Before hiring you, big tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook or Microsoft will want to make sure that you have thought about why you want to work for them and not for their competitors. "Why work here?" is therefore one of the most frequently asked behavioral interview questions.
In this article, we will first discuss how to give an impressive answer to the question and walk through example answers for Google, Amazon and Facebook. And we'll conclude with the best way to practice delivering your answer.
1. How to answer ↑
A great way to understand how to answer the question is to put yourself in the shoes of employers and look at why they ask this question in the first place.
1.1 Why ask this question
There are two main things employers assess before hiring you. First, they analyze if you have the right skills to do the job. And second, they evaluate if you are motivated enough to be fully invested in your job everyday. The "Why work here?" interview question is testing this second aspect: your motivation.
Google, Amazon, Facebook and other companies want to make sure that they are the right place for you. If you work on projects you find interesting and love your colleagues, they know that you are much more likely to become a superstar employee. On the contrary, if you hate the culture and aren't excited by what you work on, you are likely to underperform and to quit after a few months
Answering the "Why work here" question in advance of your interviews and in your PM cover letter is therefore a good idea. And, it's also a great opportunity for you to double check that you are actually interested in working for the company.
1.2 Great answers
Now that you know why companies ask "Why work here" let's turn our attention to answering the question. In our experience, the secret to giving a really great answer is to make it as specific as possible. Here are the main elements we recommend talking about:
- Products. If you already know what product you are going to work on and are a big fan of that product now is the time to say it. For instance, if you're interviewing for Microsoft Azure you could mention that it's been your default development platform for the past five years.
- People. If you have met current or past employees you enjoyed talking to this is also the perfect time to mention it. When you do this your interviewer will think: "Ok, she knows a few people who worked here and seems to have a good sense of what we are about."
Values. If you admire some of the values of the companies you are joining this can also make for a great argument. For instance, Google is known to have a really technical culture so you could mention something like: "I enjoy working on deeply technical topics and I'm really excited that Google considers technology to be its lifeblood. This isn't the case of all companies."
- Mission. If the mission of the company truly resonates with you then you should definitely mention it. In our experience, this works best with smaller start-ups who are trying to build something new and typically have a strong vision. But it's still worth reading about the mission and vision of the bigger companies you are interviewing with (e.g. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.) to see if it resonates with you.
Here is the ultimate test to know if your answer is specific enough. Write it down and try swapping the name of the company you are interviewing with (e.g. Google) with one of its competitors (e.g. Microsoft). If your answer still makes sense when doing that then you're not being specific enough and you should continue working on it.
1.3 Common mistakes
For completeness, let's also look at the most common mistakes we see candidates making when they answer the "Why work here" question. These answers are all mistakes because they are not specific enough.
Mistake #1: "You are the right company size for me." Knowing that you want to work for a big tech company instead of a series A start-up is great. But it's not a good answer to the "Why work here" question because there are tens of large tech companies you could work for. Your interviewer wants to hear why you want to work at their company in particular, not any company which has a similar size.
Mistake #2: "I'm impressed by how fast the stock price is growing." Wanting to work for a company with a rising stock price or which has just raised a round of funding makes sense. But once again, there are tens of companies which fit that description and it's therefore a really weak answer to the question.
Mistake #3: "Your company is well known." Finally, it can be fine to want to work for a company because of its strong reputation. But, when you explain your motivation you should go deeper and outline why you are particularly excited about this company and not another one with a similarly strong brand name.
Exercise: write down your answer
It's now time to start crafting your own answer. Pick a company and write down why you want to work there in the comments section of this article. Writing down an answer will help you to clearly articulate your reasons, which will help you to provide a quality answer for this question during your interview.
2. Why Google? ↑
Here's an example of a strong answer to the "Why Google?" question.
"Why Google" - Example answer
I want to work at Google for three reasons.
First, I'm excited to join Google because of its deep technical culture. I did a PhD in Computer Science and I know that by joining the company I'll be working with colleagues who are as excited as I am about advanced technology.
Second, I'm attracted to Google because of its policy to let employees use up to 20% of their time on personal projects that further the company's goals. I like being creative and pursuing opportunities I identify and it sounds like this policy would enable me to do that.
Finally, I studied with Nancy Smith and Aaron Fox who were part of the same PhD program as I am and now work at Google. Both of them are enjoying their time here and encouraged me to apply to join the team.
Notice how the answer above is really specific. If you swapped "Google" for another company name it wouldn't make sense anymore. If you are interviewing with Google, or with Google Cloud Platform, then you'll find the following resources helpful to put your answer together:
- Google's mission statement (by Google)
- Google's values (by Google)
- Google strategy teardown (by CBS Insights)
3. Why Amazon? ↑
Here's an example of a great answer to the "Why Amazon?" question.
"Why Amazon" - Example answer
I want to work at Amazon for three reasons.
First, I admire how customer-obsessed Amazon is. This is something I've experienced first-hand when dealing with the customer support of the company. And it's also a principle I've been pushing at my current company.
Second, one of my co-workers used to be a Senior Product Manager at Amazon in Seattle. He has really great things to say about the company and often talks about how much he learned about product management there. I look forward to being immersed in that environment.
Third, I've spent the last five years of my career in the streaming space and really like that industry. I love the Amazon Video product and how it is positioned in the market. I'm therefore really excited to be joining that specific team.
Notice how the answer above is really specific again. If you swapped "Amazon" for another company name it wouldn't make sense anymore. If you are interviewing with Amazon, or with Amazon Web Services, then you'll find the following resources helpful to put your answer together:
- Amazon's mission statement (by Amazon)
- Amazon's leadership principles (by Amazon)
- Amazon strategy teardown (by CBS Insights)
4. Why Facebook? ↑
Here's an example of a great answer to the "Why Facebook?" question.
"Why Facebook" - Example answer
I want to work at Facebook for three reasons.
First, I've worked on messaging products for the past few years and I'm excited to join the FB Messenger team because the work it does impacts more than 1 billion people. This is a truly unique opportunity.
Second, I met Marina Bayard, an engineering manager for FB Messenger who recommended I apply. I really enjoyed my discussion with her as she seemed to be truly passionate about messaging and working for Facebook.
Finally, I'm attracted to Facebook's culture of moving fast and being bold. These are some of the values I try to implement in my own work and I'm excited to join a team that thinks along similar lines.
Notice how the answer above is really specific again. If you swapped "Facebook" for another company name it wouldn't make sense anymore. If you are interviewing with Facebook then you'll find the following resources helpful to put your answer together:
- Facebook's mission statement (by Facebook)
- Facebook's values (by Facebook)
- Facebook product teardown (by HowDo)
- Facebook latest research (by CBS Insights)
5. Practicing your answer ↑
By now you should have a clear idea of what to include in your answer as well as the common pitfalls to avoid. If you haven't already done so, you should write down your answer to the question. Once that's done then your next step will be practicing. We recommend doing that in two ways.
5.1 Practice by yourself or with peers
In our experience, writing a good answer is half the battle. The other half is delivering that answer confidently. It's therefore a good idea to practice telling your answer out loud to make sure it flows naturally before your interviews.
If you have friends or peers who can do mock interviews with you, it's a great idea to get feedback from them. This can be especially helpful if your friend has experience with PM interviews, or is at least familiar with the process. You can also find peers to practice with on our new PM mock interview platform.
5.2 Practice with experienced PM interviewers
Finally, you should also try to practice with experienced PM interviewers as they’ll be able to give you much more accurate feedback than friends and peers. If you know a Product Manager who can help you, that's fantastic! But for most of us, it's tough to find the right connections to make this happen. And it might also be difficult to practice multiple hours with that person unless you know them really well.
Here's the good news. We've already made the connections for you. We’ve created a coaching service where you can practice 1-on-1 with ex-interviewers from leading tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and more. Learn more and start scheduling sessions today.
Keep reading: product manager interview articles