How to answer “Why do you want to work for us?”

This should be easy shouldn’t it? Surely it’s easy to tell the employer why you are keen to work for them.  Yet in reality it can be difficult to pinpoint what exactly has attracted you to the employer – aside from their freebies at the careers fair!  It’s likely that you are applying to more than one employer, but in each application it has to sound as though you only want to work for them.  And how do you differentiate employers when they all look so similar?

Why do employers ask it? 

Interview QuestionsWhen you’re selecting applicants for job interviews, one of the things that really matters is whether the person really wants to work for you.  Recruitment is an expensive business, so every employer is hoping to recruit someone who will stay in the role for long enough for them to get a return on their investment.  Clearly if someone really wants the job, they’re more likely to work hard in it and flourish.  Because the employer hasn’t met you yet, they can’t tell if you will thrive in their environment, so they’re looking for you to tell them why you think you will enjoy working for them.

Benefits to you 

The good news is that this is a great opportunity to show the employer how much research you’ve done and to demonstrate that you know enough about them to believe you will succeed working for them.  It’s your chance to flatter them by saying how good they are at certain things, whilst still keeping the tone genuine so it doesn’t sound too schmaltzy.

So where do you begin?

How Do I Start?When targeting any employer you need a strategy of how you’re going to approach the application process.  If you are able to meet with staff from the company at a careers fair or an employer presentation, this is ideal.  Make a note of who you spoke to and note what they said about the company that resonates with what you’re looking for.  Of course you won’t always get the chance to meet the employer face to face.  Use Linked In to see if you can connect with alumni working for the employer so that you can ask them what it’s like to work there. In the application you can talk about what you have heard from staff that impressed you, naming individuals if appropriate.

Go through the company’s website thoroughly, noting things they say that differentiate them from their competitors and things that make your heart sing.  Sometimes it’s about the tone of how they write about themselves or a particular approach they take to their work.  Have they won any awards or been mentioned in the press?  If they have them, what are they saying to their clients about the way they will undertake their work that you like?

Think about yourself

What’s really important for you question handwritten by business woman on cartonWhat do you know are the essential criteria for you in any role you apply for?  Do you want lots of early responsibility or autonomy?  How do you feel about staff development and opportunities to go outside your comfort zone?  Do you want a small, friendly environment?  One that values diversity?  Is a clear progression pathway important or the chance to be out of the office a lot?  When researching employers you’ll be assessing them against your own criteria and then you need to articulate this in the application process.

Things to avoid

  • If what you say in this answer could apply to the employer’s competitors, it isn’t tight enough. You need to mention something that is unique to them.
  • Avoid any copying and pasting – your answer won’t sound convincing enough if you’re just tweaking a previous application answer.
  • Don’t copy your friend’s answer – employers can check for plagiarism and will not be impressed, as this brings your integrity firmly into question.
  • Try to ensure that the balance is right. It’s easy to tip into saying why you’re marvellous in this answer, but the focus here is quite definitely on why they are attractive to you.

Final advice…

Positive thinking factorsYour use of language in this question is crucial.  Be enthusiastic and use positive words to convince the employer of your motivation.  Once you’ve done a draft – get it checked, check it again and then press “send”.