Although this is not a “core” question from hiring organizations, it’s asked enough times that you need to understand what is really being asked and how you might want to respond. Some questions look for how you answer in addition to what you say. “Tell me about yourself” is one of those direct questions. Other questions are more oblique. “Why do you want to work here?” is one of those oblique questions.
The real questions behind “Why do you want to work here?” come down to: Is this candidate looking for an interim job just to get out of a difficult situation? Are they really looking for a career opportunity to expand job experiences? Are their goals well matched with our organization or are they out for themselves only?
Another way to ask the same question is, “What are your short and long term goals?” The real question is the same: Are you for real or just a temporary employee? If the hiring agent senses that your intentions are incompatible with their objectives, the interview will be a short one.
So, what do you do to prepare to answer these questions?
First, a word of warning. It’s in your own best interest to make sure you’re compatible with the goals and needs of the organization, function and teammates. You may be able to fake an interview and appear to be a terrific candidate, but beware, as you’ll be found out in short time once you’re onboard. A good actor cannot act forever. With that in mind:
1. Collect a great deal of information. The better the information, the better your decisions. Research the organization, the history, and your potential managers. Google them. Volatile organizations or their managers will lead to a lack of continuity for you.
2. Demonstrate your knowledge about the industry, the competition, products/services, the issues that they face and the goals of the organization (though published reports)
3. Broadly share your career goals. If they can’t understand or help you on your way, why would you want to work there? Target a level or two above the open position, but make sure it’s reasonable. Talk about broadening out your functional skills, expanding your business exposure, or managing a larger organization
4. Find out what the short-term objectives of the job are, along with the longer-term goals. Make sure you’re prepared and well suited for those stated outcomes. You don’t want to inadvertently set yourself up to fail because you didn’t ask the right questions.
There’s usually a good rationale for all questions an interviewer will ask. You need to be responsive, positive and deliberate with your answers. You’re way ahead of all your competitors if you’re prepared beforehand to answer the question, “Why do you want to work here?”
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