“Describe what you’re most excited about at work” is a unique interview question that many candidates aren’t prepared for. While it might not seem hard to answer from afar, it’s deceptively tricky to deal with on the spot.
This guide will teach you how to come up with an impressive response that makes the interviewer eager to learn more about you.
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The Reasons Interviewers Ask This Question
Describing what you’re excited about at work helps hiring managers determine your suitability for the position you’re interviewing for. The question seems simple at face value, but it unveils more about who you are as an employee than most realize.
This question comes down to job satisfaction and understanding what factors go into creating a positive work experience for you.
But why does that matter?
Ultimately, employers want to bring people into the company who will be naturally motivated to perform. They don’t want people who are only there for a paycheck, or worse, people who are miserable doing the job they’re hired to do. If you’re excited to come to work every day, there’s a better chance that you’ll give great effort and will stick around for much longer than if you didn’t.
Hiring a new employee is a big investment. If hiring managers have even an inkling that this position is only temporary or not a good fit for your needs, they are more likely to pass in favor of a candidate who will enjoy their time at the company. They want to invest in employees who are enthusiastic about the job and company!
Asking you to describe what you’re excited about at work helps them understand the workplace situations you enjoy and what helps you reach a high level of professional fulfillment and performance. It can also shed light on what motivates you to succeed and how you’ll fit into the work environment, company culture, and more.
There are many layers to this question, but it ultimately gives interviewers an easier way to assess how easily you’ll fit into the role while being happy and successful.
How to Answer, “Describe What You’re Most Excited About at Work”
There are many ways to approach answering this question. It’s open-ended by design, giving you the freedom to unveil the information interviewers are after in a less structured way.
So how do you deliver a knockout response that works in your favor? Here are a few tips to follow.
1. Do a Little Brainstorming
The first thing you should do is think about what makes you feel fulfilled in a job. Professional satisfaction is wholly subjective. There’s no right or wrong answer, and what motivates you may not be what motivates someone else.
The key to describing what excites you at work is to fully understand what makes you happy in a role. There are many great examples. For instance, it could be a healthy work environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork.
Alternatively, it could be having a solid work/life balance, gaining opportunities to continue developing your career, employee-sponsored benefits, or the chance to advance within the company. Those are concrete examples that many people talk about when answering this question.
Think about what matters most to you. You can even reflect on past jobs to determine what you like and don’t like. The important thing is to reflect on the things that make you leave work feeling content and accomplished.
Answering this question is not about the specific aspects of the position. You can certainly talk about certain elements of the job, such as the ability to help people or getting opportunities to work as part of a team. However, your answer should focus on what brings you the most joy.
Ideally, you’ll already know what the position entails. This question revolves around workplace satisfaction and motivation. Think beyond the day-to-day and focus on what excites you most about your work and career.
2. Find Connections Between What Excites You at Work & the Job You Want
Here’s where you need to study the job description and do your research.
While this question focuses on your satisfaction and happiness, it’s still a job interview! You still need to impress hiring managers and deliver a great answer. The best way to do that is to draw connections to the position you’re interviewing for, showing that this is a job you’ll love to do.
Examine the job description and do a deep dive to learn as much as possible about the job. You can look up similar job postings, research the company itself, and reach out to people currently working at the organization. Learn as much as you can to get a complete picture of what you can expect working there.
Then, find ways to tie what excites you, to the job you want. Think about what initially attracted you to this position and connect the dots. You may even learn more about what’s truly important to you.
Maybe this job gives you plenty of opportunities to contribute to large projects that boost the bottom line. Or perhaps it comes with the amazing opportunity to work with other high-performers who keep you motivated to succeed as much as possible.
Whatever the case, bring it up! Connect the dots for the interview and show them why this job is for you.
3. Keep Your Answer Brief
Open-ended questions can run long. There’s no hyper-focused response that will deliver the information interviewers need. As a result, many candidates find themselves rambling!
Resist the urge to give a drawn-out answer. Ideally, you should be able to discuss what excites you most about work in two minutes or less.
Keep it short and sweet. Eliminate superfluous details and cut to the chase.
This question often leads to follow-ups from the interviewer. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it could mean that you provided a compelling answer that warrants more information.
It’s better to leave room for follow-up questions than to run long. Get to the core of your response, and if the interviewer wants to learn more, they’ll ask.
Always practice your answer before you head to your interview. This isn’t a question you want to think up on the spot. It’s multi-layered and more important than simpler questions.
It deserves great thought and preparation.
Take time to develop a solid response and practice delivering it in a few ways. But you shouldn’t have a canned response that you recite verbatim. Doing that comes off as inauthentic.
Instead, know what points you want to hit when giving your answer. You can create a list of things you want to say and memorize them. Then, get comfortable talking about what excites you in a natural way.
Confidence is key here. Practice enough so that you avoid stuttering or creating long pauses. You should respond with conviction to show that you’ve thought about this question and the job.
Common Mistakes When Answering
Now that you know how to answer this question successfully, let’s talk about a few common mistakes that applicants make. Open-ended questions like this have plenty of room for error. Avoid these faux pas to ensure that your answer works in your favor.
This question is strictly about what excites you at work. Talking about personal matters will make you come off as unprofessional.
We’re talking about answers like:
“The thing that excites me most is clocking out at the end of the day. That keeps me motivated.”
That answer, and anything related to it, will do nothing but hurt you. It’s a huge red flag. You should also refrain from talking about your personal life. Stick to professional excitement!
Another thing to avoid is talking too much about money. It’s fine to bring up benefits and other things the company does to reward hard workers, but focusing your answer solely on money will come off the wrong way.
This can send a signal that you’re only there to get paid. That’s not what employers want to hear. They prefer it when candidates get real satisfaction out of their job.
Finally, avoid the answers like:
“I’m not really sure. I don’t get excited at work. I just show up, do what I’m supposed to do, and go home.”
You need to have something you’re excited about! An answer like the one above doesn’t provide any information about how you fit into the company or your ability to find happiness in the role. Plus, it comes off as ill-prepared.
There are plenty of great ways to answer this question. And while your response should be unique to your true motivations, we have a few samples to serve as inspiration and get you started.
In our first example, we have a candidate who loves working with others. This response is a knockout because it checks off all the boxes. The candidate explains why they are excited about collaborating with colleagues and how this job can fulfill their wishes.
“The thing that gets me most excited at work is the chance to collaborate as part of a team. There’s something special about working with others towards a big common goal. It’s great to see that my work contributes to the growth of the company.
Collaborating with others is something I enjoy. It makes my day and provides genuine satisfaction. Seeing the finished product always makes me feel proud.
I know that collaboration is a big deal here at [COMPANY], and I’m excited to become part of this type of team.”
Next up, we have a candidate with a more unusual response. But despite its unorthodox nature, it works perfectly for the administrative job they’re trying to land. It’s easy to connect this answer to the job, proving to hiring managers that they will get satisfaction from the role.
“This may sound odd, but staying organized and helping others accomplish their work is something that excites me. I’ve worked administrative jobs for the last several years, and I enjoy staying organized. From keeping the office uncluttered to lending a hand to others in their projects, I feel fulfilled after a long day.
I find joy in helping an office run smoothly. While my work doesn’t directly impact the bottom line, I know that doing a good job keeps the office productive. It’s my indirect way of contributing to the success of the company, and that’s why I believe that this is a role I can truly succeed in.”
Finally, we have a candidate who enjoys the prospect of a challenge. They’re interviewing for a complex role that involves substantial problem-solving. So, they use this question as an opportunity to prove to hiring managers that they have what it takes to not only succeed but thrive.
“I’ve found over the last several years that the thing that brings me the most excitement at work is the ability to challenge myself. I’ve worked a few positions that had little variation in the day-to-day routine.
I thrive in environments where I have to think creatively. I see it as a chance to push myself and further my professional development. While others dread challenges, I embrace them and revel in the opportunity to adapt and overcome any situation.
That’s one of the reasons why I was so drawn to this position. From what I’ve learned, this job keeps people on their toes! I’m excited to push myself, try new approaches, and find solutions that drive progress.”
It takes a little brainstorming to describe what you’re most excited about at work in a way that impresses your interviewer. But once you’ve developed a response you’re happy with, you’ll be amazed at the feedback you’ll receive.
Do some soul-searching, connect your excitement to the job you want, and practice.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.