1) Why companies ask this question
Almost all companies will ask the ‘Why?’ question in their interviews. It is asked in over 80% of 1-2-1 interviews across the globe and Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple (FAGMA) are no different.
This makes it one of the questions that you can prepare for in advance. If you have an interview coming up with any of the FAGMA companies then be prepared to answer the question “Why Amazon?” or “Why Google?” or “Why Facebook?”.
The reason that companies ask this question is to test your motivation and understanding of the company. Candidates that really want the job will have an understanding of the company, it’s values and it’s ambition; candidates that are looking for any job will have little understanding of the company.
Those that are motivated to work at the company will undoubtedly make better employees in the long run as they are more likely to enjoy their work. This does not mean that you cannot be motivated to work at Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft AND Apple however.
2) What to include in your answer
Candidates that answer this question well are able to communicate their motivation and understanding of the company in a compelling way.
The easiest way to provide a compelling answer is to demonstrate a deep understanding of the company. There are four ways to do this:
Company history – What are the origins of the company; Why was it founded? Who founded it? What were the key factors to its success? How has it grown to the size it is now?
For Apple this might be ability to create products that customers didn’t know they wanted such as the iPad or for Amazon it could be obsessive focus on the customer enabling them to grow from an online bookstore to the e-commerce and tech powerhouse they are today.
Culture – All the FAGMA companies have their own independent cultures that have developed over the many years of their existence. To understand the true culture you need to speak to a current employee about what it is like to work there.
However, every company will state its values on their careers site. These are the attributed that they strive to live by. For example Microsoft values are: Respect, Accountability and Integrity. Showing interviewers how you align to these values is a good way to demonstrate your motivation to work there.
Networking – An easy way to show your motivation to work there and your understanding of the company is to speak to someone that currently works there.
Doing this immediately shows that you have made an effort to find out more about the company and that you have an accurate understanding because it has come directly from a current employee.
Ambition – Every company is driven by a bigger ambition or mission statement. It will be what they are working towards as a company.
For example, Apple’s mission statement is “to bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons and consumers in over 140 countries around the world.”
Amazon’s mission statement is “to continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy anything, and empower businesses and content creators to maximise their success. We aim to be the Earth’s most customer centric company.”
Aligning yourself and career ambitions with the company ambition demonstrates your commitment to the company and the reason you will be motivated to work there.
3) How to structure your answer
The basic structure for a good answer to the Why Amazon? Why Facebook? Why Google? question can be applied to all the FAGMA companies and can be used multiple times in a single answer. The structure is:
The reason is always a one-sentence line directly answering the question but you can give more than one answer at once, for example:
“The reason I want to work at Amazon is because of the customer-centric approach to product development”
Or for multiple reasons:
“There are two reasons why I want to work at Amazon; the people and their mission.”
For the understanding part of your answer, you need to demonstrate your understanding of them. Therefore, if one of your reasons is the mission statement then you need to be able to repeat their mission statement. If your reason is the culture then you need to state a couple of their values and so on. For the evidence you then move on to how this applies to you or resonates with you, what you have done that provides the interviewer with the evidence that it really does align with what you have done previously or what you are aiming to do in the future.
4) Example answers
Let’s take a look at what a good answer for the Why? Question at the FAGMA companies looks like:
Example answer to the Why Facebook? interview question:
There are two main reasons why I want to work at Facebook; 1) their focus on community and bringing people together and 2) the ecosystem they are building with their different applications; Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.
I personally believe in the strength of community and staying connected with loved ones. I was born and raised in Poland but went to college in America; Facebook enables me to keep in touch with my family and closest friends.
Secondly, I use all of Facebook’s social media platforms and believe in their potential to be increasingly integrated such as the recent feature released on WhatsApp that now enables Instagram videos to be viewed within the WhatsApp application. With so many users being active across all platforms it would really excite me to be a part of Facebook’s journey as the ecosystem develops even further.
Example answer to the Why Amazon? interview question:
There are two reasons why I want to work at Amazon; the people and their mission.
The people are a big motivation for me to work at Amazon. I have two friends currently working in the AWS product team and they are constantly talking about the quality of their teams but also the fun that they have at work. I find that the people are what make work enjoyable and so I believe I would enjoy coming to work every day and working for Amazon.
Secondly Amazon’s mission of continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy anything, and empower businesses and content creators to maximise their success is something I really align with. I am a loyal customer and prime member of Amazon because of the quality products and service they provide. I would be incredibly motivated to maintain and improve their market leading customer experience.
Example answer to the Why Google? interview question:
There are three reasons why I want to work at Google; 1) The continued investment and diversification into new technologies 2) The company’s commitment to sustainability and 3) The opportunity to work with high performing individuals
The first reason I want to work at Google is to be part of such an innovative company. I have followed Google’s growth from an online search engine into cloud-based document storage and self-driving cars. This continued appetite to be at the forefront of innovation really excites me.
The sustainability commitments that Google have made are the second reason why I want to work at Google. The fight against climate change is something really important to me and to know that Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and is aiming to be carbon free by 2030 is something that would make me incredibly proud as an employee.
Finally, I spoke with a current product manager, Shinji Veong, about the work they do and their teams. They emphasised just how impressive the Google teams were. For me I learn best from the people around me and the opportunity to learn from some of the best minds on the planet would be particularly motivating for me.
Example answer to the Why Microsoft? interview question:
There are two main reasons why I want to work at Microsoft; the product and the culture.
I have used Microsoft products since I started school. It fascinates me how many people and businesses use products such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel on a daily basis. The chance to work for a company that solves such a critical need for so many people would really motivate me.
The second reason why I want to work at Microsoft is the culture. I understand that there has been a shift in the company’s culture in the last few years towards constructive personal development and internal mobility of employees. The opportunity to develop and grow within Microsoft really appeals to me and I feel would benefit me immensely on a personal level and hopefully my team and Microsoft too.
Example answer to the Why Apple? interview question:
The first reason why I would like to work at Apple is the products. I have personally owned both an Apple Mac laptop and Apple iPhone and rely on them and enjoy using them on a daily basis. I believe that working on products that I can personally relate to would bring out the best in me.
The second reason why I would like to work at Apple is that I wholeheartedly believe in their mission. I would relish the opportunity to contribute towards “Bringing the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons and consumers in over 140 countries around the world.”
The final reason why I would like to work at Apple is the people. Having spoken to current engineer, Amrit Patel, I can appreciate the focus on encouraging diverse thought and embracing the differences in who we are. This working environment would make the role thoroughly enjoyable.