“Why do you want this job?” is a common interview question that seems straightforward. But don’t let it fool you! This question can be surprisingly tricky.
This guide will teach you how to answer this question in a way that leaves a great impression on the interviewer.
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The Reason Interviewers Ask “Why Do You Want This Job?”
“Why do you want this job?” is a question that you can expect to encounter during any job interview. It doesn’t matter what position you’re going for or what industry it’s in. You’re bound to hear it at some point.
But despite how frequently hiring managers ask it, this question often catches candidates off-guard. In many cases, it can cost otherwise qualified candidates their opportunity!
Many people don’t get this question “right” because they focus on the wrong thing. Contrary to how it might sound, this isn’t only about why you want a specific job. It’s about why you want to work for this particular company.
Interviewers ask this question for a couple of reasons. It can help them ascertain what you want out of a job and whether or not you’re a good fit for the company. But more importantly, it highlights what you bring to the table, how much you know about the organization, and whether your goals align with its missions.
Hiring managers want to know that you’re serious about this job opportunity and have the drive to succeed. There’s a stark difference between doing the job and performing your best. Your answer to this question tells the interviewer that working at the company is about more than simply getting a paycheck.
It tells them why you think this particular job is right for you.
How to Answer
“Why do you want this job?” can be challenging to answer. Interviewers want to know more about you and what you feel you can contribute to the bigger picture. It’s an opportunity to talk about your successes while emphasizing your knowledge about the organization.
Here are a few tips on how to answer this question effectively.
1. Do Your Research
The first tip is to do research. “Why do you want this job?” is a question you want to be prepared for, so it’s best to do a little work ahead of time.
What should you research? Learn as much as you can about the company and position you’re interviewing for. Hiring managers want to bring in people who know what they’re in for and are genuinely interested in succeeding.
Check out the company website and read up on as many published news reports and PR articles as possible. Reach out to current and ex-employees you know who work there and ask them what they like and don’t like about the company. The goal is to learn more about what this company stands for. You want to fully understand its core values and mission to connect them with your own career goals.
2. Explain What You’re Looking For & Why It Fits Into Your Career Path
The last thing you want to do is make this opportunity look like a stepping stone or hold over until you get a better offer. No hiring manager wants to bring someone on who doesn’t care about the job or is clearly only interested in getting a paycheck. People who have natural motivations beyond money are the ones who are bound to flourish.
One way you can answer “Why do you want this job?” is to explain what you’re looking for out of a job opportunity. This step may take some extra thought and preparation. Do some self-reflection and jot down a list of things you want out of your dream job.
Make a note of all the things you want to achieve and your expectations.
From there, you can make the connection as to why this job supports your larger ambitions—detail how it fits into your career path and what it can do for you.
You don’t have to tell the interviewer that you plan on being at the company for a long time. The goal is to show why this position makes sense to you at this moment. What will it do for you, and why does it make sense for the foreseeable future?
Every job is a chance to hone your skills and take one step closer to your ideal working situation. Figuring out how this job plays into that will give you all the information you need to provide a clear-cut answer.
3. Tell Them Why You’ll Be a Good Fit for the Job
Here’s where you get to paint your potential in a positive light!
In addition to talking about how this job fits your bigger picture, tell the hiring manager why you’re a good fit. The best way to do that is to connect your existing skills and experience to the job description. Before you even enter the interview, review the job posting thoroughly.
Draw those lines to your own experience, and establish why you’re the best candidate for this role.
Talk about how your strengths have supported the company’s bottom line in the past or how you improved productivity, efficiency, or made an impact in some way. The best way to highlight your achievements is to use STAR stories. They clearly need help with this open position and your past successes are proof you can do it for them too.
Tell them exactly why you’re the person they need. Don’t be afraid to go into detail and talk about what you can bring to the table.
4. Share That You’re Excited About the Job & Being Involved with the Company
Finally, don’t forget to express your continued interest. Remember that interviewers want to know that you’re legitimately interested in finding success within this role. The more you talk about how eager you are to be a part of the company, the better.
“Why do you want this job?” is an opportunity to show that you fully understand what you’re in for. Go back to the research you did earlier, and bring up points that show you know what the job entails.
For example, you could talk about how thrilled you are to be working face-to-face with customers again if the job involves customer service. Or, you could mention how you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to be a part of a collaborative team if the job requires group projects.
Reinforce your interest, and don’t let the interviewer doubt for a second that you’ve thought this through. You know this is a job you want, so let them know during your interview.
Mistakes to Avoid
Now that you have a better idea of how to answer “Why do you want this job?” successfully, let’s talk about some faux pas. Believe it or not, this question can be a deal-breaker for some interviewers.
Here are some mistakes you want to avoid when planning an answer.
Don’t Focus Too Much on Your Needs
Here’s what many interviewers consider a red flag. It’s fine to talk about your needs. In fact, doing so can give the hiring manager insight into what you’re thinking and why you want this job.
But keep those details brief! The point here is to talk about what you have to contribute to the company. What’s in it for the organization if they bring you on?
You must remember to talk about the company. Your skills can apply anywhere else, and there are likely multiple job openings for something similar in the area. When you answer this question, you need to tell the interviewer why you want to harness your skills to benefit this company.
This question is the perfect chance to drive the point home why you’re the ideal candidate. Talk about the company, express your enthusiasm, and leave no doubt that you’re the right person for the role.
Avoid Bringing Up Things That Aren’t Relevant to the Job
When you reflected on why you wanted this job, you likely had some reasons that weren’t very relevant to the position. For example, it might have a fantastic commute or flexible hours you’ve always dreamed of having. Even if those are significant deciding factors for you, avoid bringing them up.
Remember, this isn’t totally about you. Your personal reasons are irrelevant, and they shouldn’t be the only thing that excites you. It’s better to focus on the job, the culture, or the company and leave those details out of the equation.
Don’t Dwell on Details That Don’t Answer the Question
“Why do you want this job?” is an interview question that can draw out many less-than-stellar answers. Don’t be one of the applicants that makes this mistake!
You want to avoid rambling about why you’re leaving your current job. Think hard about the question at hand and spend your time talking about that.
Going Over Points the Interviewer Already Knows
There’s nothing wrong with connecting the dots and telling the interviewer why your skills are best utilized at this organization. However, you should avoid simply rehashing your resume.
The hiring managers already know those fine details. They’re what got you to this point in the hiring process! Be more selective about what you talk about and choose parts of your work history that are most relevant to this opportunity.
Don’t Be Flippant
Last but not least, don’t provide flippant answers. For example, you shouldn’t bring up the excellent salary or shrug your shoulders and say you are simply looking for a job.
A quick answer like that is a surefire way to get you off the shortlist.
Best Sample Answers
Everybody’s answer to “Why do you want this job?” is unique, so there isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to structuring your response. You have to think hard, do your research, and plan to come up with an answer that represents yourself well.
All that said, some great example answers can guide you in the right direction.
Sample Answer #1
This first example answer shows that you know a lot about the company. It also explicitly tells the interviewer what skills you’ll use to succeed in this role.
“I’m impressed by what this company has done in the last couple of years, and I understand that it will continue to grow. I recently read that you’re on the cusp of launching several new product lines. I’m eager to become a part of that, and I feel like my experience in product design will contribute to your larger goals of dominating the market.”
Sample Answer #2
This following sample answer shows excitement and in-depth knowledge of the company. But, it also highlights skills and briefly touches on experience.
“This job interests me because it’ll allow me to work face-to-face with customers. I have several years of customer service experience, and I’ve been a regular patron of your retail store for quite some time. The opportunity to apply my skills and be a part of a company I believe in is something that excites me.”
Sample Answer #3
Next, we have an example that’s about furthering skills. It tells the interviewer how this job fits into larger career goals while still displaying an eagerness to be a part of the organization.
“I want this job at [COMPANY] because it will challenge me to become a more effective project manager and leader. I’m continually impressed by the impactful work your organization does.
I’ve spent several years operating as part of a team, and I believe that my award-winning work is a great addition. I’m ready to take on more responsibility and use my organizational skills to continue the history of excellence this company is known for. You have an outstanding reputation, and it would be a privilege to apply my skills as part of this team.”
Now that you know how to answer “Why do you want this job?” the next time you’re asked it during an interview, there’s no reason why you can’t use it as an opportunity to set yourself apart.
Reference our tips and sample answers, spend some time practicing, and you’ll do great!
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.