“When I’m asked “Why do you want to work here?” the truth is “because I am unemployed and I really need money, I’ll take almost any job at this point.” How do I answer that with out it sounding like I’m putting the job down or desperate? I am desperate, but I’m not putting the job down, it’s just not the sort of job I see myself working for for more than a year or two.”
First, be careful not to get two very separate questions confused. There are lots of reasons why people want to work, and you don’t need to answer to why you want to work. The key here is in finding the right way to explain why you want this job. Obviously you want it, or you wouldn’t have applied and shown up to the interview! Examine why you want the job, then decide what about that reason will make you a great employee – that’s what this question is really about. The employer wants to know what’s motivating you — what about the job will get you out of bed and into work each day.
[Your reason] “I need the money”
[Translation] “I want to [insert goal here].” Chances are you don’t want all that cash to just bring it home and count it, so talk about the bigger meaning behind your paycheck (support my family, provide a stable income, put myself through school, etc.). That tells an employer you’re going to be a motivated, stable employee. Sure, you might move on if a bigger paycheck beckons at some point, but that’s pretty much to be expected — most people have an ideal dollar figure in mind that would prompt them to change jobs. If you stick around for a year or two doing your best work, many employers will be glad to send you on your way with a smile and a reference.
[Your reason] “I hate my job”
[Translation] “I want to explore other opportunities.” It’s safe to assume that employers know you’re not totally pleased. If you were completely happy with your current job, you wouldn’t be interviewing for this one. But whatever you do, don’t bash your job or your boss – it’s quite easy for the employer considering you now to imagine you’ll be saying the same things about them someday. Be gracious, grateful and professional when you talk about the opportunities and learning experiences of your last job.
[Your reason] “I’m bored”
[Translation] “I want to improve my skills.” Chances are you are bored because you’re not being challenged. Maybe it’s that you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time or you’ve mastered the tasks required in your current job. Don’t come off as cocky about how awesome you are, but instead be genuinely sincere about your desire to move on and learn new things while being grateful for what your last job taught you (even if all you learned was patience with repetitive tasks).
[Your reason] “I’m looking for my first job”
[Translation] “I’m eager to gain experience and learn how to be a great employee!” Note the exclamation mark – enthusiasm, eagerness and energy are a first-time job hunter’s best friend, and help to make up for the experience you lack.
While your situation may be slightly different than the examples, hopefully you can see how to apply them to your own reasons for wanting the job. Need advice? Ask away, we’re here to help!
The interview question “Why do you want this job” or “Why do you want to work here?” is a variation on “What interests you about this position and our company?” In a dating situation, this is the equivalent of “Why me?” or “Why are you interested in me?” Your answer should be about why this employer is unique and special in your mind and how your skills are a match to their needs.
Not About You
You probably have personal reasons why you want the job, such as you’re out of work, you need a paycheck, it’s a short commute or the company offers good health insurance. The hiring manager doesn’t care about your personal reasons. In fact everyone he or she interviews probably has similar reasons for wanting the job. Sharing your personal reasons will not help you get hired.
You may also have professional reasons why you want the job. Perhaps it’s right on your career path, the company has a good reputation or the job uses your skills and offers you the chance to grow. Again, these reasons will not advance your candidacy unless they are tied directly to your ability to bring value to the company.
Instead of focusing on your reasons, ask yourself “How can I answer this question in a way that further convinces the hiring manager that I am the best person for this job?” Some possible answers:
- This job would allow me to use my proven skills to bring great value to this company (followed by a specific example of how your skills bring value)
- I want this job because I like solving problems and creating value. I am confident I can do both of those in this job because . . . (example of past success that relates to this position)
- I want to be in a job where I can really have an impact. In this position, my impact will be . . . (example based on what you’ve learned about where this position has impact)
- I want to work for a company where I believe in the product (or service). That passion will drive me to great results (example from past)
Notice that each answer includes a specific example. It’s easy enough for any candidate to say “I know I would be good at this job”. Your examples of past successes are your proof of that. You know you would be successful, solve problems, drive value and excel because you’ve done it before in other jobs.
It can be challenging to think of such examples on the fly. That’s why preparing brief and memorable stories in advance is helpful. While you want to be prepared, do not let your answer sound stiff or canned. Be genuine as you share the real value you will bring.
Good advanced research on the company will help you understand their mission and what is unique about them. If the company is built around a passion, product or mission that resonates with you, this is a great time to let them know. Employers like to hire people who have a genuine passion for the company and product.