One of the most common interview questions is, “Why do you want to work for this company?”
If it catches you off guard, you may hesitate, grow flustered and ramble, and leave the impression that you don’t really want to work for the company at all. Or you may say something like “because I need a job,” which is the wrong attitude from the interviewer’s standpoint. So be prepared in your next interview with one of these following best answers.
1. Praise something unique and attractive about the company.
Interviewers respond positively to enthusiasm about the job — after all, they are interviewing you because they are influencers in their company, which usually means they like it enough to have invested some time there. The easiest way to show your enthusiasm is to find a truly praiseworthy aspect of the company and praise it.
If you take this approach, you’ll need to dig beneath financial reports and news articles: complimenting quarterly earnings or a recent acquisition is a hard sell as something personally motivating to you (unless all you care about is money, which isn’t really an attractive virtue).
Find something specific enough to show you have done research — some unique aspect of the job for which you’re interviewing, a new product launch, a recent award, or even an industry segment they’ve grabbed.
[Read: How to Use a Job Description to Your Advantage]
2. Tell a growth story.
Start with how you heard about the company, why it became attractive to you, and how you hope to contribute. This is compelling first of all because it’s a narrative, and people respond better to stories than to facts. It makes you warm and sympathetic. It connects you to the interviewer by making your relationship with him/her subtly personal, but in a way totally appropriate from a professional standpoint. It will make your interviewer likes you personally — and between two equally qualified candidates, interviewers are likely to forward the one they like the most.
Just as with praising something about the company, make sure your story is specific enough that it could not apply to a similar company. “I like marketing, and you guys really do a lot of it!” is pretty vague. Referencing a particular commercial that affected you, or describing your affinity for a product specific to that company (and why you want to make/sell/service that product) puts you squarely on the same team as your interviewer.
Also, rehearse your story so it’s short and complete. You’ve got about two minutes of attention before your story transitions from being about the company (and appealing to your interviewer) to being about yourself (and therefore dull).
[Read: Personal Branding, and Why It’s Important]
3. Focus on the future.
Talk about where you see the company going, and its role in future business. In this approach, you’re showing that you have picked this company specifically because you like where it is going and see yourself helping to get it there. Obviously, this type of conversation should be anchored in solid research. To talk knowledgably about the company’s future, you have to either know a lot about the industry or have access to good information. Sometimes future plans and visions are found in things like letters to shareholders, if you can find them. Ultimately, you have to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable and invested in the company’s goals — which is the gold standard of a good candidate for a job.
4. Make it personal.
Talk about a positive personal interaction with a current employee. Maybe it’s someone you know well, or even the recruiter who set up the interview! This approach shows that you admire the team — making it a subtle compliment to the interviewer — and that you’re willing to become a part of that team.
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