How to answer the question: why do you want to work here?
Careers advice, Interview

How to answer the question: why do you want to work here?

“What made you apply to our company? How come you want to work with us?” In a job interview, some of the seemingly most simple and innocuous questions can be the trickiest to handle. Giving the right answer can make the difference between getting through the selection process or not. What you say will give the recruiter insights into your motivations for being interested in the position you applied for. Depending on how you answer, they will decide if you really are the person they’re looking for.

The first step is to find out as much as you can about the company you’re going to meet. Visit their website, learn about their corporate values, try to understand their core business even in general terms, and in general read all the information you can find online: this is a general rule of thumb for any kind of job interview, so the first golden rule is to do your homework on the company that has invited you in.

However, depending on the kind of company you are applying to, you’ll find there are three different approaches to use for coming up with a successful answer to the question. Let’s look at these three principles in detail.

Dreaming of the corporate world? Go beyond mere enthusiasm!

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: after sending out reams of CVs, a famous corporation has replied to your application and has arranged the interview you’ve been waiting for. But how can you best prepare for it? And how should you answer that daunting question – why us?

When you’re interviewing at a big company, your answer might simply be connected to the brand’s reputation and therefore the prestige of working for a famous and well-loved employer. In this case, honesty is the best policy.

If you really want to make an impression, however, don’t just leave it there. To stand out from the competition in the eyes of the HR team, go beyond the most obvious answer. Focus on details, adding in some specific information that you have found on the company’s website or social media, in the press or through other communication channels that you can easily find online.

A good strategy is usually to refer to some distinctive aspects of the company’s activities, which might make it particularly proud of its success – these might have to do with technology, innovation or communication.

if you can, highlight features that tie in with your area of interest and your skills. That will make you look even more impressive as you answer the question.


The SME that you’re less familiar with: do your research and be objective.

When you’ve applied to a smaller company that’s not so well known, you should do some in-depth research – not least to make sure that the position and the workplace you’re approaching is really what you’re looking for. Remember, a job interview helps both sides to ‘size each other up’, with the aim of understanding how mutually compatible they are for that position and setting. This means you also have to ask yourself the question, “Why should I choose you?”

If you like what you see, the first golden rule is to not be afraid to express your doubts or ask for further information. Any major queries that you are unable to answer through your background research should be raised in the interview, and this will show the recruiter that you are interested to learn more.

Then, once you have reached the classic question, “Why do you want to work with us?”, you must come up with a good answer that will satisfy your interviewer, focus on the position that you are applying to and on what career development opportunities it offers.

Indeed, one advantage of smaller companies is that usually, they offer you the chance to build up considerable experience across the board, as you will have visibility across all the processes and workflows throughout the company. What’s more, in a small or medium business, even a more junior member of staff immediately gets the chance to ‘make a difference’, so show them that you’re enthusiastic and willing to make a tangible contribution right from the start.

An entry-level position that will launch your career: the consulting firm or agency

When you’re applying to a services business that sells your work, projects and skills to its clients, you might find yourself in a ‘talent hothouse’. Career paths for some professions routinely include a stint in one of these companies, as a kind of ‘training ground’ where you can hone your skills.

As a rule, the pace of work is intensive. You’re often asked to stay late and do overtime, and it tends to be a highly competitive environment. That said, these businesses are usually places where you can build up a wealth of experience, and where interesting collaborations and often lifelong friendships begin. They have an international scope, so language skills are a must, as is flexibility – not just in terms of working hours, but for business trips and transfers too.

For companies like these, the recruitment process generally involves a group interview for the very first round; then a round of tasks or simulations to test your hard skills, and a final round with an individual interview. That’s when you’ll have to answer the dreaded question, “Why do you want to work here?”. If you’ve made it this far, show your hand and make it all about your career path: if you’re ambitious, self-confident and intent on having a thriving career, those are the reasons you should give. Your recruiter will appreciate your strength of character and determination and will see you as a candidate who can fit in well with that environment.


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