So, you’ve got a graduate job interview coming up, and you want to know how to properly answer the dreaded question: “Why do you want to work here?” It’s almost as bad as “What’s your biggest weakness?” but luckily we’ve already covered that.
First of all, let’s start with some honest, but unprofessional reasons why you really want the job.
- I’m skint / I need to pay rent
- I don’t want to move back to my parents’
- I want a job / I’m bored
Now the best way to actually answer this question is to tap into what they — the interviewer – wants to hear. You’re not lying or cheating, you’re just preparing a well-researched and thought-out answer, and presenting yourself in the best possible way.
So what do they want to hear, or know about you and your preparation? Lizzi Hart of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau runs through what an interviewer might want to hear in your answer to “Why do you want to work here?”, and how to capitalise on these wants within your perfect reply.
Companies want to be flattered, so take the time to do your homework, and recycle your newly found knowledge into why you want to work for them. Check their social media accounts, look for their name in the news, research their clients, look up their recent awards and read through their company blog or news section. Stalk the CEO, and checked out the hiring manager's LinkedIn profile.
What to mention:
Now, what aspects of the company can you pick out that interest you? What makes them attractive, and can you flatter them more by drawing upon these? Are there any parallels you can draw between this company, and companies you've worked for in the past? Do you hold the same values? Is the location desirable? What type of people work there?
If there are undesirable aspects of the company, how can you turn these into a positive? i.e. 'I'm guessing some may find this industry boring or uninteresting, but I'm well-suited to this because…' and 'I was very excited to see that you recently won XX Customer Service Award, which I find incredibly admirable. My 3 years in retail have taught me the true value of excellent customer service, and I believe I would be a valuable asset to the company because of this.'
You should have an answer, or explanation, ready for each of the requirements and responsibilities (why you're suitable, or why you believe you'd do well despite lacking experience), all backed up with evidence. The employer wants to know that you are set on this specific role, and not just the company.
They need to see you oozing passion or interest for the particular type of role, backed up with genuine reasons why it interests you, or it will be interesting to you. Interviewers don't want to waste their time on candidates who don't understand the job they're applying for.
What to mention:
Your answer should include the aspects of the role that you'll enjoy, be suitable for, and/or have experience in. All of these must be backed up with evidence i.e. 'I spent 2 years working part-time for an online zine using WordPress, and an opportunity like this will allow me to build upon my existing content management system (CMS) skills, but within a commercial environment.'
What sort of person works within this industry? What would a company expect their motivation to be? Research, comb through the job description, and ask others. If within the creative industry, it might be to have your work used on large-scale projects; if within IT consultancy, the chance to liaise with top-end clients, or be promoted; if within sales, the opportunity to make money. Think about the sort of person they want, and how you fit that bill.
What to mention:
How you would fit into the industry, how your personality aligns with the nature of the job, your previous experiences that prove this, and what your motivations and goals are. i.e. 'I love to learn, and continually self-improve, as shown by my diverse portfolio. It's this reason that your software development role will suit me perfectly, because I will be exposed to Python and C# , which I have always been curious about.'
But how will they tell? It might be the way you answer their questions, how well you answer, how well you listen, your communication style and many other things. Essentially, they're using the few occasions in which you both meet to assess the sort of person you are, and whether you'll fit in with the rest of the company and/or office.
What to mention:
Why you will fit the company culture (but you need to know what this is, and it's not always obvious). Mention the people you like to work with (if applicable to who works at the company) or people you haven't worked with, and that you would like a challenge in order to improve your people skills, for example. More importantly, just be nice, friendly, and above all, yourself.
As a fresh graduate, it's likely you'll be younger, or of a similar age to the entry level staff within the organisation. Being young(er) often means you've had less experience of life, and you, therefore, have more reason to be enthusiastic -- right?
In this vein, interviewers will be expecting someone with energy; someone who is excited by the prospect of interviewing, and hopefully working for the company. This isn't about what you say, but how you say it: avoid monotony by smiling whilst talking, as you are more likely to speak in a positive manner.
Deep down they know you probably want a job for money, but they still want you to be interested in the job and company -- they don't want you to just leave, meaning they have to start from scratch. Yet, interviewers can pick up on dishonesty and fakery, so if your heart isn't in it, don't bother trying to lie your way into a job you don't want. You can also tell if someone has stolen an answer of the internet, especially as an interviewer who is well-versed in candidate answers. Take inspiration from articles like these, but steer clear of too many buzzwords -- and definitely don't just recite other peoples' answers.
What to mention:
If you think they have any questions or reservations about you, your history, or your abilities -- mention it. Confront their reservation, then explain how or why you'll overcome this objection. i.e. 'I realise that I only have retail work experience, but I believe that my excellent people skills - one of the most important aspects for working within a team and office - will help me to succeed within this industry and role.'
In summary, your perfect answer to 'Why do you want to work here?' should mention:
- Why the company appeals to you, and your reasoning.
- Why the role appeals to you, and why you can do the job.
- How and why the role aligns with your career goals and motivations.
- Why you'll fit in with the existing colleagues.
- Why their initial reservations won't actually hold you back.
And remember: Be concise, be enthusiastic, and be honest.
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