It’s a question that I’ve been asked in every single interview I’ve attended, without exception. It seems harmless enough, doesn’t it? Except when you realise that your answer must stand out from everyone else’s; and that the answers you have in mind are likely to be those that other candidates have also thought about, too. So, it’s a clever question; one that serves to weed out the original thinkers from the ‘me-toos’. Here are some tips to help you take your answers from blah to brilliant; they have worked well for me, so I hope they will serve you well, too.
1. Conduct detailed research on the company
I don’t mean a quick peek at the company website. Everyone else will be doing that. To truly impress, you’ll need to go the distance. Check out some of these other sources for additional information about the company:
- Press releases – for new product announcements, new directorships, new strategic directions
- Annual reports – for successes and challenges
- YouTube channels
- Published annual lists, for example: Top 15 Companies to Work For
TIP: Companies such as Glassdoor and TheJobCrowd will give you valuable insights into a company’s culture. You can then use the information to craft a good answer; for example, if a company describes itself as ‘innovative’ you can respond to the “why do you want to work here?” question with a response such as:
“You’re constantly looking for new ways to exceed your customers’ expectations. I love that.”
2. Talk about at least two of the following in your answer
The philosophy of the company
If you’re attracted to the philosophy or mission of the company, say so, but more importantly, say why, using insights from your research to craft a solid answer.
The market the company serves
Describe your understanding of the challenges the company’s target market faces and praise the value the company brings to that market.
The products and services of the company
Show your appreciation of the quality of the products and services of the company. You’ll probably get brownie points if you were able to refer to awards the company has won for its services, case studies that have been published or your own personal, positive experiences with the company’s products/services.
The culture of the company
Assuming the culture of the company fits your personality and way of working, talk about what you’ve learned about the company culture; in particular, why you believe it would be a great place to work. This could be the excellent career opportunities offered or the flat organisation structure. Do not, however, talk about the perks of the job. You’re supposed to be interested in the company and the job, not the perks!
TIP: Go into detail on a couple of points rather than reel off a shopping list of reasons why you want to work for the company – doing the latter will come across as rehearsed at best, superficial at worst.
3. Use your answer as an opportunity to sell your skills and experience
You will have heard it before: your interview is your personal sales pitch. This means that you’ll have to weave into every single answer you give reasons why the company should hire you. For example, continuing with the example of a company that describes itself as ‘innovative’, you could describe how a previous industry placement enabled you to think about innovative solutions to problems, and give examples. Explain why you believe this makes you such a good fit for the company.
If you are able to articulate the insights from you research into your answers, and reflect at the same time your relevant skills, attributes and experience, you’ll elevate your application from average to outstanding. Let me know how you get on.