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Some time ago I got a refusal after an interview because the company was looking for somebody who can "better express their motivation to work for Companyname".

At this point I don't understand how this works at all. Probably this is the polite form of refusing me because of some other reason?

How it looks for me:

  1. I am not looking actively for a new job, I am just open for opportunities that offer improvement for me as developer and relocation from ex ussr to Europe.
  2. I was found by a recruiter that offered me the interview with the company that I never heard of before (as usual).
  3. The Recruiter provided me with some marketing information and news about the company.
  4. The Interviewer said "we good, we ambitious, we growing, we got funding".
  5. With such amount of information this company just looks better than an arbitrary outsourcing company.

Which kind of motivation do they expect? I get invitations for interviews once a month on average, in most cases it is product companies and for me they look almost most the same. None of them I heard of before another recruiter contacted me. In most cases they said that they require some other experience. But this is the first time I got refused because of my motivation.

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    You have to know the other way around. The company ask recruiter "Why we should talk with this guy?" and recruiter, wanting to get paid says "Oh, they are SOOOO eager to work for you guys, I told him companyname and he said it's his dream company". And then the bubble burst. Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 12:50
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    I don't got a lot of information what is mean "there". And what their advantages over others companies.
    – Hayate
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 12:54

6 Answers 6

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I am just open for ... relocation from ex ussr to Europe.

mainly translates to:

I do not care who I work for, as long as I get out of ex-USSR

which, extra-simplified, translates to:

I do not care about the company that will hire me

Well, companies want you to care about them. In that way, you are likely to stay with them for a longer time, which means that they will not have to start the recruiting process very soon again.

Even if you did not hear about the company before, you can still find interesting things about them - which you can deliver back to them as "motivation".


My own experience

Several years ago I was contacted by a small no-name company for a job. Of course, pretty much nobody heard about them, not only me.

So during the interview, I asked the guy to explain me about the company and about their work. And he did. I told him that I did not have any expertize in many of the areas required, but I had other expertize to compensate. I made it clear which parts of their business were attractive and why they were attractive.

As a result, the guy understood that I am not the best technical fit, but I was a very promising future employee. He was happy.

The end was not so happy - life organized things differently, and we did not do business together.

But one can always show interest in anyone / anything - if they are interested. You just need to find what is interesting, and actually show it.

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    An add on to the concept of caring is that companies don't necessarily want candidates interested in them, they want candidates interested in the company's domain. I want to work for company x because they solve problem y that I'm passionate about. This kind of motivation to the space leads to people who produce better work because it is important to them. Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 7:09
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What I'm looking for as an interviewer is that you actually want to work for my company - because that means that you're likely to stay around and not run off to another company as soon as you get another offer.

You don't sound like you actually want to work for this company as opposed to any other product company in Europe, so why should I take the chance on hiring you, getting you up to speed on the company just to watch you leave in a year?

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  • I understand that they afraid that i leave them. But in this case why they use services of recruiting agencies? I am in their place would create cool tech blog and would promote my company among developers community. I sure such recruiting services find developers that don't heard about their company. And how suppose i should distinguish their company? I don't heard from them anything that i don't heard month ago from other recruiter about other company.
    – Hayate
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 12:45
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    Philip, I don't want to work for your company. What I want is a job that is interesting and pays well. If and as long as you provide that, I'll do a good job. You can't ask for more. Do you seriously think there's something so special about your company that it would keep me there?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 7:55
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    @gnasher729 I was just about to write something similar. I think it depends on the market situation and one's qualification. In some areas, e.g. specialized areas of IT/software, an applicant can reasonably expect the company to tell them why one should for them and not some other company. Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 12:21
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    'you actually want to work for my company' - that's a bit difficult to understand... Does it imply such level of devotion that if your company rejects him then he'll stop searching, and will never accept an offer from any other company? Isn't that too much to expect?
    – Igor G
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 3:42
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    @BrtH there are a plethora of reasons that have nothing to do with the company as a whole: it pays well, the other job is further away, the job description implies fitting technology, good terms etc. For nothing of this I need to be interested in whatever the company actually does as long as my skills match the job description. Sure, some people want to work at companies that overlap with their personal interests in general or want to try and pick a company by social or political stances, but it's well possible to prefer jobs without preferring the company as a whole. Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 10:53
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That's part of the human experience. Recruiting is a lot like mating. Each side smells the other side, and wants to be seduced.

Took me 1 full year to get my first job. Feedback was universally "not enough motivation". One day, I filled myself with excitants (Guarana & Masala Tea, nothing illegal), screamed in my head "banzai" for the whole train time. The lady told me while arriving, "uou'll have 2 interviews today. If everything goes right, we'll call you next week for a third appointment". The same evening, she called me to say me the contract was already sent.

There is no obvious reason, besides "human beings want to be desired". A company is made of human beings. It has a part of irrational, but people doing the recruitment will feel more confident if you make them feel desired. By cheating with myself, by changing my pre-interview routine, I did push myself into a mood that was more convincing the recruiters that I was motivated. It's just a matter of how the human brain works, ultimately.

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    Huh. Drugging yourself with stimulants before the interview to boost apparent energy levels and interest isn't something I've heard recommended before, but it makes sense when you think about it. I think I might chug a few Red Bull or Monster energy drinks before my next interview.
    – nick012000
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 3:59
  • @nick012000 the important thing is not stimulants, it's to be able to change one's mind. The image others have of you depends on it. Stimulants are just one was amongst many others.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 11:36
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Some companies assume that you research them before the interview. They prefer candidates that know as much details of the company as possible and think that you will only stay if you are enthusiastic about what they do, while you may just want a job that pays or are more focused on how they do your particular part, which is not knowledge publicly available, so you might not bother to try and look it up.

These companies will look for signs that you "did your work", know about their products and show enthusiasm to work for them in particular.

Other companies however don't care. I for one will get suspicious if someone talks too much about how he wants to work especially for the company I'm working/hiring for and how he loves the company. I'll likely think they are bullshitting me because they assume I want them to show enthusiasm for the company. That makes me wonder in what other areas they are trying to bullshit me and I'll be much more careful in assessing them, rather leaning on the negative than the positive side when interpreting answers that are not so clear.

Bottom line: You may want to do some research about companies you apply to, so you at least know a bit about the company. That already shows some "interest". It also costs some time, which means effort on your end - and exactly this effort spent indicates to interviewers that you take this interview particularly serious and it's not one in a million (obviously, they might underestimate how quickly one can google a few base facts...). I'd be careful though with claiming more emotions than there are to work specifically for a company, it often shows or appears awkward. Either way you risk not being considered a good fit - for being too emotional and potentially bullshitty about it or for appearing too unenthusiastic. So in the end, it's up to you whether you want to be rejected for who you are or for who you are role-playing to be. However, if you run into a lot of rejections for going at it one way, maybe a strategy to success is to lean a bit into the other direction.

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  • At the end I agree. I made research for last interview, but apparently, not enough well prepared.
    – Hayate
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 4:55
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I often ask people in an interview what motivates them. It is a good if they can answer something to that. Often I will not care so much about the content but rather about how free they can answer. However - here are some sentences from developers I liked. I hope that helps your creativity:

"I want to write reliable and good code. Only then I can sleep at night." Several developers told me in an interview this sentence - for me a plus to hire them as quality is crucial.

"When my code at the end of the day has less lines and more features." From a friend of mine - a genius sentence.

"I want to make the software online accessible for more people" or "I want to improve the usability". I like it when a developer thinks about the user and not only program code.

I like it also a lot when people tell me what they want to learn and where they want to improve.

For me personally it is: Challenge - learn and master new things and to surpass my own expecations. I like to create things that have not been there previously and that make the world somehow better. I do this for myself and that is actually the greatest reward for me. In Addition I want to make a ton of money. Also I love the freedome to realize my ideas and to come up with the best approach for a problem.

The question is tricky to answer and has many answers, but one should be able answer it also for onself. Programmers are detail oriented (they have to), but it is really good for your life to think about what you like and understand your emotions. Having some goals enables to make decisions easier so you get there - to the things you like. Developers that are stuck too much in detail (and that have great problems in giving an answer) often perform poor.

Overall a job interview gives me only some intention. I try to talk with my applicants freely and see how much they know about technology, if they are informed and if they really like what they are doing or what their opinion is. My experience is, that this overall "talking test" helps me to reliable filter low quality people, that are bad in communication. Determining the good ones is then done with a programming test and not talking.

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I'm adding this answer because the other answers don't really touch on the topic. Most companies don't care that you want to work for that exact company necessarily. What they're interested in is your motivation to work in the company's business domain. You may never have heard of company x, however, after researching the company you realize that they solve problem y in the ERP automation sector, and that's something you've always been fascinated by. Suddenly, your interest in problem y very easily translates into an interest to work for company x.

There are plenty of people who simply want to put their skills to use for any company willing to pay them. Not many employers are going to be enthusiastic about this kind of candidate because they are (as described by other answers) a threat for stability. Not only are they likely to leave, they're likely to do it after all benefit has been received from the company (training, experience, etc.). Also, because they're not motivated in the space, the quality of their work will likely suffer as they will not be motivated to understand the space and its nuances fully.

Start by defining your interest in the business domain that the company operates in and how that interest is fueling your career. Continue by asking questions about the company to demonstrate curiosity on how partnering with the company can further your participation in that business domain. That is the litmus test that ultimately defines your "interest" in a company.

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