How to Answer "Why Do You Want This Job?" (With Examples)
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One of the most commonly asked interview questions is, "why do you want this job?" It may seem a rather basic question, but successfully answering it can leave a strong impression on the interviewer and greatly improve your chances of getting the job. There are several things to consider when thinking about how to answer this question. In this article, we examine why employers ask this question and how you can prepare your answer.
Why do interviewers ask "why do you want this job?"
When an interviewer asks "why do you want this job?", they're often looking to learn more about you in general. They may wish to find out what motivates you, what sort of values you hold and what your goal and ambitions are. Specifically, they're looking at how, as a person, you match up with the company. This includes whether your values align with those of the company and whether they can foresee you being a good fit as a committed and motivated team member.
This is one of the more important questions that can be put to you during an interview and answering it well can leave a strong impression on the interviewer and improve your chances of success. To answer this question effectively, it's important to take the time to consider it ahead of the interview.
How to answer and explain why you want the position
To properly answer this question in an interview, it's important you consider it in several different ways. Here are a few steps you can take to help prepare your answer:
1. Carry out a self-assessment
A good place to start is to take the time to consider why you wish to pursue this opportunity. Try to put aside any preconceptions you have about the ideal answer the interviewer may want to hear and focus on yourself, especially your values, motivations and ambitions. Consider your overall professional aims but focus on what you hope to achieve from this specific job, such as improved work-life balance or the opportunity for professional advancement from your current position.
Taking the time to carry out this private self-assessment and properly understanding your expectations and objectives can help you verbalise your thoughts and ideas. It can also be a good way to identify any possible reservations you may have about the position or questions you would like to ask the interviewer.
Related: How to Prepare for an Interview
2. Research the company
Providing specific details can help you give an effective answer. Take the time to research the company to understand more about the company's core values, mission and organisational objectives. Next, thoroughly review the job description for the role you're applying for. Look specifically at what they're looking for in a person and think about how you can demonstrate these characteristics.
Lastly, consider some of the practical aspects of working at the company. For example, if you're a caregiver applying to a company with a flexible or agile working policy, this working style might allow you to have a better work-life balance.
3. Consider how your values align with the company
When researching the company's values and mission, try to put your points in the context of you specifically working for them. Think about how well your personal values align with theirs and whether you can see yourself taking pride in working with them. If you feel your values align seamlessly, look for ways to demonstrate this in your job application or interview. For example, if you're applying for a job with a charity or an NGO, consider any experience you have in a similar setting, possibly as a volunteer, to show that your core beliefs and personality overlaps with the organisational identity.
Any reservations you may have about how well your values align with those of the company need not necessarily be negative. Instead, address these concerns in your interview. This way, you can show the recruiter that you have given the job a great deal of thought.
4. Consider how your skills and experience can benefit the company
Your first resource for what skills and experience the company values in a potential employee is the job description and person specification. Carefully review these documents and think of examples you can give to demonstrate that you possess these skills. Some examples may be obvious, such as required qualifications you can provide evidence for, while some might require a bit more thought and elaboration. When structuring your answer, use the STAR (situation, task, action, and result) method to create a compelling case for yourself.
5. Examine and share your goals
Think about how this job opportunity fits into your professional journey and how it aligns with your career goals. For example, it may be that the position is a step forward from your previous role and a chance for professional progression. Communicating your goals with the interviewer can help them connect with you as an individual.
If the job you're interviewing for matches well with your goals, this is an opportunity to speak enthusiastically about the position. This can be a good way to demonstrate your commitment to the company. Employers may prefer job candidates that are likely to stay employed with them over the long term as this allows them to build a powerful community within the workplace.
Tips for answering
Here are a few common tips you may consider following when answering the question "why do you want this job?':
Remain conversational: Take the time to prepare for the question and have key points in mind you wish to talk about, but remain conversational and responsive to the interview and don't simply recite an answer from memory.
Stay concise: Keep your response concise, ideally two minutes or fewer. By keeping your answer short and to the point, you may help keep the hiring manager's attention.
Focusing on yourself and the company: Salary and professional benefits may be important reasons why you want the job, but try not to focus on these in your answer. By focusing on yourself and the company's values, you can show how your experience aligns with the role.
Here are a few example answers to the question "why do you want this job?", structured around a few different elements:
Focused on the company
Here's an example answer that focuses on the company and their values as the reason for wanting the job:
"In researching this job, what attracted me to this position was the company's charitable values. It's really admirable for a company to have a mission that focuses so strongly on improving living conditions for those in the most deprived areas. I did a lot of volunteering after university before entering the public sector, and it's this sort of work that helps those less fortunate that I really find the most personally rewarding and what I would like to dedicate myself to.
Working at an organisation like yours which has a reputation for excellence in this sort of work and has the international awards and recognition to prove it would give me an immense sense of pride."
Focused on your skills
Here's an example answer that focuses on your skills and experience and how they can be a benefit to the company:
"I have extensive experience in both software design and customer-facing duties which I think make me uniquely suited to the challenges of this role. Having worked in the sector for a while, I appreciate the challenges of properly presenting the technical side of a product to people who don't necessarily have a strong technical background. My experience and training provide me with a unique skill set to face this challenge effectively and, I believe, make me a valuable member of your team."
Focused on your goals
Here's an example answer that focuses on your professional goals and ambitions and how they align with the opportunities presented by the job:
"I've been fortunate enough to have had a successful management career in my current industry, but ultimately, this is not where I wish to work. My university training was in engineering and it's in the engineering sector where I wish to work. This job would give me a great opportunity to take all the knowledge and experience I have gained in managing and motivating people and bring it to an industry I have a genuine passion for, a company I would take great pride in working for and would ultimately be the first step on what I intend to be a long career in this sector."
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