Why do interviewers so often ask “Why do you want to work here?” You’re on an interview to figure out whether you want to work there, or not. You can’t possibly answer the question “Why do you want to work here?” until you actually know that you do!
This is just another variation of the “Grovel, Knave” mindset so prevalent among weenie job interviewers. They probably don’t even realize that they are treating job-seekers like second-class citizens. There is a whole line-up of “Grovel, Knave” questions that show up on the typical job interview:
- With all the talented candidates, why should we hire YOU?
- What’s your greatest weakness?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What makes you qualified for this job?
- What does your former boss say about you?
When our kid stuffs his sock down the tub drain and we have to call the plumber, we don’t get to ask the plumber questions like these. We ask the plumber “What’s your hourly rate?” and if we can afford it, we ask “When can you fit me into your schedule?” We don’t take the arch tone and the superior attitude with the plumber.
It’s only in the realm of employment that we look down our noses at job-seekers, because we believe that we get to pick from among a vast array of them. We falsely believe that the purpose of a job interview is for a bunch of job-seekers to parade their wares for a hiring manager and then for him or her to choose among them.
That’s false. I’ve been recruiting forever, and I know as well as anyone does that great candidates are hard to find. You have to work to get them. I used to get up before dawn to catch an early flight and go to a distant city to interview a candidate in the airport lounge in his or her town.
I never left the airport. I interviewed the person and then got back on a plane. That’s what you have to do if you care about talent. You have to bend and flex.
A lot of employers don’t really care about talent, although they should! It will take a while, but as the economy improves and more and more working people figure out that the only power they will have in the employment relationship is the power they give to themselves, old-school “Impress me!”-type employers will end up short-handed.