There are some VERY common mistakes to avoid when answering “why do you want this job?”… so I’m going to walk you through the EXACT steps to follow to give a great answer and avoid any traps or mistakes that will cost you job offers!
Let’s get started…
Here’s the best method for answering “why do you want this position?”…
I’m going to show you the exact 3 steps to answer this interview question. Then, we’ll look at two example answers after that. Here are the steps to follow for the best answer…
Hiring managers want to see that you’ve put effort into thinking about your career, your job search, and what your priorities are in the next position you take.
That’s the type of person they want to hire.
So the worst thing you can do when they ask why you want this position is to say you’re not sure.
If you say you haven’t thought about what you want, or that you don’t know anything about their position, you might have already cost yourself the job!
They’re just NOT going to hire you if you can’t explain why you’re job hunting and what you’d like to do in your next position.
So, when they ask “why do you want this job?”, the first thing you need to be able to do is name something you’re looking for in your job search overall.
This is a key step in any job search and if you haven’t done this, it’s probably a big reason you can’t find a job.
There’s no “right” answer for what you’re targeting. It’s your job search and your life/career. But be ready to name something.
You could say you’re looking for career advancement or a higher level role and that’s why you’re job hunting. You could say you want more leadership, more responsibility, more of a chance to work in a certain area or build a certain skill. You could say you want more exposure to any number of things (a technology, a certain industry, a different type of work environment like a small start-up, etc.)
Here’s an example of how your answer to why you want their job might begin:
“I really love interacting with customers and my last job took me a bit away from that. I’m looking to find a role that will let me get back to the direct customer interaction that I enjoy so much.”
This is a good start to an answer because you’re showing the hiring manager right away that you’re targeting something specific – the chance to work directly with customers.
(Don’t worry if this still seems difficult. You’ll get two full sample answers later in the article, so keep reading.)
For this first step, just make sure that whatever you say is something this next job offers! Don’t say you want to work directly with customers if this job isn’t going to let you do that. That’s why you’ll need to do a bit of research to give a great answer. More info on that in the next step…
Once you’ve given the hiring manager an idea of what you are targeting in your job hunt, it’s time to talk a bit about why their job interests you…
Show the hiring manager that you put some effort into researching as much info as possible about the position.
This might be as simple as reading the job description. Other times you might need to research the company’s website or LinkedIn page to find info about the area you’re targeting in your job hunt.
Here’s what your answer might look like after a bit of research:
“I love interacting with customers and my last job took me a bit away from that. I’m looking to find a role that will let me get back to the direct customer interaction that I enjoy so much. I took a look at the job description before coming in and it seems like this role involves a lot of customer-facing work.”
Now we’re 2/3 of the way through your answer. We’ve shown the hiring manager that you know what you want in your next job, and you’re showing them you’ve researched their job and seen things you like!
It might sound simple, but you’ll stand out from many other job seekers just by being able to clearly show you understand the job and have reasons you’re excited to do the work!
Now let’s go on to the third and final step for answering this question.
So far you’ve told the hiring manager what you want in your next job.
And after that, you talked about what you saw in their specific position that seems to fit what you’re looking for!
So now they know what you want, and why their job is exciting to you. Those are great things to demonstrate, and you’ve already gone a long way toward making them happy with your interview answer.
There’s a final step now that will help set you apart though…
Companies hire based on their needs, not yours. So to really give a strong answer, conclude by putting the focus on their needs.
After you point out the things that excited you about their job, talk about how your strengths would play into what they need.
If something is mentioned a lot in the job description, it’s not just a career opportunity they can provide you… it’s something they need help with!
They have to find somebody willing and excited to do this work. You can show them that you’re that person who can come in and solve their problems and help them succeed.
Now let’s look at some word-for-word example answers so you can make sure your answer is following the 3 key steps we looked at above…
“I enjoy interacting with customers and my last job took me a bit away from that. I’m looking to find a role that will let me get back to the direct customer interaction that I enjoy so much. I took a look at the job description before coming in and it seems like this role involves a lot of customer-facing work. I was excited because that’s a strength of mine and I think that not only would this position fit what I’m targeting, but it would also allow me to come in and have an immediate impact and make the best use of my skills.”
This sample answer above is doing everything in the 3 key steps we looked at earlier. You’re showing the employer that you know what you want. You’re showing the employer you know what their job involves. And you’re talking about how you can help them if they hire you!
If you structure your answer like this, you’ll have a great response when they ask why you want their job.
Let’s look at one more example answer now.
“I think my biggest priority right now in my job search is to continue building my business development skills. I took on more and more of that in my last role as a Recruiter and enjoyed it a lot. I reviewed the job description and saw this is mentioned a lot, so I thought the position seems like not only a good fit for what I want, but a role where my skillset would be well-used and needed. So that’s why I want this job.”
As you can see from the example answers above, you should be clear and direct when responding and always show that you’ve thought about their role and how it fits into your career before you applied for the position.
Here’s one more example before we conclude:
“I’m motivated to find a position that will grow my leadership skills, and a friend forwarded me your job description because he saw that the job posting mentions building and leading a cross-functional team. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years at my current employer, and I’m now looking to do the same in a larger organization like yours because I feel it’ll help me grow further as a manager. Also, I think the fact that I’ve been doing similar work in the same industry for the past two years will allow me to step into this role and be successful, so that’s why I want this position and why I think it makes sense as the next move in my career.”
You now know how to give the best answer possible to, “Why do you want this job?”
By combining the 3 pieces we talked about, you’ll have a great answer that clearly explains why you want their job or why you chose to apply for their position.
And better yet – you’ll stand out from other job seekers answering this question because you’re also showing the interviewer exactly how your skills and experience will help THEM if they hire you (that’s step 3 from the steps above).
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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