As your interview begins, the interviewer often looks you in the eyes and asks: “So you’re interested in this job? Tell us why.” While it may not always be their first question, you need to be prepared to answer some version of the “why do you want this job” question.
Basically you need to help them see you understand the position they’re looking to fill. And that you fit their position in a way that is as much about them as you. With enough reasons for them to believe you’ll find sufficient things there to keep you engaged — and wanting to stay on.
But there’s more…
Beware “bedazzle them” temptation!
For many job seekers, answering this question seems like an invitation to launch into a lengthy story all about you — your hopes and dreams and all kinds of things that might be interesting to share. And may even entertain the interviewer.
But this is a job interview. And you may be losing an opportunity to create a vivid connection between you and the actual job — and leaves an impression they remember. Not just an impression of an interesting person — but an impression of a person they can see working there. A person who gets them and the job … and would fit in well.
So the best answers help interviewers get to know more about the real you than just a name and words on a resume. They’re looking for answers that feel sincere and not an attempt to game them.
Employers look at the whole package. And it helps if they feel you’re being real with them. You’d be amazed how quickly memorized answers and attempts to simply please turn off interviewers.
Ask yourself why THIS job
Before going into any interview, you need to think about this particular job and what about it attracts you. Why will it keep you interested beyond the start-up phase, so they aren’t looking to fill it all over again too soon. And what about you fits so well for them that this turns into a win / win.
Still remember … even when answering about your feelings and choices, you can’t lose sight of the fact that you have to be right for them too. But for now, let’s just see why this job might work well for you: We can talk about working this into an interview answer in a little bit.
Possible reasons you might give
- You love the company and / or what it does and would like to grow with them. (Make sure you’ve researched them well before saying any of that.)
- This new job would let you use more of your preferred skills than your old job.
- You’ve been looking to get into this industry / skillset and see it as a chance to apply skills you already have. (Don’t forget the power of transferable skills.)
- You see this particular job as a great fit for your skills and career goals. (Have examples / reasons / maybe a short story.)
But, of course, you need to make your answer work for you, And for this particular job. So take time before your interview to really think this through — both for your answer and for thinking about whether the job is truly right for you. The next section offers some areas to consider in formulating YOUR answer.
General areas for why job is right
Again … the most important thing when answering the “why you want this job” question is finding reasons that make them see you are thinking about their needs as well as your own. The following offer frameworks for you to consider when formulating an answer that’s right for you … AND the job:
- Career path
- Environment / company culture you want to be part of
- Types of people you enjoy working with
- Learning possibilities
- Growth opportunities
- Feel you can do a great job for them (& why)
- Dream job you’ve been hoping for (again why)
BUT CAUTION … don’t just say you’re there to learn or grow or work with nice people. That’s not only weak, but misses the point of what’s in it for them. (Hint: Just knowing the job will make you happy is not enough. Paint a picture that shows you as a future team member / contributing employee.)
The interviewer does want to see you have thought about this specific job, but always in a way that helps them see what you bring with you that will help them achieve their goals. What you will add to the company — and to your coworkers work lives, if you get the chance.
A few “Olympian” thoughts
For many people, interviews feel like an Olympic event. You need stamina, focus, and determination to succeed. And maybe a bit of mental gymnastics. But you also need to know there is no one right way to answer an interview question. Any interview question. I’ve interviewed people and been interviewed — lots of times for both.
Like gymnasts, you bring your own style. And you need to make your answer fit you and the situation. When candidates come in with prepared answers and spit them out, they come off as robotic. And it certainly doesn’t help us get a real feel for who you are –and who you would be if you join the company.
Your energy, sincere interest, and preparation will show. And if you can leave them with a picture that helps them see you fitting in and doing the job well, then you’ve done all you can. Oh … and remembering to listen carefully and not jump ahead in your mind — be fully present — will help you “stick the landing.”
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