The Blog

Answering That Killer Question

A recurring theme that employers mentioned was candidates not being able to explain why they want the job. Interviewers really enjoy this question, not because they like to see the interviewee squirm, but it gets some great information out of them.

Here at we have been redeveloping our website. This redevelopment has given me the chance to get out there and speak to employers at some of the biggest and best companies targeting graduate employees. I have been asking what they look for in a candidate, what makes a candidate jump off the page and really put themselves in a good position for employment.

A recurring theme that employers mentioned was candidates not being able to explain why they want the job. Interviewers really enjoy this question, not because they like to see the interviewee squirm, but it gets some great information out of them. Firstly, it allows the candidate to show their passion for the industry, the company or the role itself. Secondly, the question can allow get the candidate to show how much research they've done into the company, its practices and the role. Finally, some answers can usually end up waxing lyrical about the company and who doesn't like a bit of flattery?

There are usually a multitude of reasons as to why a candidate is applying for a job. It can be anything from professional direction to financial needs and applicable skills. Candidates need to attack the question on several fronts. They need to be able to convey a genuine benefit they see in the role/company, whilst also injecting a bit of personality, to persuade the employer that this is the only job they want.

However this can be a difficult thing to do and the path to employment is wrought with pitfalls and problems. So here's a guide of dos and don'ts to getting over that treacherous question and securing that graduate job.

Why do you want to work here? - The checklist

DO complement and praise the company. Employers want to see the candidate has done research into the company. Specific ways would be to highlight certain projects that have impressed the candidate and how they would like to be involved in similar projects. DON'T overdo it. There's flattery and massaging the company's ego and there's sycophancy. Candidates should stay away from going so heavy on the compliments that they become unbelievable.

Example: "I want to work here because that project that you did was revolutionary, flawless, amazing, pioneering, it was so amazing! It was genuinely the best thing that has ever happened and I want to do the next one!"

DO talk about what can be offered between candidate and company. If it is an entry or graduate position, companies tend to offer some training. Candidates would be advised to be interested in this, show how keen they are to learn and how it might help them in the future. DON'T act like the finished article. Employers are likely to be put off if a candidate believes they are the real deal and ready to walk in and breeze through everything. Candidates should have humility about their skills, what they can offer and not think that they are the big deal.

Example: "I want to work here because I'm ready to. I don't think I'll need any instruction just let me at it!"

DO relate similarities between candidate themselves and the company. Companies want their employees to be a part of the company. This is mainly focused at being able to understand the company morals and being able to relate that. Candidates would be advised to make a specific reference to a certain ideal. DON'T get it wrong. Research of the company is the best preparation a candidate can do. Make sure the candidate understands the direction of the company and relate it in a way they've thought about.

Example: "I want to work here because I really like with your company's community sports work...Oh? You don't have a community sports project?"

DO relate a long term plan. When the interviewer asks why they want this job, candidates need to demonstrate to recruiters why this job will benefit them. Candidates should think about how the training that the job offers might benefit them long term. DON'T let the employers think that they are using this job as a stepping stone. It would be ill advised for candidates to let the employer believe they are just here because they don't have anything better or will be using it as a stop gap until something better comes along.

Example: "I would work here because this job will do for the moment. I think it's as good as I'm going to get right now, so it's going to have to do."

DO talk about the benefits of the job. While some of these might be financial, think about what the job does and how does the customer or client benefit. Candidates should think beyond the money for any job. Unless it is a sales position with a commission structure, this can be a good way to demonstrate the hard work a candidate would put in. DON'T say the financial reward is the only reason a candidate is there. Some jobs will be financially driven, like sales, but candidates should not make this their motivation to work somewhere.

Example: "I only want to work here to earn a stack of cash!"

Candidates should use this motivational question to really show why they want to work somewhere. This requires a bit of thought, not only about the company and the role, but where a candidate can see themselves if they were successful. Research into these motivations can trigger some imagination about what a candidate really has to offer and where they want to go. This question can be the turning point of an interview and if it is done well can secure the job.