“Why did you choose this career?” …
You’re likely to hear this interview question whether you’re a recent graduate or have decades of experience. Employers want to know how you got into your field and why you want to be in this career.
So it’s a good idea to think about this when you begin your job search no matter what situation. Here’s exactly what interviewers look for and how to answer perfectly…
They’re honestly curious, first of all. If you’re working as a lab scientist they’ll be curious how you got into it. Did your parents have scientific careers? Did you fall in love with the topic after an introductory course in college? Etc.
Then, they want to figure out whether you enjoy the field. Are you passionate about it, or at least interested?
Because if you seem like you care, you’ll work harder and overcome challenges. If you don’t seem to care at all, you’re more likely to quit when things get tough. Or come in late. Or slack off.
So you DO need to seem like this is a career that you care about it and want to be in.
But you DO NOT need to seem like you’re obsessed with it. I get it (and the hiring manager does too) – work is just one part of life. You just can’t seem like you’re miserable or have no interest whatsoever.
Now you know why they ask. Let’s talk about how to answer.
You can give a wide range of reasons for how you chose your career. These are all great examples of stories you can tell. My suggestion is pick whatever’s closest to the truth from the list below:
Whatever you choose, try to end your answer by showing you’re still interested in this career you chose. Don’t just explain how you originally found this career. Show you’re still glad to be doing it!
Example Answer For Recent Graduates:
“My father was a biology professor and encouraged me to learn about science from a young age. We’d go to the museum and buy science kits and toys from the gift shop, so even when I was 8 or 9 years old I was experimenting and learning, and I ended up loving it. I chose to major in Biology in college and now that I’ve graduated, it’s still what I’m most excited about and interested in doing professionally.”
NOTE: I mentioned this earlier, but just to make it clear – you do NOT have to say you’ve loved this career forever. You don’t need to be some child prodigy. It’s totally fine if you didn’t discover this career until age 20, 30 or higher. Don’t feel pressure on this and don’t lie.
Example Answer For Experienced Job Seekers:
“I entered college and was still undecided on my major. I took my first biology class my second year and fell in love with it. I had a great professor who made it really fun, and he had previously worked in Big Pharma so he had a lot of great stories of what it’s actually like to work as a Scientist. I decided to choose this major and graduated three years later. Since then I’ve worked for two different Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies in R&D and I’m looking to continue my career along this path.”
I gave you a lot of bullet points earlier in this article of good stories you can tell for why you chose your career. To conclude, I’m going to give you some things you should NOT say.
That’s it. That’s how I’d answer the question and the mistakes I’d avoid. Review this before you have an interview, and if you want more help, here are a couple of other similar questions and resources you can use to practice and prepare with:
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