Adjusting to life after service in the military can be hard for veterans and their dependents. Navigating the job market and the processes it takes to become employed for a civilian company might be foreign an unknown.

This guide seeks to assist with one of the most complex and multi-faceted questions posed in the typical interview process.

If you’ve ever been in the market for a new job, you understand that getting an interview is only just the beginning of the process. Once you’re selected to meet and interview with your potential employer, your every word is critical.

One of the most common questions asked in a job interview is one of the most difficult to answer. You’ve probably been asked this question before:

How To Answer The Interview Question, “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

job interview

It can be intimidating. Imagine you’re sitting down in front of one, or more, strangers asking you to explain why you want to be a part of their organization.

It’s scary, but it’s vital that you know how to answer this question.

There are two categories of people who will interview for a job – those who will prepare for these difficult questions ahead of time and those who will not. The majority are those who do not prepare, and this guide is intended to make you a part of the minority category – the category most likely to receive a job offer.

To Answer This Question, You Need to Understand the Firm’s Intentions

Why would your interviewer want to have information on why you’d want to work there? To you it may seem clear, but to the interviewer the intentions may be more complex.

It is likely that your interviewer, or interviewing body, is looking to gather insight on how long you are likely to stay in a new position, whether or not you have the right mindset for the position, and to determine how you will fit in with the company’s culture.

By asking this question, the interviewer is actually asking two questions – why you want to work for the company, and why you want to fill the specific position they have open.

Keeping those questions in mind can help you more clearly gather your thoughts when the time for the interview comes.

In addition to gathering personal insight from you about your career goals and intentions, the hiring manager or committee is likely prying to see if you did proper research on the company before coming to the interview.

Knowing about the mission and values of the company and expressing your interest in being a part of them can certainly help you answer the question, “why do you want to work here,” in a more impressive way.

Crafting Your Response Ahead of Time is Vital

By understanding why you might be asked a question like, “Why do you want to work here,” You can add specific elements to your crafted response to check off all of the boxes of what the company is really looking for.

One good starting point for information on the company’s most current status and plans for the future is the news section you will likely find on the company’s website. Look for an article or press release with a recent date. Social media outlets are also a great starting point.

Once you know the company’s culture and values, and have an idea of what direction they hope to take the company in the future, you can prepare your statement of purpose for the open position.

You’re looking to find a way to clearly communicate your personal station, your goals, and to display how you would fit into the company.

You may even want to practice your response to this exact question out loud, maybe even time and time again. Practicing out loud is a great way to ensure you know what you’re going to say to the interviewer or interviewers ahead of time.

You might even find it helpful to record yourself and listen to the playback to make necessary adjustments. If you have a friend, partner, or spouse that can help you conduct a mock interview - that can be immensely helpful as well.

You can easily find lists with some of the most common interview questions on the internet. Want a hint? “Why do you want to work here,” is one of the most common.

Elements to Include, and What to Leave Out, When Answering the Question, “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

There are a few vital elements you will want to include in a response to a vital question like this one but, there are also a few topics you will want to avoid bringing up.

You will definitely want to display your well-researched knowledge of the company and its goals, like we mentioned before. In that same regard you will want to avoid mentioning any instance of how you’re looking forward to the job benefitting you. The individuals responsible for hiring do not want to know how they will benefit you.

This means avoiding statements about employee benefits, hearsay of company culture, and salary incentives - and instead opting to share your excitement about becoming a part of a larger system and working for the company’s mission. Attaching your interest in the job to employee benefits or pay can make you seem desperate and flakey.

When asked why you want to work for a particular company, another good practice is to know, and be able to relate to, details about the specific position you are applying for. On that note, be sure not to make it seem as if you are shopping the market for any job you may be qualified for – no matter how true that may be.

Make the interviewer or interviewing body believe that the position you are interviewing for is your ideal position at this point in time. Even if you have better prospects, you should clearly understand the duties that would potentially be expected of you and be able to express your ability to thoroughly fulfill them.

Regardless of your research of the company ahead of time, one of the ultimate mistakes that is commonly made when answering this interview question is crafting some over-the-top tale of your commitment to the company.

Do not blatantly lie or sensationalize your dedication to working for the company. You should simply genuinely connect the dots between your skills and abilities and the needs of the firm.

Be confident in yourself - but be honest.

Going the Extra Mile Could Make all the Difference

Truthfully, many candidates will not research the company ahead of time or plan ahead for important questions. Just by taking these simple steps, you will already be placing yourself at an advantage. It’s been shown that the interview can make or break a candidate, so you’re at an exaggerated advantage.

When in an interview you’re asked, “Why do you want to work here,” A prepared and intelligent response shows initiative and interest. Small details like bringing written questions or notes to the interview can go even further to show that you care.

If you’re asked if you have any questions, but recognize they have all already been answered, opt for a polite response of, “You already covered everything, thank you,” as opposed to simply denying that you have any questions about the position.

It also shows initiative to ask for a business card at the end of the interview if you were not initially given one.

Don’t Get Tripped Up by the Question, “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

Don’t let yourself get taken by surprise with this question at your next job interview. It is one of the most commonly asked interview questions, so failure to prepare ahead of time to answer is wasting an opportunity.

Recognize what the company is actually asking you when they ask this question, understand what they want to hear form their ideal candidate, and be able to deliver your response confidently and eloquently – that’s what properly answering this question comes down to.

Also, avoid “putting your foot in your mouth” by saying something self-sabotaging or something that will turn your potential employer away. As we mentioned, they aren’t asking about what you’re looking to gain – they’d rather you be able to explain how you will add to their firm.

Lastly, one of the most important benefits of being well prepared for a job interview, including tricky questions like, “Why do you want to work here,” is a selfish benefit – it gives you a sense of self-confidence that will certainly seem impressive.

Arthur Ashe, a three-time Grand Slam winner in tennis, is quoted as noting the importance of self-confidence. “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

You have the ability to create your own post-service life. Take advantage of the resources and information available to optimize your chances at advancing your career.

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