The question ‘Why do you want this job?’ is at the centre of any job interview. An interviewer will be trying to ascertain whether or not you are a good fit for the role which will involve working out what your motivations are.
Recruiting can be an expensive process so your interviewer will want to get it right. Candidates who are just trying to secure any job possible will quickly become obvious and won’t be viewed as a good prospect for a long-term hire. Those candidates who demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the role and the wider industry, and can explain how this role fits into their long-term career plan are much more likely to impress.
While preparing for interview questions, working out an answer to this question in particular is the ideal starting point. Having a clear sense of why you want the job in your own mind will lay the foundations for the rest of your answers. It will also make it much easier to articulate why you want the job to others. So, even if your interviewer doesn’t ask ‘Why do you want this job?’ directly, spending some time preparing an answer will be beneficial to your preparation.
This is also a question overlooked by many candidates, so make sure you take the opportunity to impress your interviewers.
What are they looking for?
Your interviewer can find out a lot about you with this simple question. Their main goal will be to gain a sense of the motivation behind your application for the role and how it fits into your long-term career plan. Are you genuinely interested in the role and likely to be in it for the long haul? Or is this just a stopgap until something better comes along?
They will be on the lookout for candidates who are knowledgeable about the company and the wider industry. If you haven’t done any research, it will seem as though you aren’t really interested.
They will also be looking for candidates whose long-term goals align with those of the company. Will a job at the company allow you to progress in the areas that you indicate you are interested in? If not, they may think twice about hiring you as it’s unlikely they’ll be able to keep you for very long.
How to answer ‘Why do you want this job?’
Taking the above into account, a good answer to this question will demonstrate three things:
- Your enthusiasm for the company and wider industry
- That you have the right skills and/or experience for the job
- How this fits into your long-term career plan
Step 1: Before you can talk fluently about the company, you’ll need to do the research. Start with the company website and see if you can find any information on current projects. A quick Google search will help pick out any recent news stories they’ve been involved in. Take a look at their competitors too – this should give you an idea as to where they sit within the industry.
Use this information to hone in on any news or projects that you’re particularly interested in and that relate to the role.
Step 2: Explain how your skills and experience make you the right person for the job and, if possible, in the context of the projects you’ve mentioned in step 1.
It’s useful to refer to the job description while carrying out this step. Try to focus on skills that are central to the role. By focusing on these, you show that you have a real grasp of what the role will entail.
Make sure you remember to frame all your answers in the context of what you can do for the company rather than what they can do for you. Focus on how your skills will add value to the company and its current and future projects – and how excited you are about the prospect.
Step 3: A great way to conclude your answer is to emphasize how this is the natural next step for you. This is a good time to hint that you see a long-term future at the company and avoid giving the impression that the role is just getting you ready for something bigger and better somewhere else.
‘This role particularly caught my eye due to the fact that I’ve seen the company cropping up increasingly in industry news. It’s clearly a company on the up and that’s a very exciting prospect. The need to recruit more management staff is therefore understandable. This particular role is the sort of progression that I’ve been looking for from my current role. The team I’d be managing is more specialist and in an area that I have a great deal of experience and interest in.’
Why we like this answer: The candidate clearly demonstrates their interest in the industry by mentioning that they keep up with industry-specific news. They also express enthusiasm for the company and the direction it is heading in. Their own desire for career progression matches up with the needs of the company.
‘I am particularly excited by the work that you’re doing to make your engines more efficient. I have always been passionate about the environment so this project is particularly inspiring for me. I have been looking for an opportunity where I can expand on the work I did in my previous role. Your more ambitious targets would certainly allow me to do that.’
Why we like this answer: This candidate has made sure that they have identified a company goal relevant to their experience and the role they applied for. The role itself seems to be a natural progression from their previous job and they appear to be very driven.
What not to say
- Be careful not to give the impression that you’re just looking for any job you can get. If you tell them that you just need employment from somewhere and it doesn’t really matter what the job is, they will have doubts about your commitment.
- The same applies for telling your interviewer that you need the money. Of course, money is important, however, focus on the role rather than the salary in your interview.
- Don’t focus your answer on what the company can do for you, make sure all your answers focus on the value you add for them.
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