‘Why do you want this job’ is a common interview question like ‘Why should we hire you’ or ‘What are your salary expectations’ that comes up time and time again. Even if the question isn’t asked directly, you will want your interviewer to have a sense of why you’ve applied and that you’ll be a great fit for the role through your other answers. This makes this question a great place to start your interview preparation. Having a coherent explanation as to exactly why you want the role makes the perfect starting point for answering the rest of the questions in your interview.
Many interview candidates get frustrated by this question, complaining that it is too obvious or lazy and don’t take the time to prepare for it. Take advantage of this and make sure that you have an impressive answer prepared to help you stand out from the crowd.
Why do interviewers ask ‘Why do you want this job?’
The first step to preparing your answer is to understand why the question is being asked in the first place. Your answer to this question can tell your interviewer a number of things about you. Ultimately, they want to work out your motivation for applying for the role and where it fits in your long-term career plan.
By asking ‘why do you want this job?’ your interviewer hopes to find out if you are genuinely interested in the company and the role or whether you view this as more of a short-term option. They will want to find out if your long-term goals align with those of the company. They can also find out a bit about which aspects of the company or industry particularly interest you and gauge whether or not you will be suited to the role. The amount of research into the role and the company that you’ve done will also reveal how much you want the job. If you come to the interview unprepared for this question, it will seem as though you aren’t really interested in the role.
How to answer ‘Why do you want this job?’
Show your enthusiasm for the company
The first step is to do the research. You won’t be able to come up with a convincing answer if you don’t know much about the company. This is especially important if the role you’re going for is in a different industry to the one you’re leaving.
You should start with the company website. At the very least, this should give you an overview of the company and their current projects. Some may give you a more in-depth history and an idea of the long-term goals. If there is a section of the website dedicated to the press, spend some time going through these articles to catch up on their latest news. How the company presents itself online should give you an insight into the company culture.
The next step is to do a Google search. Take a look at any news on the company in mainstream media and in any industry-related publications. Get a sense of where the company sits within the industry and who its closest competitors are.
You should by now have collected quite a lot of information about the company and you will be able to hone in on a few of the facts that you are particularly excited about. Try to focus on aspects that relate to the role you’re interviewing for and your own skill set.
Show that you’re a good fit for the role
The next step is to highlight the skills and experiences which align with the role and the reasons you’ve given for being excited about the company. Try to base this on the most important skills or experience mentioned in the job description. By pinpointing the most important elements of the role, you will show that you really understand what the role entails. It will be useful to keep the job description at hand while preparing your answers. Make a list of the skills and experiences that you have and cross-reference those with those listed in the job description. Choose the most important for the role and base your answer around this.
As with most interview questions, try to focus on what you can do for the company rather than what you want from them. A good way to tackle this part of your answer is to focus on what you can contribute and that you are excited about the prospect. This last point is important; genuine enthusiasm will go a long way to convincing your interviewer that you do want the job and that you’re likely in it for the long haul.
Show why this move makes sense for your career
Once you’ve shown some enthusiasm for the company and the role, a nice way to round off your answer is to show how this job is the next natural career move for you. Try to emphasise that the role is the ideal way for you to progress in your career and, if possible, highlight that you see a long-term future at the company. Make sure you avoid giving the impression that the job will just be a stepping stone or a temporary thing for you.
A great way to strengthen this part of your answer is to mention some personal goals or values that align with those of the company. You should have picked up on these when you did your research into the company.
How not to answer ‘Why do you want this job?’
Because I need a job: This immediately gives the impression that you’ve only applied because it’s a job and not necessarily a job that you actually want. This might make interviewers nervous that you’ll jump ship as soon as something better comes along.
Because I need the money: This answer makes you appear more interested in the money than the job. It is much better to focus on your excitement about the role which will reassure your interviewer that you are serious about your career and worth investing in.
Answers that focus on what you need: In general, you want to avoid giving an answer that focuses entirely on you. After all, the interview is about what you can bring to the company.
How to answer ‘Why do you want this job?’
‘I am particularly interested in the work that you’re doing with electric vehicles. I am passionate about reducing the environmental impact of cars so I am particularly inspired by your company goal of expanding your electric car programme by 50% in the next 3 years. I have been looking for an opportunity where I can continue the work I did on electric vehicles at X but on a larger scale. This role certainly presents that opportunity. I would love to be part of making electric vehicles a viable alternative to petrol and diesel cars at your company.’
Why we like this answer: This candidate has matched one of their own passions with a company goal. They have positioned the job as a natural career move in order to progress and come across a driven individual. The important thing is that their drive seems to come from a passion for their work.
‘When I saw the role advertised, it particularly caught my eye because I’ve seen this company increasingly talked about in industry news. I find the prospect of helping a company grow very exciting. The role itself is the ideal progression for me from my previous role, I have a lot of experience in this area and the management aspect is something I’ve been looking for in my next position.’
Why we like this answer: This answer shows that the candidate is up to date with industry related news which indicates a genuine interest. They express excitement in the direction that the company is going in and positions the role itself as a natural next step for them. The desire to take on more responsibility shows that they are committed to their career progression.
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