Interview Questions

Why Do You Want This Job?

One of the most commonly-asked interview questions is "Why do you want this job?" or its variations, “Why are you interested in this position?”, “Why do you want to work here?”. Knowing how to answer this interview question successfully can greatly impact the impression you leave on your interviewer.

In this article, we will discuss why employers ask this question, how you can answer it and show you concrete examples of effective answers to this common interview question.

How to answer “why do you want this job” interview question

Answering this interview question can be a surprisingly tricky one, especially if you try to answer it without thinking about who your audience is and what they really want to know. If you want to learn how best to answer this question, you will need to consider both the needs of the company and your own career goals.

When asked the interview question "Why do you want this job?", saying you're passionate about programming, writing, or some other skill with no mention at all of the recruiting company, is an immediate red flag.

Keep in mind that interviewers want specifics. For instance, when asked “Why do you want this job?”, they aren’t asking, “Why do you want to be an accountant?” they’re actually asking, “Why do you want this accounting position at this organization?”.

They want to know what motivated you to apply and why this position makes sense for you (and, of course, why you make sense for the company).

The first step to preparing a successful answer to this question is answering it for yourself. Set aside any preconceived ideas you have about what your answer should look like, and compose an honest statement that accurately sums up why you are pursuing this particular job.

You could say you’re looking for career advancement or a higher level role and that’s why you’re job hunting. You could say you want more leadership, more responsibility, more chance to work in a certain area or build a certain skill. You could say you want more exposure to any number of things (a technology, a certain industry, a different type of work environment like a small start-up, etc.)

So now they know what you want, and why their job is exciting to you. Those are great things to demonstrate, and you’ve already gone a long way toward making them happy with your interview answer. But companies hire based on their needs, not yours. So to really give a strong answer, conclude by putting the focus on their needs.

After you point out the things that excite you about their job, talk about how your strengths would play into what they need. If something is mentioned a lot in the job description, it’s not just a career opportunity they can provide you… it’s something they need help with!

They have to find somebody willing and excited to do this work. You can show them that you’re that person who can come in and solve their problems and help them succeed.

Take time to research about the company's visions and missions, read over the job description and requirements, and then use specific terms and keywords in your answer to show how you're a perfect fit for the job and how your values align with those of the company.

If the job posting lists "excellent teamwork skills" as a requirement, be sure to tell the interviewer how much you enjoy working with a team and provide an example of a time when you were successful in a team atmosphere.

If the interviewer mentions that the job would require regular travel, talk about how you travelled 70% of the time in your previous job and believe you will thrive well in the position.

One of your goals in answering this question is to convince the interviewer that you want this job because your specific skill set and experience make you an ideal candidate for the role in the company.

“Why do you want this job” example answers

Not sure how to answer this important question? Below are some of the best job interview answers for when the interviewer asks why you want the job. Customize these answers to fit your particular circumstances and the job you are applying for.

  1. I understand that this is a company on the rise. As I’ve read on your website and in various press releases, you’re planning to launch several new products in the coming months. I want to be a part of this business as it grows, and I know my experience in product development would help your company as you roll out these products.
  2. I am impressed by your company's commitment to excellence and customer service. I really appreciate a company that puts the consumer first and I would love to work with a team that prioritizes producing quality products instead of just making a profit. I read that last year, yourcompany's Customer Relations department won an award for their exceptional performance. That dedication to service resonated with me and I am excited by the prospect of working for a company that shares my values.
  3. I read an article a few months back on the outreach your company does within the community. Giving back and volunteering is a significant part of my own personal values, and I remember feeling excited that a company values the community as much as I do. That excitement grew when I saw there was a job opening in my field here. I would really love coming to work each day, knowing that I am helping to make a difference in the community through my work here. 
  4. I think my biggest priority right now in my job search is to continue building my business development skills. I took on more and more of that in my last role and enjoyed it a lot. I reviewed the job description and saw this is mentioned a lot, so I thought the position seems like not only a good fit for what I want, but a role where my skillset would be well-used and needed to meet the goals and mission of your organisation.
  5. This organization is internationally known for the technology products you create, and my experience in technology and developing new products has me intrigued by this position. I saw that last year you won multiple awards for the new processor you designed, and I would love to be on a team that is collaborative, hardworking, and resourceful.
  6. I have worked as a dental hygienist in a children’s dental office for the past six years. Not only am I experienced working with kids, but I also greatly enjoy it. Being able to work for your office, which caters to children and young adults, would allow me to continue to put my skills to use with a population I love. This is the kind of work environment I would look forward to coming to every day.
  7. I firmly believe in taking a collaborative approach to each project so when I saw a position with your company to join the production team I knew I had to apply. I've seen your work in theatrical production, and your behind-the-scenes video really inspired me because I saw the teamwork in action. I love working with a team to achieve a common goal, and I know my background in production has prepared me for this role. I look forward to becoming a valued contributor to this phenomenal team.
  8. I want to teach at Lilypad Elementary because I believe it will help me achieve my professional goal of becoming a more effective teacher. I am very impressed by the school's high standards for performance and I believe working here would really push me to improve and challenge me to continue growing. I know how many award-winning teachers have taught here and that really motivates me to push myself to meet the administration's expectations for excellence. This school has an outstanding reputation and it would truly be a privilege to work as a part of this teaching team.
  9. I have admired this company’s successful strategies and mission for years. Your emphasis on creating a relationship between your company and the surrounding community have brought you success everywhere you have opened an office. There are values I greatly admire.
  10. I am looking for a company where I not only enjoy what I am doing but I can also grow into new positions. I am very good at what I do, but in the computer field there are always new tools and technologies coming out. I want a company that allows me to learn more and expand my capabilities into new areas. The fact that you sponsor a week of training every year and that most of the people I’ve met have been here more than five years shows me that we share the same values.

NOTE: Saying “we share the same values” is a great closing line!

Common mistakes to avoid when answering “Why do you want this job?”

Here are four common mistakes you should avoid:

  • Not talking about the company: Think about it this way: You can bring your skills anywhere. The trick is explaining why you want to use them for this particular company.
  • Only saying what’s in it for you: Maybe this job would give you the chance to learn a lot about marketing, or it’s an opportunity to grow your quantitative analysis skills—that’s great, but your interviewer wants to know what’s in it for the company, too. So align your interests with and express enthusiasm for using your skills to contribute to the company’s greater goals.
  • Bringing up points that aren’t relevant: In the heat of an interview, it can be really tempting to mention that the office is actually quite close to your daughter’s school or that the company’s flexible hours policy would make it easier to carpool with your roommate, but don’t give in. These are nice perks, but (hopefully) they’re not the only reasons you find this position exciting.
  • Answering the wrong question: Have you ever gone on a date with someone who wouldn’t stop talking about their ex? Well, turns out this happens during job interviews, too. Don’t be that person who can’t shut up about why you need to leave your old job, stat. Even if the reason you’re job searching is directly related to your previous position, focus on the future.

Always remember, a great way to prepare for interview questions is to have a friend or family member pretend to be the interviewer who asks you questions while you practise your answers.

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