”Why do you want to work at this company?”

A standard interview question to which the answer seems logical. After all, you are interested in the position and the employer is looking for a new employee. 

But precisely because the answer seems so logical, the question is underestimated by many applicants.

Answers like “Because I want to make money” or “Because I need a job” are not uncommon. A missed opportunity, because with such statements you do not distinguish yourself and you do not impress the employer.

Reverse the roles. Why would you, as an employer, ask this question to an applicant?

Why is the question being asked?

The question is asked for two reasons. Firstly, with this question, the employer can check whether you have prepared yourself properly. Do you know what you’re talking about? Are you familiar with the products and services? Do you know which characteristics are important for the organization?

In addition, based on your answer, the employer can determine whether you are genuinely interested in the position and the company. The answer says a lot about the motivation you have to work for the company.

In 2 steps to a unique answer

The question “Why do you want to work here?” suggests that you as an applicant must describe the added value of the company (what the advantages are for you). Although it is always nice to receive compliments, it is ultimately of no use to the employer.

The trick is to answer in such a way that you can ultimately show your added value for the company. You can do this by involving your personal motivations in the answer.

A unique answer therefore consists of the following parts:

  • Step 1: discussing your personal motivations (intrinsic motivation).
  • Step 2: linking your personal motivations to (relevant) characteristics of the company.

Infinitely many possible answers.

Both people and companies are unique. Everyone has their own personal motivations and every company has its own characteristics. By combining these two, you can come up with a unique answer for every situation.

Step 1: Personal motivations

What drives you? Why are you applying for this position? Where do you get energy from? What is your passion? What are your ambitions? And what makes your blood flow faster?

Try to get a clear picture of your personal motivations by answering these questions. Distinguish between factors that motivate you extrinsically or intrinsically. Salary and bonuses are examples of extrinsic motivation. Passion, recognition and self-fulfillment are examples of intrinsic motivation.

To give a strong answer to the question “Why do you want to work here?”, it is advisable to focus on the factors that intrinsically motivate you.

Intrinsic motivation translates directly into an advantage for the employer. It leads to high levels of productivity, commitment, dedication and job satisfaction. It is therefore the ideal way to make an impression during the job interview.

Step 2: The link with relevant characteristics

Once you know what your personal motivations are, the task is to link these to a number of characteristics of the organization. Think of products, services, processes, corporate cultures or visions.

In order to formulate a strong answer, you need to research the company. Visit the company website and use Social Media to get to know the company from the inside.

Focus on unique features

During your research, try to focus on unique characteristics of the company. Such characteristics are the building blocks of the organization. Employees take pride in them and use  them to propagate the company’s vision.

Make a top 5 of distinguishing characteristics that contribute significantly to the success of the organization. Pick two or three that are important to you and then describe how the characteristics contribute to following your personal motivations.

A couple of examples to help you on your way.

Example: creative person – open company culture

Creative thinking and innovative acting are my two strongest competencies. From an early age I have had the urge to think and act outside the box. At my previous employer, this urge led to an innovative improvement of the production process (production increase of 20% against cost increase of 5%).

To do justice to my two strongest competencies, I need space. The open corporate culture that prevails in your organization provides the freedom and motivation I need to come up with creative solutions for complex issues.

Example: seller – unique product

The combination of helpfulness and customer focus ensures that I get a lot of energy from adequately helping people with a product that I fully support (product X). Just the idea of being able to sell product X with feature A and feature B makes my heart beat faster!

A unique answer

A unique answer to the question “Why do you want to work here” starts with yourself. Map out your personal motivations and look for what intrinsically motivates you. Then link your motivations to the characteristics of the company and leave an unforgettable impression!

Useful links:

Resume Writing
Cover Letters
Résumé Questionnaire
Job Search

Written by Bob Hubner