How to Answer: “Why Do You Want This Job?”

Ahh, the universally dreaded interview questions: “What is your biggest weakness,” “What bad thing would your last boss say about you,” and…“Why do you want this job?”

Why do you want this job

This question can come in a variety of forms, including:

  • Why are you interested in the company?
  • Why would you like to work at our company?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why this company?
  • What interests you about this job?
  • Why are you interested in this position?

But make no mistake—they’re all asking the same thing. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this question is that the interviewer isn’t even really asking for your thoughts on why you want this job. Instead, when recruiters ask this question (or some variant of it), what they really want to know is, “What is it about this company and position that interests you, and what assets can you bring to us?”

Which, as you’ll see, requires a much different answer than the question might at first suggest. It makes sense that potential employers want to invest their time and resources in someone who will contribute something positive to the company. All candidates presumably want a job to make money—but not all candidates are willing to take their talents and make something of them in the position for which they are applying. It’s your responsibility, when asked this question, to effectively communicate why you want (and how you can contribute to) that job specifically…not just any old job. How to do that?

Research

And by “research,” I mean going beyond a basic Google search. Really show the interviewer you’re not just mass job searching (even if you are!) by reading more about the company than simply the job post. Check out their website; look at their social media pages; deduce what the company culture is, beyond just what they do. Then match those findings to your applicable strengths and highlight those parallels to show what you can bring to them. Showing a genuine interest in who they are as a company will help you stand out from the crowd…in a good way.

Know What They Want

Researching the company beforehand gives you insight into their particular methods and quirks, which will definitely give you certain advantages in the interview process. But no matter what company you’re applying to, all employers are looking for a handful of similar things in a candidate. Namely, that you’re enthusiastic about the company and position; if you’re hired, you’re going to stay at the company for a long time; and you’ll get along well with those team members who are already working there. Find ways, based on your own strengths and experiences, to communicate those things to your interviewer and it’ll go a long way toward reassuring them that you’re the best candidate for the position.

Go Beyond Your Qualifications

Presumably, you are qualified to apply to the position for which you just got an interview. It’s safe to assume, then, that all the candidates that the company has called in for interviews are similarly qualified. You don’t want to focus, then, on the exactly background and experience that makes you qualified. All you’ll be doing is wasting time reiterating something the interviewer already knows. Instead, focus on something about the specific position that appeals to you on a personal or professional level. Is it a chance to work directly with customers again? Is it an opportunity to tackle new projects every day? Choose something you can be genuinely excited about and that enthusiasm will naturally shine through in your answer.

Put Business Before Self

Although the question, “Why do you want this job?” seems to focus on your desires as an individual, it’s really a clever way of asking how you, as an individual, can help the company. So think about ways in which hiring you would positively impact the company as a whole, then use those ways to discuss how you can help the company achieve its goals. After all, contributing to the success of a company makes everyone look good!

If nothing else, just remember: never bring up the salary, commute, or hours as reasons you want the job. For this particular question, it’s much better to highlight what you can do for the company than what the company can do for you.

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