Answering “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

Applying for work is a daunting task. Especially if you are like me and have been at it for MONTHS. What’s also dreadful is the interviews. Personally, I hate interview questions. One question should be easy to answer though. That is, if you have already answered it.

“Why do you want to work here?”

Now, everyone’s situation is different. This outline is ideal for those who are in a situation where they can be picky about their next (or first) career move, but even if you aren’t there, try to incorporate as much pickiness as possible. Try to not just apply with anyone for anything. This will help with answering “why here?” Also, being picky now will lead to a happier, healthier, and stronger career. … or at least I hope it will for me.

Here is my process for looking for a job:

[Disclaimer: I currently have a seasonal position with a company that does not meet all the criteria below. However, this is a test position for me. It will answer the question of whether or not I will enjoy this kind of work and the industry. If I do, then I will pursue more related career opportunities.]

Create a list of potential employers

This step is pretty easy and there are several ways to go about it. One way is to open up yellow pages, yelp, really any business directory will work. Businesses hire people. That is a good place to start if you are completely lost. Next you have to narrow down that list because let’s be honest, you don’t want to work just ANYWHERE, nor are you qualified to do so.

There are a few ways to narrow down your search. A good place to start as any is the commute. It must be within X distance from your residence. Available parking when you get there, ei is there designated employee parking. Or, there is public transit reasonably near by.

Another way to narrow it down is by awards. Best Place to Work 2016. Safest Place to Work 2016. Fastest Growing Businesses in [the Area] 2016. You get the idea.

The last–and best–filter is industry, which will be covered later on in the article.

Choose a job function

You might be desperate for a job. Either you just graduated, are about to graduate, just got laid off, or maybe you quit suddenly. Do everything in your power to not allow this desperation to influence your application process if it can be helped. After all, an income will only make you happy for a while, and then you will start nitpicking the job and even the company. Pick a job function, or at least a short list of functions to start with. Do you enjoy cooking? Problem solving? Data entry? Do you thrive being around new people frequently?

My suggestion is that for this step, create a list of job responsibilities you would like to have. That can make it much easier to determine which listings to apply to.

For me, operations is more my thing. Manage the overall files and applications. Make sure that things get where they need to go, and people have what they need to have. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense for me to apply for a sales — or “client management” — position.

Choose an industry

Some industries are just naturally more interesting to us, while others are naturally more daunting. What are your interests? Make a list of activities, products, services, and topics that interest you. Just about everything is a business and all industries are hiring. Like politics? You could join a political campaign, a media company to cover an election or politician, or a marketing company specialized in politics.

Maybe cats are more your thing. Again, join a company that is either directly involved with cats or a company that works with cat (animal) companies. You get it.

My thing is finance and economics. Therefore, I should apply with mutual funds, wealth management companies, risk management companies, banks, think tanks, or economic research companies.

You should probably also make a list of industries where you would not want to work. This will make it easier for you to not apply to those.

Identify the locations currently available and scheduled expansions.

This step can be a little difficult. Some companies make it really easy to see where they are located and others not so much. Go to the corporate website. Some companies have multiple websites. If the website looks like it is for clients or customers find the “careers” or “investors” link. Those are usually located in the footer of the page–the very bottom, in small font, and a hard to see color in contrast to the background.

This step will be beneficial to you in many ways. One, it will show you where local locations are. That gives you more options. Two, it will show you national and international locations. That gives you options later.

My spouse and I have no plans on “settling down” anytime soon. We are in a location for the duration of the opportunity. Right now we are in St Louis so he can earn his PhD. When he graduates, we will be looking across the nation and the world for our next opportunity because why not? Therefore, my preferred employer will have locations nationwide, or even more ideally worldwide. This way, when he graduates, he is not stuck looking only here, nor do I necessarily have to quit working for a company I enjoy. Overall, we are keeping our options open.

Choose other criteria that are meaningful to you, such as identifying current scandals

There are many other criteria that you can use to narrow down your shortlist from everyone to just who will benefit you. On my list includes “scandal free” or at least scandal light. It is important to know the company you where are working, or where you want to work. Google it. While you are at it, Google the leadership team. Especially the leader you will be directly, or indirectly, reporting your activities (meaning your boss, or boss’s boss’s boss’s boss, you get it).

There are scandals you can forgive, and those you cannot. Bluebell had the listeria outbreak. In general that can be forgivable, incidents happen. Research why it happened and the company’s responsible. Same with Chipotle. Find out to the best of your ability why and how it happened, and determine if leadership responded in such a way that meshes with your personal ethical code of conduct.

For me, the Wells Fargo scandal is unforgivable. Leadership should not have such strict criteria for keeping a job that an employee is tempted to break the law. If such pressures are unavoidable, the employees should be so closely watched that when they do cross the line, it is found out IMMEDIATELY. John Stumpf did not respond in a way that sits well with me. It took way too long for the company to announce that the toxic practices would be ended. As a result, even with him gone, I cannot trust anyone in leadership there, at least not for a while.

Once I worked for a call center that dealt with extremely sensitive information. Therefore we were watched like hawks. Accidental slip ups where strikes against you. Purposeful “slip ups” and you were terminated on the spot.

A banker’s fiduciary responsibility should NEVER be in question.


The easiest way to answer why do you want to work here is to answer it before applying.

Interviewer: “Why do you want to work here?”

You: “Aside from having the position and growth opportunities I am looking for in a company. I want to work here because this company is multinational. Life events and whims may lead me to want to live in London in five years and I would prefer working for a company that has a position there. It would make the idea more of a possibility and less of a dream. Also, you are on the list of Best Companies 2016 in the area. Which is what lead me here in the first place.”

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