When we’re looking for a new job, sometimes we get carried away and apply to several just to see what happens. We’re told to cast a wide net right? Sometimes that leads to an interview that you didn’t fully expect, and you’re going to be asked what should be an obvious question, “why do you want this job?”
A good answer to this interview question will get across your knowledge and passion, and convince the interviewer that you deliberately sought out this job at this company in this industry.
Why Do They Ask This Question?
This question is probably more of a weed-out question rather than a question that you’re likely to gain massive points from. If you approach the question that way, it makes more sense as to why the interviewers are really asking this interview question.
Interviewers are looking for lots of things when they ask their questions.
- Do I like them?
- Is this person qualified?
- Will they be a productive member of my team?
- How much time will I have to invest in them before they are productive?
- Will they be a reliable employee?
This last one is probably what’s on the interviewers mind when they ask this question. What I mean by “reliable” is that the candidate will consistently deliver on work, and will be around long enough for the company to benefit from the time investment of hiring them.
Consider it from the hiring manager’s perspective. A candidate who is extremely interested in the industry and want’s to grow their knowledge through experience is a candidate that will be motivated to learn, grow, and contribute simply due to their internal motivations. These are also employees who are less likely to leave instantly for monetary reasons do to their internal motivations.
This question comes down to understanding the candidates motivations, because that tells the interviewer quite a bit about what that candidate would be like as an employee. This isn’t always the case of course, but it’s a major contributing factor as to why a hiring manager might ask this question.
Things To Avoid With Your Response
Maybe you hate your current job and are just looking to get out of a toxic work environment. Maybe you just want a paycheck and you applied to dozens jobs that you felt like you could do. These are just two of a countless number of reasons why you might have applied for this position. Thinking back to the why they ask this question though, any reason that doesn’t highlight a positive motivation from you is something you want to avoid.
If you just want a job that pays, your motivation is money (obviously). But if your motivation is solely money, the hiring manager isn’t going to feel great about hiring you. If you applied to this company because you love the company, it doesn’t really benefit the hiring manager. Just because you like the company doesn’t mean you’ll be a productive member of any team.
That gets into the main thing you should probably avoid, and it’s a little counterintuitive, but you want to avoid simply talking about what you want. To be blunt, they don’t care what you want, they care what they want. They just want you to want what they want. So avoid selfish motivators when answering this question. So if you’re not supposed to talk about what you want out of this job, what are you supposed to talk about?
Things To Include In Your Answer
The answer to “why do you want this job” is to let the interviewer know that this is the job that you sought out, not just one of 30 other jobs you pulled off Indeed or LinkedIn. They need to know that there’s something about this job that interests you and made you pick it out of the hundreds of other jobs that you could have applied to.
Why have you always wanted to work at this company? why do you love the company culture? Who do you know that works here and has convinced you to come aboard? This is your opportunity to make them feel special, like they’re not one of three other interviews this week.
Talking about why you are interested in the company and the position is just the warmup though. If they were going to hire a person because they liked the company, they’d hire every candidate. You also need to sprinkle in that what you really want is to add value to this company. You can honestly use some of the same lines from your hard sell:
“From my understanding, the candidate you’re looking for to fill this job role needs to be resourceful, motivated, and a quick learner, which are all skills that I’ve demonstrated within my current job position and that I would be looking forward to improve upon in this new role”
The trick here when answering the question of why you want the job, is to convince them that you don’t just want to work here, but that what you want is to add value to a company that you’re proud of, in an industry that you’re passionate about.
You need to convince them that your interests are aligned, and that by you getting what you want, they will also be getting what they want, and that is somebody who is skilled, will add continuous value to the team, and will be a leader in the company. Convince them of this, and you’re sure to stand out among the other candidates when answering this interview question.
Although this is a common and fairly simple interview question, there are quite a few related questions that you’ll want to know about before crafting your answer. You want to use each question properly to paint a full picture across your whole interview, and if you know that these other questions might be asked, you’ll be in a better spot to give a clear and beneficial answer that is congruent with the rest of your interview.
Why Should We Hire You?
Frequently candidates will confuse these two questions, or have a similar answer. The thought process being that if you’re super interested in the job, then that will make the interviewer want to hire you; this is flawed logic to say the least. I go over this in much more detail when talking about how you should answer “why should we hire you”, but just understand that “why do you want this job” is [somewhat] about what you want, where “why should we hire you” is about what’s the company wants.
Why Do You Want To Work Here?
This is probably the most common variation on the question “why do you want this job”. Your response really won’t change too much, but you might be thrown off a little bit. One is asking for your thoughts on the company and one is asking for your thoughts on the specific job role. Really, both variations should include your interest in the company and industry as a way to show your overall interest, preparation, and knowledge, but this variation is likely going to include less details about the specific job position.
What interests you about this industry?
This is another one of the variations you might get. Whereas “why do you want this job” focuses specifically on the specific job listing and company, this variation will force you to display your high level knowledge of the industry as a whole. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about how this company and job fit into the industry, but this variation requires a bit more knowledge to answer well. For that reason, this variation is also more of an opportunity to impress the interviewer with your knowledge more so than simply why you’re interested in the job position.
Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?
This one might not seem very similar, but hear me out. The reason I believe they are somewhat similar is because there’s quite a bit of overlap in the purpose of the question, as in what the interviewer is really interested in. Both questions seek to figure out how likely you are to stay at this company long term, rather than simply joining for a few month before hopping somewhere else. Regardless of your plan, it’s a good idea to project the idea that this job/company is something that really interests you and that you’ll be around for a while.
What Are Your Career Goals?
I said it earlier, but they don’t care what you want, they care what they want. They just want you to want what they want. That’s really the primary purpose of any question about your goals as well. They want to know that your goals align with their goals, in the same way that they want you to want what they want. At a high level you might think that you want money and they want labor, and while this is true, they want to hear about how you have a strong motivation to continue on in this industry and provide value at this company, because that aligns with what they want as well.
“Why do you want this job” is really a question about motivation. The interviewer is interested in what motivates you. They want to know this because that’s going to give them an idea around what you’ll be like as an employee and if they can rely on you being a productive member of this team long term.
To craft a good answer to this interview question, you’ll want to avoid any selfish or surface level wants, and instead focus on your interest and knowledge of the industry and job position. Additionally you’ll want to show them that you’re interested in providing value and that you have an internal motivation around learning and growing in this industry at this company. You should express the idea that you applied to this job at this company in this industry very deliberately, because that will give them ease of mind that you’re a reliable hire.
There are several other questions that they might ask in addition, or instead of this question. Remember to view your entire interview holistically and use this question as an opportunity to get across anything to the interviewer that you haven’t already in a different interview question.
Above all, this is mostly a weed-out question, so when in doubt simply get through the question by avoiding anything that will throw a red flag for the interviewer. You’re not likely to gain many points from this interview question, but a good response will let the interviewer know that you’re a passionate and knowledgeable potential employee who could be relied upon if you were to be hired.