“Why are you interested in this position?” is an interview question that seems simple enough, but many job-seekers approach it incorrectly.
In this guide, you’ll find out why interviewers ask this question and learn how to answer it. There are also some great example answers to get you started!
Table of contents
The Real Reason Interviewers Ask This Question
“Why are you interested in this position?” is a question that can bait you into giving an obvious and uninspiring answer. Hiring managers don’t want to hear about the fantastic location or how excellent the salary is. Those might be big motivators for applying, but you should have other reasons why this job appeals to you.
Ultimately, employers want more insight into your motivations. Is this a job you’re genuinely interested in doing, or is it something you applied to simply because there was an opening? Many people fall into the latter category, and those are the folks that hiring managers want to weed out.
When interviewers ask this question, they’re looking for individuals who find the role genuinely exciting. If you’re interested in this job and it plays a big part in your overall career goals, you’re more likely to have a variety of motivations that will result in great work. It’s not just you working for the weekend or counting the hours to get a paycheck.
It’s about ensuring that you’re there for the right reasons.
“Why are you interested in this position?” also gives you an opportunity to show that you’re aware of what the job entails. When you can give a well-thought-out response, it typically means you researched the role and are ready to tackle it head-on!
How to Answer “Why Are You Interested in This Position?”
“Why are you interested in this position?” is an interview question that’s more multifaceted than it appears at face value. Your answer says more about you than you might realize, and can make or break your chances of getting a job offer. Of all the open-ended questions the interviewer asks, this one gives them a chance to look for tons of red (and green) flags.
Here are a few tips to help you develop a strategic answer and knock it out of the park.
1. Do Your Research
The most obvious step you can take is to perform some research. You should never enter an interview knowing nothing about the company or the role. It’s not a good look and will likely take you out of the running.
You want to be well-prepared and know everything you can about the work environment you’re hoping to enter. Look into the company to understand its core mission, values, and goals. Then, research the position itself. (Use the company website, LinkedIn and search engines.)
Reread the job description multiple times to get a good grasp of what the position entails. Understand its requirements and responsibilities. You’ll likely learn new things during your research and realize you have many more questions to ask.
That’s a good thing!
Write all that information down and set some unique questions aside to ask the interviewer. That will come in handy later.
The most important thing to do during the research phase is to envision yourself in this job. Read between the job description lines to get more insight into the potential day-to-day work. Then, look at the bigger picture and consider how this role fits your broader aspirations.
Your research will benefit you in more ways than simply preparing for this question. It’ll help you find out what interests you about the position, and if it’s something you genuinely want to pursue. Everything you learn matters!
2. Be Clear & Specific About What You’re Looking For
After you know more about the company and position, you can start thinking about why you’re interested in applying for this position in the first place. One great way to do that is to talk about specific things you’re looking for from a new job. For example, the position might present opportunities to learn new skills, open doors for career advancements, or give you the chance to put your qualifications to the test.
Whatever the case, there should be a clear and concise reason why this position jumped out to you in your search. Figure out what that is, and you’ll have no trouble coming up with a fantastic response. Don’t be afraid to get specific with your answer.
“Why are you interested in this position?” is asked by interviewers because they want to learn what makes you tick. They want to know precisely why you pursued this opportunity and not others in your field. Talk about those reasons and discuss whatever it was that made you interested in applying in the first place!
3. Find an Opportunity to Mention Your Skills
It always pays to bring up your skills and qualifications! This step is a cinch when you know the position inside and out.
Think back on your work experience and the skills that brought you to this point. Talk about how everything in your career has prepared you for this job. Highlight the most relevant skills to the position, and go into detail about how they can benefit the company.
Your goal should be to draw the line from your resume to the job description. The interview already has a good idea that you’re a relatively good fit. “Why are you interested in this position?” gives you a chance to cement that connection further and leave no shadow of a doubt.
Describe how your experiences, skills, and interest in the role will help you succeed.
4. Connect It to the Position You’re Applying For
Always aim to connect your answer back to what the position requires. It goes back to figuring out what drew you to this role and how your skills fit into the equation.
For example, maybe it was the chance to lead a team that initially sparked your interest. Talk about that and mention how your years of working under other leaders prepared you for this unique challenge. You could say that you were looking for a chance to further your career, and this position seems like a fantastic opportunity to grow with a new company with values that align with your own.
Keep that goal of connecting the dots in your mind when developing an answer. If you do this effectively, you won’t have trouble convincing the interviewer that you’re the best candidate for the job.
5. Practice Before the Interview
Finally, don’t forget to practice! Give yourself plenty of time to think about this question and develop an appropriate response. Practice with others, and don’t be afraid to set up a mock interview to get comfortable speaking with confidence.
There’s no need to recite an answer verbatim. Doing so could sound too rehearsed, which can be just as bad as not preparing at all. Instead, determine which points you want to make and find ways to speak organically.
What to Avoid When Giving Your Answer
“Why are you interested in this position?” holds a lot of weight when it comes to the outcome of your interview, so you want to take time to get things right. Now that you understand how to develop a memorable answer, here are a few things to avoid saying.
The Obvious Answer
No matter how many times you’ve heard this, it deserves another mention. Never say, “I needed a job.” That’s an obvious answer that goes without saying.
Remember: Hiring managers want to know that you’re in it for more than the money. Giving this response is a giant red flag.
Explain precisely what interests you in this position. When you answer with something vague, it gives off the impression that you either don’t know much about the job or are disinterested.
Do your research, and you’ll have all the ammo you need to get specific.
Talking about money isn’t a wise choice. The salary could be a big motivator, but hiring managers don’t want to hear that when they ask this question. Keep that detail to yourself and focus on other exciting things about the job.
There is one exception to this. If you are pursuing a job in sales, you may be motivated by making money. Companies with sales roles tend to want people who are driven to meet goals and make money. Including this as one of your reasons in answering “why are you interested in this position” can work in your favor.
Your answer should feel passionate and motivated. If you sound like you don’t care what kind of job you get, most hiring managers will pull you from the running.
It’s easy to creep into negative territory. When discussing what’s exciting about a new job prospect, you might be tempted to compare it to your old position. But try not to. Even if you do make comparisons, resist the urge to badmouth previous employers or colleagues.
Focus on the positives about what interests you instead!
Try not to lean too heavily on your own personal or professional growth. Those are great details to bring up, but try to talk about the company as well. Everyone wants to further their career, but why is this specific job and company your path to do that?
Mention the company to show that you’ve done your research and want to contribute to the organization’s bottom line, too.
Last but not least, avoid rambling. Some candidates inadvertently resort to rambling when they don’t know what to say. It’s the “throw everything at the wall until something sticks” approach.
You can easily avoid this mistake by thinking about your response early and doing your research.
“Why are you interested in this position?” is asked because it can yield a variety of answers from candidates. Your reasons for pursuing this job are unique to you, there’s no universally correct answer, and everyone’s response will differ. But despite this, coming up with an answer can still be tricky.
To inspire your response, take a look at these example answers.
In our first example, the applicant wants to land a leadership role. This is a good response because they provide specific details about what piqued their interest in the role. Then, they talk about past experiences and what skills they plan to bring to the table.
It does a fine job of explaining what led the applicant to this point.
“What interested me in this position was the opportunity to lead a team. At this stage in my career, I’m looking to continue building my project management and leadership skills. Your job description emphasized team leadership and the ability to take on large-scale projects, and it seems like the perfect fit.
In my last job, I spent several years leading a small team of six while managing projects with seven-figure budgets. I would like to use that expertise here and contribute to the company’s goals in any way possible. I’m eager to expand my horizons and grow at [COMPANY] while continuing to hone my skills.”
Our second example is a little different. The applicant is less interested in learning new skills than wanting to push their capabilities further with new and exciting challenges. The answer works because it highlights their skills and details what they want to do in this new position.
“I’m most interested in this position because of its challenges. Reading the job description, I understand that the person hired for this role will be responsible for increasing production numbers by the end of the year. Your company has set ambitious goals, and I admire the change leadership is pursuing.
In my next job, I want to set realistic yet challenging goals that push my skills further. Your company’s goals resonate with me and my aspirations of doing more in my career.
During my final year at my previous position, I helped boost my company’s sales figures by around 30 percent. I’m motivated to have a similar, if not better, impact here. I’m excited about the opportunity to gain new work experiences and push myself further while helping [COMPANY] achieve its goals.”
The final example we’re providing focuses on taking big career steps. The applicant is an architect who wants to work on more significant projects with a more established company. They hope to grow in this new position while furthering their career trajectory in the process.
“I’ve spent the last decade working with a small firm. While I enjoy working on small-scale residential projects, I feel ready for a new challenge. At this stage in my career, I’m looking to use my technical expertise on larger-scale projects that have a bigger impact on the community.
Your company has completed multi-million dollar projects that have shaped this city for the better. The prospect of being part of this illustrious team interested me most in this position. The chance to put my skills to the test and broaden my experiences a bit is exciting.”
Answering “why are you interested in this position?” requires a bit of soul-searching and preparation, but it’s worth it. Applicants who give a strong answer to this question have a far better chance of getting hired than those who don’t!
Do the work, and this question will become yet another opportunity to make a fantastic impression.
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.