We've all faced this question in a job interview: "So, why exactly do you want to work for us?" The question seems very straightforward, yet it trips up many candidates. I'm shocked by how many times I've heard responses that indicate a lack of in-depth research about our organization. Doing your homework, though, is only the first step. You have to go much further to answer this question effectively. In a recent article for Fast Company, James Reed explains how to approach this question successfully:
CONNECT WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO THE JOB DESCRIPTION
Some hiring managers will ask you directly what motivates you to do great work in order to see whether you’re just in it for the paycheck. This is a great opportunity to explain why this job at this company, and not just a job at any company, is what you’re after.
Most of us go to work each Monday morning, at least in part, so we’ll be paid by the end of the month. But as both you and your potential employer have probably discovered, people who are motivated solely by the money are rarely the most enthusiastic, productive, or successful members of the team. The jobs you excel at will be ones that really get you buzzing—that you find you enjoy in some way and have some intrinsic motivation for. Your interviewer wants to know if this job will be one of those jobs for you.
I think there's a danger here though. I've seen many candidates try to connect what motivates them to the job description. However, they don't quite get the skills and capabilities dimension of this question right. Most candidates are eager to argue that they have the right skills for the job. They wan to explain that they are highly qualified. However, the best candidates also argue for why this position will be challenging in some respects. In what ways will it help them grow and develop? Where's the stretch in this position for them? Being able to argue that you are highly qualified, yet there is also some opportunity to grow and develop, is essential to answering this question effectively. Otherwise, the interviewer will wonder: Will this person be ready to move on after only a short period of time? Will this position be engaging enough to keep them interested and intrinsically motivated? It's a delicate balancing act, of course. You don't want to portray the position as too much of a stretch... but on the other hand, you don't want to make the case that it will be a piece of cake either. The best candidates walk that fine line, and in so doing, they make a powerful case for landing that desired position.