough information to honestly answer the question. I don't see that you have anything to gain by answering this early in the process. Rather, suggest that you're still learning about the company, to see if you do want to work there and suggest to table the question until the end of the interview (or after the interview).
Readers - What have you found successful in answering "Why do you want to work here?"
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