Most job seekers hate this question. They think it’s meaningless and that the answer should be obvious — “I’m here because the skills and experience I outlined on my resume match your needs.” “I need a job, you posted a job.”
Fair enough. But there is a twist —
A good answer focuses on why here and not on why you. Sure, explaining your genuine motivation to join is more than welcome. But it’s more important to tell them how they can benefit from your impact.
If you’re here just for a one-minute recap on how to answer “Why do you want to work here,” here it is:
- The interviewers want to check if you’re looking to get this particular job or just a job.
- Don’t mention things like benefits, the salary, vacation policies, a great commute, or your personal circumstances as your main motivations for applying. Instead, explain why the company is a good fit for your career goals, why the role interests you, and how your skills and experience can contribute to their objectives.
- To make your answer as specific as possible, look for company information in the job ad, their website, social pages, or podcasts. For a full picture, check their reputation on Reddit or Glassdoor.
- The “3 Whys” is a simple formula that can help you structure your answer: why this company, why this position, why me.
In case you want to go more in-depth, here’s what you’ll learn in this article*:
- Four reasons why most interviewers still ask this question
- Five tips on how to answer “Why do you want to work here”
- Common mistakes to avoid
- Sample answers for different seniority levels and positions
*Everything in this guide has been vetted by top career coaches and 20+ hiring managers and recruiters. We’d like to thank Tom, Chris, John, Lyto, Laia, Milosz, and everyone else who shared their expertise with us at Big Interview!
Want to get an offer after every interview? Our interview preparation tool will guide you through all the questions you can expect, let you record and analyze your answers, and provide instant AI feedback. You’ll know exactly what to improve to turn your next interview into a job.
Why Do They Ask “Why Do You Want to Work Here?” (And Why They Sometimes Don’t)
- The interviewers ask this question to check if you “did your homework” — if you’re looking for jobs indiscriminately or if you’re truly interested in working at this particular company.
- Ideally, the company will take into consideration your career goals and, in time, be able to offer you career development opportunities and promotions. That’s why the interviewer is looking to see how your goals match what they can offer.
- They are looking to minimize the onboarding and training period. To get you up to speed asap, they’re checking how your existing skills match the requirements.
Although it sounds lazy and vanilla, “Why do you want to work for us” is commonly asked because it gives interviewers loads of information about your motivation and career goals.
Here are the top reasons why they ask it.
To see if you’ve done your homework
One thing that interviewers want to make sure is whether you’re truly interested in their company and the position, or if you’re just blasting out applications.
They don’t want to hire someone who’s only mildly interested or who’s looking for a temporary gig until something more interesting comes along.
Here’s what Tom, one of the hiring managers we interviewed, said:
I always ask this question. For me, the main thing it uncovers is whether the candidate has done their homework about the company. Our business is pretty unique, and I want to work with people who are enthusiastic about it.
To see how your career goals align with the company
They want you to be happy at this job. And one way to make sure of that is to check if your long-term career plans align with what they can realistically offer you.
Here’s what Lyto, a Talent Acquisition Expert, had to say:
My philosophy is that you hire to retain, so when I ask “Why do you want to work with us”, I’m looking to learn what the candidate would like long-term. It’s similar to “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” — I want to know if their ideal career path is something that matches our growth opportunities.
To see if the position is a good fit for your skills
The interviewers looked at your key technical and soft skills on your resume or LinkedIn profile. This question is a way to get more information and see how much your skills match the exact requirements of the role.
Jeff, a Chief Revenue Officer in a tech company, says:
It’s important to ensure there’s an overlap in skills we’re looking for and existing skills the candidate has. In Sales, if you know Salesforce, you’ll master HubSpot sooner than the person who’s never used similar CRMs. But it’s also good if there’s a bit of a mismatch there — if I have a candidate who’s never worked with proposal and quote software but has done AI automations and integrations before, that’s great. We’ll get innovation and they can certainly learn how to handle quotes.
To understand your genuine motivation
A general rule is that you shouldn’t list salary and benefits as the main reasons you’re looking to join a particular company.
This is because it can give the impression you’re primarily interested in what you can gain from the company rather than what you can contribute. Employers would rather hire someone who’s genuinely interested in the role and the company. If you lead with salary and benefits, it might look like you’re more interested in the financial aspect of the job rather than doing the actual work.
Of course, interviewers know these factors are important, but most of them would still prefer hearing about other motivators like:
- Alignment of your personal values with the company values
- Wanting to work for a company that has a great reputation or is an industry leader
- Wanting to work for a trailblazer company in an innovative environment
- Doing impactful work and making a difference
- Product or service appreciation
- Cultural diversity and inclusivity
John, another subject-matter expert, explained:
The best green flags I saw were those who could genuinely answer with excitement about the organization, its people, the culture, or our clients. They could give specific examples: “Oh, I love how you are working with X. I’m passionate about solving the health inequality crisis. I volunteer on the weekends to further this cause.”
Our own chief coach, Pamela Skillings, said:
I always ask some variation of this. I typically ask a broader variation, “Why are you interested in this opportunity?” My goal is to find out how interested they are in the role, including the day-to-day work, the company, and the career path. I’m hoping to hear a thoughtful answer that shows they read the job description, did a bit of research on the company. I also want to try to determine how the position fits with their needs, interests, and values.
That’s because the right hire isn’t just about who has the ability to do the job. You also need someone who would feel engaged and satisfied in the role. Engaged employees are better performers and engaged employees are less likely to quit abruptly for something they like better.
💡Pro tip: There are interviewers that are equally tired of this question. One of the experts who helped write this guide said: “I hate this question. It’s useless and irrelevant. The biggest problem is everyone says the same thing — your company values align with whatever I hold dear, and this position is a perfect fit for my career aspirations. That’s why I usually frame the question differently, for instance: What part of our company interests you and why? What kinds of projects would you be most excited to work with us on?”
How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
First off, be on the lookout for other forms of the question, like:
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why are you interested in this position?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why are you applying for this position?
- Why do you want to join this company?
To answer “Why do you want to work here”:
- Research the company, the role, and the industry.
- Explain why this particular company is a good fit for your career goals.
- Mention why the role interests you, show you did your research, and be specific in your answer.
- Tell them how your skills and experience can contribute to their objectives.
- Be genuine about your motivation to join, don’t just try to say what feels “right.”
Research the company, the role, and the industry
This helps you answer the “Why this company” part of the question you’ll need to address.
There are three steps to win them over:
First, make sure to know something about the company’s vision and mission, values, history, and the latest events. You can find this on the company website (check the website footer and pages like About Us, Company, or News).
Next, check their social media profiles, see the employees, team members, the dress code, tone, communication style, and overall vibe. This will help to tailor your own messaging and presentation in the interview.
Then check their product or service. Do you understand what they do? Is it something you would enjoy working on? If it doesn’t align with your values and opinions, you probably wouldn’t enjoy working there.
I once applied for a marketing role in a company that makes time-tracking and screen monitoring software. But I then remembered that I don’t believe remote workers should be monitored in that way. There was no way I would be able to market this product and feel good about myself, so I declined the interview.
Here’s what Chris, a CEO we interviewed, had to say about this:
I look for well-thought-out answers that show people understand our company. I also appreciate it when candidates can convey their value proposition or unique skills that would make a difference, but that’s not a must. Showing me that you even understand what our company does is a good starting point.
And Pamela Skillings, Co-founder & Senior Career Coach at Big Interview, answered:
I want indicators that they read the job description and thought a bit about how they’re a fit for the job, maybe did a little research on the company as well. These all show interest as well as professionalism. It’s a good sign if someone comes to a meeting prepared.
Explain why this company is a good fit for your career goals
Think about where you see your career going and how this role fits into it.
Here’s an example answer John remembers to this day:
You have made some of the largest impacts in the financial services sector. My passion is about technology and transforming underrepresented people’s interaction with banks. I believe I have a unique skill set that would complement your work in that space and would be a great fit for that team.
Mention why the role interests you
This helps you address “Why this role.” To answer, think back to the job description and what about the role seemed exciting or a good next step for you.
Think about what made you apply in the first place. It can be the industry they operate in, company reputation and values, or perhaps you just enjoy certain work environments more (think startups over Fortune 100 corporations). Whatever it is, make sure to bring it up in your answer.
Here’s an answer Tom remembers:
One memorable answer I received stuck with me because it was deeply personal. The candidate had saved for years to buy a Land Rover Defender for himself. He told me he understood how much certain people care about their cars, he was one of them, and he wanted a job where he could resonate with customers on that level.
Tell them how you can contribute
Remember, interviewers love hearing you’re excited to contribute to the company’s growth and results. They want to know “Why you.”
The key is to describe how you can see yourself succeeding in the role, given your skills and experience. Talk about how you’ve accomplished a goal they are trying to reach, or how you would go about tackling one of the responsibilities mentioned in the job description.
One of the hiring managers we spoke to, Laia, agrees:
A big “green flag” for me is when a candidate talks about how they can contribute to our team. If they speak about specific strategies or ideas they have for our marketing or sales processes, that’s awesome (even if the strategies aren’t really viable, it shows they’re proactive).
Be genuine about your motivation to join
This is one of the top reasons people hate this question, but there is a natural way to go about it.
To answer well, explain why you would enjoy the responsibilities of the role and spice it up with your personal passion for the employer’s products, services, or mission.
Keep in mind, they don’t want you to lie. If you love working for a company that’s really organized, and you can tell that this company has many detailed processes set up, by all means talk about that.
Anything that makes you more likely to accept this offer over another.
Here’s a great example from John:
I played baseball in college, and I’ve always loved winning. I have followed your company for the last few years, and you’re winning more than anyone else in the space. I want to be a part of the team.
And take a look at this other example by Milosz:
I always ask this question and I look for one thing and one thing only — the truth. If I hear “I need a better-paid job and I want to stop working at a company that undervalues me,” I’m much more likely to hire that person over the one who goes “I’ve been a fan of your company for years (meaning: I randomly found an opening on LinkedIn).
I think people dislike this question because they feel they need to say something better than the truth. This is their exact problem.
💡Pro tip: The interviewers can tell if you’re faking your passion for the role and the company. Some candidates say they dislike the “Why do you want to work for us” question because they think the interviewer wants them to rave about why the company is amazing. In fact, that’s rarely the case. You don’t have to quote their yearly revenue or stock price data, just show you have some genuine interest in the opportunity.
“Why Do You Want to Work Here” Best Answers
Let’s put all this theory into practice. Below are some sample answers vetted by career experts.
Sample “why do you want to work here?” answer for an entry-level candidate
Interviewer: Why do you want to work here?
Candidate: In college, I discovered my passion for transferring knowledge to other people. Naturally, the education industry attracted me the most. So when I saw that your organization kick-started this new project on introducing French as a second language workshops in high schools, I knew I had to apply. My MA in Roman Languages is a fitting background; I know the ins and outs of the linguistic aspect, but I’m also skilled in curriculum creation and planning techniques. I already have several ideas I’d love to implement.
Why we love it: The candidate is a fresh grad without sufficient work experience. That’s why they mostly focused on the organization, the industry it operates in, and the new project they’re rolling out. It shows that the candidate did the research and has very specific ideas in mind. Additionally, they briefly mention their broad skills (language + planning), which hints at why they’d be successful in this role. For bonus points, candidates with no experience can mention relevant coursework or projects, thesis topics, volunteer work, and similar.
Sample “why do you want to work here?” answer for a mid-level candidate
Interviewer: Why are you interested in this position?
Candidate: I really want to add to a team that already has good experience with content creation, and I can see from your resources page that you do. I also dug around and noticed there’s a lot of unused material that can be repurposed for social media — it would surely grant more followers and impressions. So with my writing, SEO, and distribution knowledge, I could contribute from day 1. Additionally, there are a lot of experts in your team that I could continue learning from. I’m sure our collaboration would be fruitful in the years to come.
Why we like it: The candidate did their homework and is acquainted with what’s going on in the company they applied for. They pitched an idea with specific outcomes in mind and emphasized the fact that day can contribute from the beginning (and thus save time and money on training). Additionally, they’re not seniors yet, so there’s room for improvement, and the candidate is willing to jump right in and displays the right attitude. There are also some hints that they are looking to settle in a company and won’t change the job too quickly.
Sample “why do you want to work here?” answer for a senior candidate
Interviewer: Why do you want this job?
Why we like it: The candidate combined their admiration for the company with their track record and specific skills they possess (a huge sign that they could contribute immensely to the new team and company). They also mentioned parts of their personality that could indicate they’d be a good culture fit. It’s music to any hiring manager’s ears.
Bonus: Real-Life “Why Do You Want to Work Here Answers” That Landed Jobs
My favorite answer was given by a candidate who was applying for the role of Chief Compliance Officer at an investment bank. He said, “Well, I never remember telling my mom when I was a kid: ‘I want to be a Chief Compliance Officer when I grow up.’ But I’ve truly gained a passion for working in regulation and compliance, and your opening just ticks all the boxes for me
— Nate Nead
One candidate said she wanted to work with us because she was allergic to “boring companies” and we seemed like “the perfect cure.”
— Laia Quintana
Maybe not the best, but the most memorable answer I ever got was “I just do.” This person has been working for me for 3 years now.
— Milosz Krasinski
An answer that stuck with me was along these lines: “My friend applied for this job and told me she loved the recruitment process and your company culture. She didn’t get the job in the end, so I wanted to see how I’d do.” Of course, the candidate later talked about other reasons for wanting to join the company, and we ended up hiring her not SOLELY because of how blunt her initial answer was — but at least it was 100% believable. And all those examples really show that you don’t need to sweat over this question. Just tell the truth. You want to join the company for some reason, just state that reason and you’ll be good. No need to try and tell them what you think they want to hear.
— Michael Tomaszewski
Why Do You Want to Work Here: Popular Opinion vs. Expert Advice
Is going through online forums in search of the interview and career advice a good idea?
Our two experts, Pamela Skillings, a Career Coach with 15+ years of experience, and Michael Tomaszewski, a Certified Professional Resume Writer, share their thoughts on popular and heavily upvoted pieces of advice we found on Quora and Reddit.
You’re supposed to have tailored yourself to this position. Do some research on the company. You’re not lying in an interview, just choosing the right things to say that are factual about yourself. You probably know this already, but here’s what not to say:
“For the money.”
“Because y’all are hiring.”
“I can make a great contribution here.”
You want to be a bit selfish. Match some of your previous accomplishments to what the company is asking for in the position you applied to. Talk about the company’s history and how you like what they do. How you yourself have benefitted from the company, at all (e.g. if you were applying to Google). Obviously this stuff can’t be worded lazily in your answer, but the rest is up to you.
Career expert comments:
This answer pretty much sums it up. Yes, you should focus on the company and the position, but the crucial part of your answer needs to be tailored and needs to highlight what makes you qualified for the role. I often hear candidates complaining that they are expected to lie to look good in the eyes of the interviewer. That’s not true. There’s a difference between lying and strategically choosing which information to provide. For example, irrelevant work experiences or bad manager experiences should have no place in your answer. But a successful group project, even though it’s not entirely your success (others contributed), should definitely be mentioned. The key is to stay 100% honest, give credit where credit is due, and flaunt your best work.
In my experience, eight out of every ten candidates answer this question with “because I want to learn.” This, however, is a bad answer. It hardly ever strikes a chord with the interviewer.
You must know that a corporation is not an educational institute which is onboarding people to come in and learn. It is a business organization. And you are being interviewed to assess if you can contribute to creation of value for the enterprise. That’s what should be the reason for your joining. Of course, if in that process you learn a thing or two, as one inevitably does, that’s fine. But that can never be your prime reason for joining. The reason that you are joining the organization must be completely aligned with the reason that they are hiring you for the organization.
The only exception, of course, is when the interview is for admission to a college or university. Where learning as a goal is perfectly right.
Career expert comments:
It might seem harsh, but it’s true. Companies prefer to know what’s in it for them (how you can contribute), not what’s in it for you (what you can learn). As Ashish said, you’ll inevitably learn new things in a new position, and it’s ok to mention that, but it shouldn’t be the core of your answer. Your primary reason needs to be your skills, how they align with the role, and how you can use them to contribute to the company. Then, you can mention something about the company and its mission or values, and learning opportunities for you.
Even if you don’t have that much experience (if you’re a recent graduate, still a student, or changing careers), you can still craft a decent answer by focusing on your transferable skills and how you can use them. And you can always fall back on matching the similarities between the role and your formal education, courses you took, internships you completed, volunteering experiences, and personal projects.
Finally, certain skills, like problem-solving, communication, or analytical skills, are highly appreciated in pretty much every industry and every role. If you’re really stuck, think about how you could use these skills in the role you’re interviewing for.
Replying to a thread called “How do you answer Why do you want to work here”, djgizmo on Reddit said:
Depends on how soon in the interview process they ask this question. If they ask this [during the first interview], I reply “I haven’t decided if I wanted to work here or not. This opportunity/role is interesting to me because X, Y, Z. Once I have all the information, and an offer is made, I’ll decide at that time.”
Career expert comments:
This one is tricky! We always say that interviewing is a two-way street so this kind of answer is legit. It shows the candidate’s honesty and transparency, as well as that they’re methodical and thorough in their decision-making process. Plus, it’s normal to be hesitant if you don’t have all the relevant information. However! This kind of answer can raise concerns with many interviewers because the candidate doesn’t seem enthusiastic about joining the company. If you really need a job ASAP, it might ruin your chances. So if you’re unsure, you can say it, but find a positive angle to reassure the interviewers. Something like this would work:
I’m genuinely interested in the possibility of joining this company because it caught my attention with X, Y, and Z. This aligns with my experience/skills/career goals and I believe I could be a great fit. But to see if we’re the right fit for each other, I need to learn more about your organization. Could you please tell me more about [what you need to know to help you make the decision]?
By framing your answer like this, you’ll convey more interest and enthusiasm about the company, which will positively affect the interviewer.
Redditor u/space_music suggests turning the tables on the interviewer:
I always ask: “Why are you looking to fill this position?” I know it’s snarky and might not get you the job haha, but it is a legitimate question someone should ask.
Career expert comments:
Wrong on so many levels! The only thing I agree with is that you should ask this question (at the end of your interview) and that this response is a bold move. But this isn’t necessarily always a good idea. First of all, you’ll come across as evasive and defensive. Instead of seizing the opportunity to show you did your homework and understand why you would be a valuable addition to the company, you’re practically refusing to answer this question. It’s not only disrespectful and rude but gives the interviewer the impression that you’re not really interested in joining the company. Don’t forget that interviewers evaluate candidates not just based on what they bring to the table in terms of hard skills but also how well they fit into the company culture. That’s why such a response can score you negative points. It misses the chance to initiate a constructive, meaningful discussion. I always advise candidates to address every question sincerely and then, perhaps later in the interview, pose thoughtful, well-structured questions about the role and the organization. This approach shows your keen interest in the position and your professionalism in handling the interview dialogue.
This perfectly matches the situation Pam described below:
One candidate said: “Well, I’m not sure yet if I want to work here. Tell me why I should.” There’s no need to play hard to get. That can really backfire, especially in a competitive job market. They don’t want to sound desperate, which is valid, but then play it too cool and seem like they could take or leave the job. As a hiring manager, I’d rather take a chance on someone slightly less qualified who is excited about the opportunity.
Deepthi’s approach is somewhat better:
I want to work for this company because I believe I can make a positive contribution to its success. I have the skills and experience necessary to help the company reach its goals, and I am passionate about the company’s mission and values. Additionally, I am excited by the potential for growth and development opportunities that this role offers.
Career expert comments:
While Deepthi’s answer touches on key elements, it lacks the specificity that truly distinguishes a standout candidate. The problem with saying, “I believe I can make a positive contribution to the success of your company,” is that it basically says nothing. Why does Deepthi think so? How do they support this claim? Similarly, “I have the skills and experience necessary” is equally vague, making the entire response no more than a platitude that doesn’t scratch the surface and align the candidate’s skills with job requirements. Instead of broadly stating that she has the necessary skills and experience, Deepthi could enhance their answer by citing specific examples of their past achievements that align with the company’s current goals. Quantifying these achievements can make a huge difference, too! This way, they would demonstrate the ability to contribute in a tangible, measurable way. Additionally, expressing passion for the company’s mission and values is good, but it becomes more convincing when a candidate can articulate what those values mean to them personally and how they’ve embodied similar principles in their past roles or projects. So, Deepthi’s response could greatly benefit from more personalized details and concrete examples.
How NOT to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
To ensure you don’t undermine all your efforts, here’s a list of things it’s better not to mention when answering “Why do you want to join our company”:
- I heard the salary is awesome.
- The benefits instantly caught my eye.
- Working remotely is what I’m after.
- My previous job was excruciating and [Company Name] seems like a nice place to work.
- This job seems like a great stepping stone to a higher position.
- I like the unlimited PTO policy.
- The truth is, I really need the job and I heard this was a good company.
- I think I’m qualified enough and I meet all your requirements.
- The idea of calling the shots appeals to me!
- It’s similar to the job I wanted badly, so I reckoned it would be a good fit.
Although you probably are partially in it for those reasons, you need to mention why this company is a good fit, how you’ll contribute, and what your main motivators are.
If everything else fails, use this technique to talk about your motivations.
Summary of the Key Points
- When answering “Why do you want to work here”, cover these three questions in your answer: why this company; why this position; why you’ll be good at it.
- Depending on the context and your experience, you can favor one element in comparison to the others.
- Visit the company website, social media, Glassdoor, etc. to get as much info as you can about the company and their reputation.
- Find out what exactly a particular position entails so that you can know if you’re the right fit for it (speak to a person in that position, check social media, Google, etc.).
- Avoid being dishonest in your answer.
- Avoid bitter and obvious answers (“I need the money, duh”) and add a dash of your honest personality to spark their curiosity.
- Avoid focusing on your needs; focus on what you bring to the table instead.
Need a hand? There are 3 ways we can help you:
- If you need a confidence boost, read about How to be confident (not arrogant) during a job interview.
- If you’re looking for a template for answering behavioral interview questions, read about Most common behavioral interview questions and answers.
- Learn how to turn more job interviews into job offers here. (Rated with 4.9/5 by 1,000,000 users).
How to answer “why did you choose this job?”
When answering this question, focus on specific aspects of the job that appeal to you. Show enthusiasm and knowledge about the company and its values. Explain how the job aligns with your skills, career goals, and personal interests.
What if my main motivation is that I’m out of work?
Avoid mentioning your unemployment as your main motivation. Instead, discuss the positive aspects of the company and the role. Highlight how it matches your skills and career goals, and express your excitement about the opportunities it presents to learn and grow.
How to answer “why do you want to work here?” if you have no experience?
Express your eagerness to learn and grow within the company. Talk about the company’s mission, culture, and values that resonate with your interests. Mention how your transferable skills and personal qualities can contribute to the team, and how the role aligns with your long-term career ambitions.
What if they ask “what can you bring to the company?”
Describe your unique skills and experiences that directly benefit the company. Emphasize your enthusiasm for the role, dedication to learning, and commitment to contributing to the team’s success. Share examples of accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to add value to the company in the new role.
What’s the worst mistake I can make when answering “why do you want to work here?”
The worst mistake is being generic or unprepared in your response. Avoid speaking solely about salary or personal benefits. Instead, research the company and role beforehand and provide a thoughtful, personalized answer that showcases your interest in the company’s values, mission, and your passion for contributing to its goals.