Answering the “Why Do You Want to Work Here?” Interview Question

Dana Guterman
Updated: July 9, 2023

After reading this article, you’ll:

  1. Understand the significance of the question “Why do you want to work here?” during an interview, and how a well-structured answer can portray your motivation, dedication, and long-term commitment to the prospective employer.
  2. Learn how to craft compelling answers to the question, by expressing enthusiasm about the company, demonstrating knowledge about the role, presenting your unique value proposition, and aligning the job to your long-term career goals. You’ll also have examples of good responses for different types of roles and companies.
  3. Be aware of common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid when responding to this question, ensuring that your answer remains focused, specific, and not self-serving. You’ll also be prepared for follow-up questions and understand how to tailor your response to different interviewers, whether they are recruiters, direct managers, or senior executives.

Nowadays, it’s not always enough to have an employer that wants to hire you. You have to want the job, too—and you have to prove it.

With the recent uptick in job-hopping, finding the perfect role is less about employer loyalty and more about self-care. As a result, employers are increasingly wary of applicants who just want to bolster their resume—and up their salary—before moving on to the next opportunity. So, how does an employer get ahead of this trend? They start during the interview, by asking, “Why do you want to work here?”

As an intern or an employee, your answer says a lot about you, your motivation, and your likely tenure with the company. In this guide, we’ll explore how to answer this common question and put your interviewer’s fears at ease. Here’s what we’ll cover:


The basics of a great response

Your main goal in answering, “Why do you want to work here?” is to reassure your interviewer. Remember: interviewers aren’t really asking about you; they’re asking about what you can do for them. Don’t give them any reason to doubt that you truly want to work at this specific company, in this exact role.

While enthusiasm is always important in an interview (particularly an internship interview), it’s essential here. Your response should demonstrate that this is a great fit in every way—so be prepared with multiple reasons why you want this job. With that in mind, here’s how to craft a winning answer:

  • Be enthusiastic about the company and role.
  • Demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable. To do this, share something unique you know about the company or an anecdote that encapsulates why this is your dream role.
  • Prove your value by explaining why your skills or experiences make you a perfect fit for the role.
  • Connect your response to your longer-term career goals, assuring them that you’re in this for the long haul.

“Why do you want to work here?” sample answers

So, how do you weave together a seamless response that properly demonstrates your zest for, knowledge of, and value to the company and job? Here are some examples for different types of companies and roles.

When I was seven years old, I saved my allowance for months, and then donated it all to the local animal shelter. I’ve always had a deep connection to animals, and your team at Good Boy Dog Rescue has succeeded in getting over 1,500 senior dogs adopted this year alone. Additionally, you offer free and low-cost spay/neuter services for low-income owners—which keeps those dogs out of shelters and in loving homes.

When I saw that you were hiring for a volunteer coordinator, I couldn’t wait to join an organization that aligns with my values and has such an enormous impact. I already recruit volunteers in my role as vice president of ABC University’s bimonthly farmer’s market, where I increased the number of volunteers by 16 percent compared to last year. Now that I’m graduating, I’m ready to bring that skill set to work full-time, as I build a career in nonprofit development. Supporting dogs and the wonderful people that want to give them a forever home would be such a gift.

This response checks all the boxes: it’s enthusiastic, informed, and experienced. Here’s one for an internship with a less mission-driven company.

I love programming, and I’m so excited to get hands-on experience as a software development intern with TechCo. But what first drew me to your company was the egalitarian culture, which you mentioned earlier. I also have a friend who interned here last summer, and she couldn’t stop talking about TechCo’s open, accessible environment. To be part of a company that values everyone’s ideas, where interns speak in the same meeting as the CEO—that’s inspiring. As someone who thrives in a collaborative environment and draws energy from other people’s ideas and perspectives, I know that I’ll be able to add value while learning a ton as your intern.

The candidate clearly loves the company and the job, and they’re good at what they do. But they also have a deeper cultural connection to the company, which is the type of thing employers look for. Here’s another example.

Most of the games I play on my phone entertain me for a week, or maybe a month, and then I move on to the next one. I downloaded your game, “Mountain Pass,” 15 months ago, and I still play it every day. I’ve checked your website every week for the past year, hoping that you’d be hiring a business intern, and now you’re looking for a sales intern. As someone who truly loves your product, I want to share that with the world. I’ve been a part-time sales associate at E-Co throughout my time in school, and I’ve been awarded “Salesperson of the Month” eight times—so I know I can do it. I also know you’re hiring for multiple full-time sales reps, and I’d love to continue to grow with you post-graduation.

By sharing their personal connection to the product, and then tying it to why it will make them a great fit for the role, this candidate makes a compelling case. They also end by telling the interviewer that they’d love to continue on with the company in a full-time capacity. Given that 70 percent of employers make a full-time offer to their interns, this assures the interviewer that they’re hiring both an intern and future employee.


What not to say

You don’t want to mess up this crucial question, so let’s look at some top mistakes to avoid.

  1. Being generic or vague. “It’s a great company with growth opportunities” can apply to any company—and it’s exactly what your interviewer doesn’t want to hear. Why is the company great? How will you grow? How will you add value? Your answer needs to be specific.
  2. Giving a self-serving response. The interviewer doesn’t care that this job would cut your commute in half or that this internship will help with your student loans.
  3. Implying that you’ll leave. It’s fine that you don’t see yourself spending 20 years with this company—but don’t express that in the interview. You don’t want to give the interviewer any reason to doubt your commitment.
  4. Lacking enthusiasm. Hopefully, you’re interviewing for a role that truly excites you. But if not, find a different opportunity or fake it ‘til you make it. If you act bored or apathetic, your interviewer isn’t going to be enthused about hiring you.

Tailoring Your Answer for Different Interviewers

The approach you take to answering “Why do you want to work here?” may need to be modified slightly depending on who’s conducting the interview. Here are some considerations for how to tailor your responses to various types of interviewers:

Recruiter: Recruiters are often the gatekeepers in the hiring process. They are looking for potential candidates who align well with the company’s mission and culture and who possess the necessary skills for the job. When responding to a recruiter, emphasize your understanding of the company’s core values, your excitement about its mission, and how your skills and experiences make you an ideal fit for the job role.

Sample Answer: “I’m really drawn to your company’s commitment to innovation and the way you continually push the boundaries of what’s possible in your industry. I believe my extensive background in product development and proven ability to work in fast-paced environments would make me an asset to your team.”

Direct Manager: Your potential manager is likely to be interested in your capabilities and how well you would fit into their team. They want to see that you’re capable of delivering results and that you can integrate smoothly into their existing workflow. Here, focus on the specifics of the role and your ability to perform it well. Also, express your enthusiasm for potentially working under their leadership.

Sample Answer: “I have been following your team’s work for some time now, and I’ve always admired the way you handle complex projects. I believe my experience in managing similar projects, coupled with my ability to quickly adapt and learn, would allow me to contribute effectively to your team.”

Senior Executive: If you’re speaking with a high-level executive, they will likely be interested in how you fit into the larger picture of the company’s strategic goals. In your response, articulate your understanding of the company’s strategic direction, discuss how you see yourself contributing to it, and express your interest in the company’s larger mission.

Sample Answer: “I’m excited by your company’s recent focus on sustainability and the strategic initiatives you’ve been implementing in this direction. I believe my expertise in sustainable supply chain management could make a significant contribution to these efforts. It’s truly motivating to imagine being part of a company that’s making such a substantial impact.”

Remember, regardless of who you’re talking to, authenticity is key. Interviewers, whether recruiters, managers, or executives, can often sense when a candidate is being insincere. Show genuine enthusiasm and interest in the role, the team, and the company’s mission. Tailoring your response not only shows that you’ve done your research, but also that you’re adaptable and understand the diverse perspectives within the company.

Follow-up Questions to Expect

Once you’ve answered the “Why do you want to work here?” question, it’s important to be prepared for potential follow-up questions. The interviewer may want to explore your answer in greater depth or examine other aspects of your interest and commitment to the company. Here are some typical follow-up questions you might encounter:

What do you know about our company culture? This question aims to evaluate whether you’ve researched the company’s work environment and values. It’s also a way to see if you’d be a good cultural fit.

What excites you about the industry? This probes your general interest in the field in which the company operates. Be prepared to discuss current trends or developments that have caught your attention.

What are the biggest challenges you anticipate if you get this job? This question checks your understanding of the role and your foresight in identifying potential obstacles. It also gives you a chance to discuss how you’d overcome these challenges.

What kind of work environment do you thrive in? This question helps interviewers assess whether you’d fit well within the company’s existing environment. Whether it’s a collaborative atmosphere or a more independent setting, your answer should reflect an understanding of the company’s work style.

How do you see this role contributing to your career goals? This question looks at your long-term plans and ambition. Here, you need to demonstrate that the job aligns with your career trajectory and growth.

What can you bring to our team that other candidates can’t? This question is an opportunity to showcase your unique skills and experiences. Make sure you highlight aspects that set you apart from other candidates and how these can benefit the company.

Remember, each of these follow-up questions offers an opportunity to further highlight your interest, knowledge, and suitability for the role. Keep your answers concise and focused, and wherever possible, tie back to the main themes of your response to the initial question: your desire to work at the company, your understanding of the role, and the value you can bring.

In other words: “Why do you want to work here?”

Employers ask this question in a variety of ways. Just remember that they’re always looking for proof that you want to work there, you’ve done your research, and you’ll add value. The interviewer might also ask:

  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Why did you apply to this position?
  • What drew you to this job?
  • Why this company?
  • Why are you the best candidate for this role?


Check out our other interview question articles. Learn how to answer: