When we think of job interview questions, we typically think of things like “What are your strengths?”, “Tell us about your greatest accomplishment”, “What computer skills do you have”, “How would you calm an angry customer”, etc. All these questions have one thing in common – they focus on why the employer should want to hire you. So in your interview prep, you practice discussing your skills and experience and what you have to offer. But at least one interview question has a completely different focus; “Why do you want to work for this employer?” And if you haven’t done any prep work from this flipped perspective, this question may catch you off guard. Here are some common mistakes, along with a better option.
“Well, to be honest, I’m not super happy with where I am, and I’m looking for something better.”
How this hurts you: Firstly, it breaks the #1 unwritten rule of interviewing: Never go negative. Saying that you’re not happy where you are could be construed as you bad-mouthing the company you currently work for, which makes you look unprofessional and bitter. Secondly, this answer says nothing at all about the new company. You don’t seem to be enthusiastically running towards the new job; you seem to be merely running away from the old one. That’s going to make the employer think that you will be a lackluster employee.
“I’m really excited about working for your company because you offer the best healthcare benefits in the business, and you pay significantly more than my current job. Plus, you’re so close to my house, I could walk to work. Finally, I was excited by the possibility of working from home a few days a week.”
How this hurts you: Of course things like pay and benefits are super important to you, but the interview is not an appropriate time for you to bring this up. Answering in this way makes it seem like you only care about the money and perks, not about actually doing a good job or fitting in at the company. Employers ask this question because they want to gauge how committed you will be to the job and company. They prefer to hire people who are chasing a passion, not people who are chasing a paycheck. If you really only care about the money, then what’s to stop you from leaving them in 3 months to get more money elsewhere?
so how do you answer this question?
In a word: research. before you interview, look up the company online. Read through the company website in detail, but don’t stop there. Check social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. – for the company profile, posts, reviews, mentions, etc. You can also check the LinkedIn profiles of people who work for the company for more information. Use the EBRPL database Data Axle to get demographic information on the history and structure of the company. For large companies, read reviews on Glassdoor to get an insider perspective on working for this company. For local businesses, look for articles from local magazines and newspapers. In general, you’re looking for something specific and complimentary which you can say about the company.
“I was intrigued by this job opportunity because it matches my exact skillset, so I did some more research into your company. I saw that your Facebook page has hundreds of positive reviews from happy customers who say that you treat them like people, not just account numbers. I like the idea of being part of such a customer-focused workplace.”
“I’m excited about this job because working in healthcare is my calling; I truly want to help people. And when I looked up your organization, I saw that you have state-of-the-art medical technology which no other hospital in the state has. I believe you are on the forefront of medicine, and I want us to save lives together.”
“I could be an excellent office manager at any company, but I’m specifically interested in your organization because of its community outreach and charity programs. Giving back to the community is important to me, and your HeartReach program shows that you share those values.”
“I read the Better Baton Rouge Business Report’s article on your company, and I was really impressed by the meteoric growth in your customer base and brand awareness over the past 5 years. This company is clearly headed for success, and I want to be a part of that success.”
If you need any help preparing for a job interview, you may call 225-231-3733 to schedule a practice interview with one of our career specialists.
Written by Lynnette Lee