How a Recruiter Would Answer “Why Are You Applying for This Position?”

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Interview Questions and Answers

Actionable advice from real experts:

picture of Biron Clark

Author

Biron Clark

Former Recruiter

Contributor

Dr. Kyle Elliott

Career Coach

editor

Hayley Jukes

Editor-in-Chief

How a Recruiter Would Answer “Why Are You Applying for This Position?”

Published:

Interview Questions and Answers

Actionable advice from real experts:

Biron Clark

Author

Biron Clark, Former Recruiter

Contributor

Kyle Elliott, Career Coach

Image of Hayley Jukes

editor

Hayley Jukes, Editor

You’re in the interview and they ask you, “Why are you applying for this position?” or “Why did you apply for this job?

Are you prepared with what you would say in response?

Drawing from my experience as a recruiter, and with the help of certified career coaches, I’m going to reveal:

  • Why employers ask this interview question
  • The best way to prepare and answer this question 
  • Costly mistakes you need to avoid when answering

Highlights

  • Employers ask “Why did you decide to apply for this position?” to gauge your genuine interest and motivation for the role and company
  • Interviewers want to understand how well you would integrate into their company culture and whether your values align with theirs
  • Your answer to the question allows employers to assess your familiarity with the role and the company, demonstrating that you have done your research and understand what the job entails and how your skills and experience make you a suitable candidate

3 Reasons Employers Ask Why You Applied For This Job


Based on my experience as a recruiter, employers ask questions like, “Why did you apply for this position?” or, “Why are you interested in this position?” for 3 main reasons.

1. First, employers want to gauge your level of interest and motivation for the specific role and company. Your answer helps them determine if you genuinely desire the position or if you’re just looking for any job. 

Employers don’t want to hire a candidate who’s applying to every job they can find online. They want someone who’s thought about their career goals and wants a specific type of job.

Your answer to this question demonstrates that you’ve thoroughly reviewed the job description and know what the role entails. 

2. They don’t want to hire somebody who doesn’t know much about their particular job or didn’t do any research before the interview because it shows them you either don’t know what you’re looking for or are desperate and don’t care.

3. Understanding why you’re applying provides insight into how well you’d integrate into the company culture. Employers seek candidates whose values align with the organization’s culture and mission. 


Your answer will also help them assess if you’re likely to stay with the organization for a reasonable amount of time, reducing turnover and increasing stability within the team.

How to Answer “Why Are You Applying For This Position?”

Let’s delve into some strategies to master how to answer “Why are you applying for this position?”

Research the Company & The Role

Start by demonstrating your knowledge of the company and the role. Discuss specific aspects such as its mission, values, needs, culture, recent achievements, or industry reputation.

You could mention details you saw on the job description, on the company website, etc. Show them you understand what their role involves and are excited to be doing the work! Researching the company in advance also provides you with enough insight to answer another popular interview question: “What do you know about our company?”

EXPERT ADVICE

Dr. Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES
Tech & Interview Career Coach
caffeinatedkyle.com

What research about the company should I highlight to strengthen my application?

In the digital age, anyone can conduct in-depth research on a prospective employer. What’s most important when conducting research is finding ways to connect the company’s mission, vision, or strategy to your professional experience.

In other words, you want to explain how your background and unique skill set will support the organization in carrying out their work. Be sure to back up your claims with specific examples and ideas and then check in with the interviewer to get feedback, since they know the company best. 

Highlight Your Skills and Experience

Connect your skills, experiences, and career goals with the requirements of the position. Emphasize how your background uniquely qualifies you for the role and how you can contribute to the company’s success. Provide examples of relevant achievements or projects that showcase your capabilities.

You can also consider adding a bit about how your previous experience will help you do well in the job.

Tying Your Answer Together 

This final step is “tying together” everything you’ve said so far. You’ve demonstrated that you understand what the job involves, are excited to be doing the work, and how your skills and experience align with the role, now you just need to conclude by saying something like: 

“So that’s why I applied for this job – it seems like an opportunity to build the specific skills I want to be learning in my career while working in the industry I’m most interested in. Also, since I’ve been doing this exact type of work for the last two years in my current job, in this same industry, I’d be able to hit the ground running and start contributing immediately to your team’s efforts.”

That’s one of the main things hiring managers look for and love to hear – the ability to succeed quickly in the job by demonstrating past successes or similar past work.

Bill Burnett, Co-Director of the Stanford d.school and Co-Author of “Designing Your Life” adds to this a structured approach to articulating how a job aligns with one’s career aspirations:

“This role seems like a perfect fit for my desire to [Your career goal related to the position]. At [Previous company], I [Specific experience that shows growth], and I’m confident I can continue to learn and grow here at [Company Name] by [How you see yourself contributing to the company’s growth].” 

PRO TIP

You can end your response with a question. For example, “What improvements or changes do you hope a new candidate will bring to this position?” Or… “Looking at the other people who have been in this role, what are one or two things that set the very top performers apart from the good or average performers?”

This is one of my favorite strategies because it makes the whole interview more conversational and less like an interrogation. The result? You’ll feel a lot calmer and less stressed, which means you’ll give way better answers. You’ll also seem like a more in-demand candidate because you’re asking great questions!

“Why Are You Applying for This Position?” Example Answers

In my years as a recruiter, I observed what makes a candidate stand out. Now, I’m sharing example answers to questions like “Why are you interested in this job?”, “Why did you apply for this position?” and “Why are you applying for this position?”. These responses are modeled after those that achieved great success during interviews, helping candidates shine in front of hiring panels. 

Example Answer For a Digital Marketing Position

“I’ve been working in digital marketing for 5 years and it’s a field I really enjoy and want to continue growing in.

I applied for this position because after reading the job description, it seems like a great opportunity to continue building digital marketing skills – like social media marketing and Facebook advertising. And since I’ve been doing this exact type of work for three years with my last employer, I’d be able to hit the ground running and start contributing immediately to your team’s efforts.

I’d love to hear examples of projects the person successful in this process will be working on.” 

Example Answer For a Project Management Position

“In my next position, I’d like to continue building my project management and leadership skills. I reviewed the job description and saw an emphasis on team leadership and project management, so it seemed like a great fit. And since I’ve already spent 3 years managing 7-figure client projects and leading a team of five people in my most recent company, I’m confident that I could get up to speed very quickly and start contributing results for you in this role.”

Example Answer For a Healthcare Role

“As a registered nurse with six years of experience in a busy ER, I don’t want to give up the pressure and high pace altogether, but I’ve been hoping for a role in a slightly slower-paced facility where I can apply the skills I’ve learned but also have more time to connect with patients.

Your job post for a day clinic nurse with a broad technical skill set and the ability to work under periodic intervals of pressure really stood out to me because it’s exactly the balance I’ve been after. My experience is well suited to your busy afternoon rush, while the slower hours will offer me more time for patient care and connection. I’d love to know if there are any skills missing on the current team that you’re hoping to fill with a new hire.”

Example Answer For an Office Manager Position

“I’ve managed a successful corporate office for the past four years and have been searching for a similar role where I can use my advanced organizational skills in every aspect of office management. From travel and event planning, employee induction, correspondence, and stock ordering to interdepartmental liaison, procedural maintenance, and office administration, these skills stand me in good stead for this post. What really appeals to me about the role you’ve posted is the client-facing aspect of it as, having started out in FOH hotel management and client liaison, I’ve always been fond of customer service – and really good at it too!”

Example Answer For a Floor Manager in a Restaurant

“I applied for this role because it’s what I’ve been working towards and aspiring to for the past five years. Having been in the food and beverage trade for 7 years, I have been head waiter in a busy restaurant for three years, have completed management training there, and have filled in for the floor manager on numerous occasions. Although I have the skills and professionalism to advance to a management post, the restaurant where I work is fully staffed and simply doesn’t have a route by which I can advance. Since your post explicitly calls for a young floor manager with a strong background in waitering, I know I’d be ideal.”

Example Answer For a Teaching Position as a Newly Qualified Teacher

“Education has always been my passion. Throughout my teaching training, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with students, tailor lesson plans to their needs, and witness their growth firsthand. I applied for this position because I believe in the school’s commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment, which aligns perfectly with my own teaching philosophy.

I am particularly drawn to this school because of its reputation for nurturing both academic excellence and holistic student well-being.Although I may be a newly qualified teacher, I bring fresh perspectives, enthusiasm, and a strong foundation in educational theory and practice that will have a meaningful impact on the lives of students.”

Example Answer for a Role in Renewable Energy

“Besides my project management experience and skill set, which make me ideally suited to this role, I feel that my values and the values of your renewable power brand are in perfect alignment. Since 2015, I’ve been implementing lifestyle changes towards a more sustainable future.

I have moved completely off-grid, in terms of energy and fresh food produce, myself and have employed your brand’s equipment and methods to do so. I strongly support your brand initiative, and I would be proud to join a team where all aspects of business process, including the running of your own commercial space, are sustainable in nature.”

Example Answer for a Complete Career Change

“After years in the corporate world, I found myself unfulfilled and yearning for a career that aligns more closely with my passions and values. I’ve come to realize that my true passion lies in environmental conservation. Your job represents a unique opportunity for me to transition into a field where I can make a tangible difference in preserving our planet. 

I am drawn to the innovative projects and collaborative spirit that your team embodies, and I am eager to contribute my skills and enthusiasm to further your mission. With a background in project management and strategic planning, I am confident in my ability to adapt and excel in this new environment.”

Now, before we wrap up, let’s cover a few mistakes and traps to avoid when answering… “Why did you decide to apply for this position?”

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Answering “Why Did You Apply For This Job?”

There are a couple of things you definitely shouldn’t do when the interviewer asks why you applied for their job. 

Here’s what not to do…

  • Don’t make it seem like you don’t care what type of job you get or that you’ve applied for every position out there.
  • You should never enter an interview without knowing what the company does, its mission, values, etc. If you don’t know this stuff, you don’t deserve the job (and you probably won’t get it).
  • Don’t tell them you don’t know or aren’t sure.
  • Never give an answer or reason that’s about your personal needs… like needing more money, a shorter commute, etc. Keep it focused on the company’s needs and your career growth (try to balance both). That’s it.
  • Don’t overlook the opportunity to connect your skills, experiences, and career goals with what the job entails.
  • Never badmouth your previous or current company. 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 interview answers you give.

Sample Answers to Avoid

1. “I feel that this job would look great on my resume when I apply at <anothercompanyname> at the end of next year.”

Why this doesn’t work: By indicating that you see this role as a stepping stone to another position, you indicate that you don’t view this company as highly as the other and that you don’t intend to stay in the role for long. Onboarding costs money, so it makes no sense to hire someone who’ll be in and out again after a year or two.

2.“I’m applying for this role because of the benefits you offer, the pay, and the high number of paid annual leave days.”

Why this doesn’t work: This answer indicates that the company and the role are not a priority for you. Instead, you are thinking of days off before the work even begins and you are thinking of all you have to gain instead of what you can give to the role. We all value benefits and a good income, but employment is not a one-way street. To reap the rewards, you need to put in the effort.

3. “I’ve applied because I’ve got all the skills and qualifications listed in your job description.” 

Why this doesn’t work: On the surface, this seems like an obvious and acceptable answer, however, it’s important to remember that this is the answer that most applicants would give – and you’re NOT trying to blend in with the crowd. Be unique and highlight aspirations and goals that make YOU perfect for this role, but also show some company knowledge to prove that you’re not just looking for any similar role at any company.

More Interview Resources


picture of Biron Clark

About the Author

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. Follow on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Read more articles by Biron Clark


About the Contributor

Kyle Elliott, career coach and mental health advocate, transforms his side hustle into a notable practice, aiding Silicon Valley professionals in maximizing potential. Follow Kyle on LinkedIn.


Image of Hayley Jukes

About the Editor

Hayley Jukes is the Editor-in-Chief at CareerSidekick with five years of experience creating engaging articles, books, and transcripts for diverse platforms and audiences.


20 thoughts on “How a Recruiter Would Answer “Why Are You Applying for This Position?””

  1. I’ve had job interviews where they asked me why they should NOT hire me. That’s a difficult question and I still don’t have an answer to it. I really want to avoid too many ‘errs’, but don’t want to badmouth myself either. Do you have any suggestions? There’ll be more job interviews for me soon.

    Sincerely,
    Bas Clabbers
    The Netherlands

  2. I really do appreciate by this writer giving us such the incredible advices. I’d like to implement those on my next interview. Hope it’d be going smoothly. Keep spreading the good content. Thanks for helping us. :)

  3. Thank you for the information‥‥
    That would be a great help to my future application‥‥ really helpful‥‥

  4. Very clear and precise step by step interview guide that is of great help prepare me for my job interview.

  5. This was helpful on so many levels. I like that
    1) you went straight to the point (this wasn’t click-bait)
    2)you tailored the well- thought out answer to the needs of the prospective employer
    3) it was brief

    Thanks for this once again, I am definitely calmer going into my online interview.

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