How do you respond when the interviewer asks you: “Why do you want to work for us?” It pays off to be strategically prepared for the question, especially if the aim is to stand apart from those candidates who simply go for the most obvious, fact-driven answer. Here are my thoughts based on my experience in interview coaching.
“Hire me – you’re hot” in the Dating World
Imagine you meet a really amazing guy or girl. You like them. And – lo and behold – it seems as if they like you, too. Boom! you think. You are in. All you need to do now is close the deal. So how do you do it and what do you say?
Clearly, the answer depends on who you are as a person, what it is that you value and how mature you are (read: what – in your experience – has worked in the past and what hasn’t). To make things a bit easier, I’ll give you a couple of options from which to choose.
- Hey you, I really like you. Let’s go out.
- Hey you, you’re hot. Let’s go out.
- Hey you, I really like you. I love your sense of humour and that I can talk to you for hours about interesting stuff. Let’s go out.
What’s it going to be? And, if the tables were reversed, if the guy or girl was to approach you, what would you like to hear the most if the stake was a long-term relationship (as opposed to a one-off adventure) and if, for the sake of this example, you did pride yourself in your sense of humour and you valued long, deep and meaningful conversations?
Of course, hearing that we’re liked is lovely, and someone telling us that we’re hot can give us the same pleasant buzz we experience when downing a smooth bourbon, slowly flowing down our throat, heating us up from the inside out. The question is: is this enough? Is this convincing enough for you to go: “Hey! This person is really interested in me and sounds like a good long-term fit.”
My hunch is that most people will end up opting for answer c. Answer c goes beyond a passing remark about your likeability, beyond a superficial comment on your looks and captures you more holistically: who you are as a person and what you stand for and value.
The question might look trivial, but it is one I’ve asked a lot of people. A. Lot. Of. People. Mostly, the conversation went something like this: “Listen, Joe, imagine you had the choice between someone who asks you out because you’re hot or someone who asks you out because they like you as a person and are interested in what you stand for. Who do you go out with?” As simple as that… and, thus far, sometimes instantly and sometimes after a bit of thought, not a single person has opted for the “Go out with me because you’re hot” choice. Big surprise! (*sarcasm*)
The “Hire Me – You’re Hot” Response in an Interview
Well, the truth is that if this scenario works in a dating context then it is likely to also work in a different one. Like a job interview. The reason I am saying this is because all too often I’ve interviewed potential candidates, questioning them on their motivation for joining a particular company, and was confronted with the “Hire me – you’re hot” response.
Basically they rattled off some garbage about their interest in the company because it was big or international or would give their resume an edge. To translate it into the context of our relationship example, the candidates were saying: “Date me because you’ll look great on my arm; in fact, you make me look better and I can put another deep notch onto my bed post.” Wow.
Of course, the current facts and figures of your potential employer are important, but I invite you to go a bit deeper the next time you prepare for an interview. Go beyond the “Hire me – you’re hot!” response to demonstrate that you are not only a great fit for the company but that you have also already thought about what it would mean to continue your journey together, long-term. Because, let’s face it, someone who is attracted to who you are as a person and to what you stand for is far more interesting than someone who just likes you for your looks.
The company’s MVV
How to do this? Easy. The trick is to find out who the company would be, what they would stand for and how they would envision their future if they were a person. So the next time you go for an interview, in addition to memorising the usual facts and figures, check out the company’s mission, vision and values (MVV). Read through their corporate social responsibility report and ask yourself how the company’s activities, their vision and corporate principles overlap with your own interests, priorities and plans for the future. Where do your values align with the company’s? Do they at all? Is their mission something you want to be part of and if so, how can you link it to what you’ve done so far and intend to do further down the track? What can you contribute? How would hiring you solve their current problems and help them realise their goals later on?
Answering these questions when preparing for an interview and developing some meaningful questions to ask the interviewer, will lead to a much more satisfying experience for both. It will also show that you have put some serious thought into how you fit into the company’s culture and future vision. Ultimately, demonstrating that you – at least partially – share the company’s MVV helps you to convince the interviewer that there is added value in hiring you because you can illustrate that you stand for what they stand for and that the realisation of their future goals is of interest to you, too. Basically, you’d be offering a relationship based on shared values and a shared future vision as opposed to more superficial factors.
While this might not guarantee you the job, in the very least it is likely to lead to an interesting conversation, gives you the feeling of preparedness and significantly increases your chance of being remembered for future offerings. And, if in the process, both of you realise that you look hot on each other’s arms, then that’s a great bonus!