How To Answer “Why Did You Apply For This Position?” (Interview Question)

why did you apply for this position

You’re in the interview and they ask, “so, why did you apply for this position?”

What do you say? Fortunately you’re about to find out exactly what to say in this scenario to impress them.

Here are the steps to follow when answering the question.

How To Answer “Why Did You Apply For This Position?”

Step 1:

Explain what you’re looking for in your job search (something specific that will advance your career, etc.)

Step 2:

Tell them something you noticed about THEIR job

Step 3:

Tie steps 1 and 2 together and explain how their job fits what you’re looking for in your career. It’s even better if you also show them how your previous skills will help THEM if they hire you (“I was reading the job description and noticed you mention ___ a few times. This is really exciting to me because ___, and my past experience with ___ will help me contribute immediately in this group”)

It really is that simple. If you use the formula above you’ll ace this question, for a few reasons:

  1. You’re showing them you understand the job and took some time to research. They want to hire someone who wants THEIR job, not just any job. So this is a great thing to be able to show them.
  2. You’re showing them that you’re targeting specific things in your search. Again, this reinforces that you’re not desperate, and you’re being selective. This shows that you care about your career, which they’ll love. Why? Because it means you’re more likely to work hard, put effort into learning, and stay a while (if the job is good!)
  3. You’re reminding them how you can help them, rather than just talking about what you need.

Let’s look at a word-for-word example now…

Example Answer For “Why Did You Apply For This Position?”

“Great question. Right now I’m looking for more leadership, since I’ve been in my current position for 4 years managing projects across our department. I saw on your job description that this person you hire will manage 4-5 projects, and will also have the chance to train a team of their own in the future and get into direct management. That’s something that excites me a lot, and unfortunately my company can’t offer that right now, so that’s a major reason that I wanted to apply for this job in particular. I think my past experience leading projects would help me contribute immediately in this role. Can you tell me more about what type of leadership role that this position can grow into in the long run?”

As a bonus, you can end your question with a question of your own. I did that in the example above. It’s one of the strategies I recommend in my job interview answer guide because it turns the interview into a back-and-forth dialogue, instead of a nerve-racking interrogation.

Why ending your answer with a question works so well:

  1. The hiring manager will start to see you as a colleague and someone they can picture themselves working with
  2. They’ll respect you more.
  3. You’ll seem like a more in-demand candidate because you’re asking great questions and evaluating them, not just trying to get the first job you’re offered
  4. It’ll make the whole interview more conversational and less like an interrogation. The result? You’ll feel a whole lot calmer and less stressed. Which means you’ll give way better answers.

Now, before I wrap up this article, let’s cover a few mistake and things to avoid:

What NOT to do when answering “Why did you apply for this job?”

Don’t…

  • Make it seem like you don’t care what type of job you get
  • Make it seem like you applied for every position out there, without reading or learning about the position
  • Make it seem like you don’t know anything about their company. You should never go into an interview without knowing what their company does, how they make money, etc. If you don’t know this stuff, you don’t deserve the job (and you proably won’t get it).
  • Tell them you don’t know or aren’t sure
  • Give any reason that’s about your personal needs… like needing more money, shorter commute, etc. Keep it focused on their needs and your career growth (try to balance both). That’s it.
  • Badmouth your previous or current company. Just don’t do it. Talk about the positives you want to GAIN in your next job, not what you’re looking to escape in your current job if you have one. That’s a rule you can follow in any of the interview answers you give.

So that’s it, now you know how to answer:

  • “Why did you apply for this particular position?”
  • “Why did you want to apply for this job?”

And every other similar question they’ll ask you in your interview.

Note: you can also use this same 3-step formula to answer “Why do you want this job?”

It’s a slightly different question but the exact same technique works to answer it. If you need more help with that question, the link above will take you to a separate article with a video to help you.

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