If you’ve got a job interview, the one question they’re almost 100% going to ask you is “So… why do you want to work here?” and it’s usually the one question you forget to prepare for. Luckily, we can save you from mumbling about it being a “really nice company” and shrugging gormlessly like a big gorm (who has lost all the other gorms).

Here are some handy hints on how to respond…

Reference something specific that the company has done well

Let’s take GoThinkBig as an example – yep, we’re here to help 900,000 unemployed young people get jobs. And yep, we were formed by the lovely O2 Telefonica and Bauer Media. But saying that just feels like you’ve thrown in whatever facts you can get your hands on without really thinking about the question. What have we done specifically that impressed you?

Always tag a reason onto things

Don’t just reel off cool things they’ve done, but explain why you’d love to get involved with them. Do you love the idea of helping out at the GoThinkBig Sessions because you love chatting to people, and have had a bit of experience with event organising, for example? Already I’m thinking of hiring you and I’m not even involved in recruitment.

Match your experience to what the company wants

Identify the key ethos of the company, and why your experience proves you’d be suited to it. So: “When I was doing work experience at (insert name of relevant company) I found that I was really, really passionate about x, y and z which seems to be something your company really values. That’s why I want to work here – I think I’d be a really good fit.” Adding in things that this company does better than other places you’ve been doesn’t hurt either, but don’t slag off your previous employers. A simple “What’s really cool is you guys have a very strong social media presence, which is something a lot of companies I’ve worked at have struggled with.”

Suggest a change, but sensitively

Fred Bolza, from Sony Music UK, hired his intern because during the interview he said Sony’s social media presence was crap and needed to be rebooted. It’s a risk, but it’s one that can really impress people if done just right; once you’ve raved about how great the company is, and what specific things you’d like to help with, throw in an improvement you could bring. Someone to set up an Instagram account, refresh site copy, help with a newsletter, target young people, anything that’ll set you apart. Never tell a potential employer they’re crap, though. Not all people are like Fred.

Nick stuff from the website

On the company’s site, there’ll be words like “dynamic” and “creative” and other buzz phrases that make up the company’s culture. Don’t just say “I want to work here because the culture of the company is dynamic”, but put your own spin on it so you don’t resemble a spambot. “I love the way your company isn’t afraid to take risks and treat things other companies might overlook, in a really creative way,” for example. But you know, deep down, that you totally nicked the idea from the website. Other good places to look for ideas to lift and bring up in your interview: the company blog, news updates, the About section, examples of previous work.

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