At some point during a job interview, you may find yourself being asked some version of the question, “Why do you want to work here?” Hopefully you’ve thought about that long before it gets asked of you and you’re on the spot winging it.
I ask the same question to some people I’m working with who have brought me a posting. Not being the employer or the interviewer, I tend to get an honest answer which depending on the person, sometimes is simply, “Because it’s a job.”
Other times the answer is because the job matches up well with what the person is capable of doing and the answer is, “Because I know I could do that job.”
What I find missing most of the time is any reference to the fact that the person would be a good fit for the organization. In other words, yes the person could do the job perhaps, but they could probably do the job for any other number of employers, so why this one? Most often, they are applying only because there is a posting, and not much research if any has really gone into the employer.
And why is this important? Well there is a very good chance that once the job has been secured, a shift in thinking occurs and a problem crops up. You see some job seekers are focused primarily on gaining employment again quickly. Because the main objective is to get a job, any job doing what they’ve done is acceptable. Once the job is obtained, the person starts actually working in the company and starts to think not so much about getting a job anymore, but turns to the atmosphere of the place, the people they interact with, the supervision style of the boss they answer to, and things like the commute, working conditions etc. Without paying much attention to the organization prior to applying, a person can quickly realize they are once again in a bad fit, and either quit shortly or be let go during probation.
Returning to the question posed, what the job interviewer is probing for with this question is your motivation for applying. Do you know much about the organization other than what anyone with even a basic understanding would know or did you really do your homework and find out a few things? If you took the trouble to do some research and still feel the company and you match up well together, you’re likely to hang around if you get the job and are performing well.
But what if you were entirely honest? You know, shared the REAL reasons for wanting to work for the company. Maybe you don’t care who you work for, you just want to put in your two years until you retire. Or you know they pay well and have benefits. It’s close to your home or the hours suit your schedule. Should you say these things? You could in some situations and should refrain from doing so by all means in other situations. Well that’s not very helpful is it? I mean when is it okay to do so?
If for example the job you were applying for was a contract job with a 1 year or 18 month term, you could safely add to a strong reply that you are looking at a commitment of that length because it fits with your retirement plans. In other words, you and the employer know going in that you both agree on the length of your employment. But employer’s aren’t there for charity, and you’ll still need to have a strong application and be qualified on all accounts.
It may without having done any research, be similarly suicidal to say you only want to work for a year or two until you retire if the job is not a contract but is an ongoing position. An interviewer isn’t likely to look forward to having to hire someone new all over again in a year or two, and so your honest disclosure may remove you from further consideration. How do you know the difference between the two situations of long-term and contract? Do your homework, read the full posting, network etc.
The culture of an organization and their values isn’t something you’ll likely find in the posting. They may say something like, “If you value collaboration, teamwork and are deadline-driven, come work for us.” Well that’s a start, but don’t stop there. Dig deeper by paying the company a visit if possible, listen and watch for them in the news. Are they expanding, down-sizing, is their lease coming up for renewal and if so what are their plans? Sometimes news about a company or the industry they are in can give you clues about long-term stability and trends that are going to influence them in the future.
While it may be honest of you, it’s generally not advisable to tell an interviewer that you don’t really care where you work as long as you are working somewhere. That kind of honesty discloses a clear lack of future loyalty and you may well leave for some other organization at any time.
Whether it’s because of the way they treat their employees, their good reputation, their leadership in the field, their plans for expansion; do you homework and know why that company is the best match for you personally. Then you can deliver your answer with confidence.