Why do you want to work here? It’s a common interview question, but also one that can be challenging to answer, especially when you try to wing it. Not preparing a solid response to this question is risky because it could make all the difference in whether a potential employer extends a job offer to you — or not.

What not to say

Exactly how you should respond to the question of “Why do you want to work here?” depends on the job and the organization. Knowing how to formulate a meaningful response to suit most any interview situation begins with understanding what employers probably don’t want to hear. Some examples include:

  • “Honestly, I just need a job and this one looked interesting.” This does little to demonstrate a sincere interest in the role or company.
  • “I see this as a step to bigger and better things.”This happens to suggest that you already have one foot out the door before you’ve even been hired.

A more thoughtful approach

Think more about what you have to offer, and how you could make an impact than why getting the job would benefit you. Here are a few things to consider as you develop your response:

  • How can you help the company succeed? Read up on what’s happening with the company and its industry. Consider this landscape and think, “What knowledge and experience do I have that would be especially useful to this employer in this time of growth and/or change?”
  • What past career successes could you potentially repeat at this company?In previous jobs, how did you meet or exceed your employers’ expectations? What lessons have you learned that you could apply in the future to create value for the potential employer?

Roll out your response with a smooth lead-in

When you’re asked, “Why do you want to work here?” in an actual interview situation, you want to deliver your prepared answer in a way that sounds polished but natural. Consider using one of the following lead-ins as the inspiration for crafting your unique response:

  • “I feel my skills are well-suited to this position because … ”
  • “I believe I have the type of knowledge (or other skill) to succeed in this role and at the company because … ”
  • “I’m excited about this opportunity, as it would allow me to … ”

If you anticipate the question and take time to prepare an answer before the interview, you’ll avoid feeling flummoxed — and your chances of hitting the mark with a winning answer will rise.

Be on the lookout for other forms of the question, such as, “Why do you want to work with us?” and “Why did you apply for this position?” Combined, these are among the questions most commonly asked are when you interview for any job.

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