How to answer: 'Why do you want this job?' during an interview

By Robert Half 10th June 2019

One of the most common interview questions you might be asked is ‘Why do you want this job?’. It’s one of the most obvious interview questions during a job interview, and your response can mean the difference between landing the job, or not.

Among the usual type of questions asked during an interview, including ‘tell me about yourself’, ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ and ‘what is your greatest weakness’ it’s essential you can effectively communicate why you are interested in the job.

Let’s go through some key considerations of what to expect in a job interview when answering ‘Why do you want this job?’.

1. When to expect the question

  • It’s more likely to be asked early during the interview, cropping up before or after ‘What do you know about the company?’ and ‘Tell us a little about yourself.’
  • The question itself may be worded in a slightly different way, such as ‘Why did you apply for the role?’ or ‘Tell us why you’d like to work for us?’
  • Even if the question comes up earlier than expected, remember that you have multiple opportunities throughout the interview to relate to it and can simply approach it by saying ‘I meant to say this earlier on…’ or ‘That’s another reason I’m interested in this role.’

2. What does this interview question mean?

Let’s dig further into ‘Why do you want this job?’ by understanding the question a bit more. The question itself is a good way for the interviewer to get to know you, so don’t worry if it comes across as quite upfront. You may want to consider these three things when thinking about how to answer for a job interview:

  • How the role fits into your career plan 
  • How it will develop and challenge your skills
  • Why the company appeals to you 

When you relate what to expect in a job interview back to the question, you may want to think about the kind of person, from the company’s perspective, that they want to hire for the role. 

This will more often than not be someone… 

  • Who provides added value to the team 
  • Who is willing to learn and grow in the position 
  • Who is driven and passionate about the company’s business goals

3. How to prepare for the question

The points below will keep you headed in the right direction when preparing your answer to ‘Why do you want this job?’ prior to the interview.

The company and the job: During your prep, match your skills to the role, understand how the role will benefit you and what the company has to offer. You might also want to think about what to expect in a job interview concerning the company and the industry:

  • What are the company’s values or is the mission something you are passionate about? Have there been any recent changes to the company’s services or product?
  • Do you have any industry-specific, specialist knowledge that applies to the role?

Tip: Check up on any upcoming industry regulations or changes that apply to the company too!

Your experience and achievements: The likelihood of getting the job can sometimes depend on your prior experience and what you have achieved in previous roles. This will provide the interviewer with insight into your skills which is incredibly important to relate back to the question. You can go into more details of your experience and skills when you answer for a job interview, such as:

  • Is there a recent achievement you can talk about or a challenge you've faced?
  • Do you intend to go on any learning or development courses that relate to the role? 
  • How will this add value to the role, the team and the company?

What do you bring to the role: To demonstrate why you want the job a good answer for a job interview is to run through what you may bring to the role outside of skills and experience. This will be things like communication or emotional intelligence. Soft skills are highly valued and convey to the interviewer how well you will function within the team.

  • Give an example of when you’ve had to show emotional intelligence or resilience?
  • How would you handle change with this role?

The “right” fit: A key thing for managers to consider when adding a new person to the team is the cultural fit. It’s important to make sure the new hire is the right fit for the team and the wider company culture. 

  • Are there any aspects of this job you want to highlight that excites you?
  • What made you want to send in your CV when looking at the job specifications? 

4. How to answer the question

The examples below offer different ways to start answering ‘Why do you want this job?’. When speaking, answer calmly and as clearly as you can. Remember that you are simply giving the reasons why you want the job and why you would be a good fit for the company.

  • 'This opportunity is really exciting for me as I will be able to…'
  • 'I see the role as a way of developing my career in a forward-thinking/well-established company/industry as…'
  • 'I feel I will succeed in the role because I have experience in/softs skills that demonstrate/ I’ve taken this course…'
  • 'I believe my skills are well-suited to this job because…”

5. Be careful of these interview mistakes

Below are a few examples of what not to say when answering the question. These examples are here to help you avoid answering in a way that is certain to decrease your chances of being offered a second interview or the job.

  1. 'I need a job' – this comes across as quite a desperate answer and lacking in regard for the job and the company, you need to be able to say why you are right for the role to prove your value.
  2. 'The money appealed to me' – this can place harsh emphasis on your motivation to apply for the role. Salary and benefits are key things to consider when looking for a role, but by discussing this so early on may damage your profile. 
  3. 'This is a great step for me before my next career move' – this is a big red flag to a hiring manager if you already show an intention to move on from the role before you’ve even got it.

The interview

You’ll have a pretty good idea now on the type of questions asked during an interview that are similar to ‘Why do you want this job?’ and also the questions that are likely to come afterwards. The good thing about your response with help from our five step strategy is that there are a range of ways to answer for a job interview. As long as you know why you applied for the role and are able to demonstrate why you are right for the role, the rest should come very easily and clearly for you to communicate. With that in mind, prepare well in advance of the interview and good luck!

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