How to answer “Why do you want this job?”

One of the most common job interview questions is also one of the simplest. And that makes it also one of the most difficult to answer for some people. This is: “Why do you want this job?”

Because you need a job and you need to pay the bills. Amirite?

But no. You cannot say that. You must not say that. It’s the last thing employers want to hear. You must have an answer, and that answer should specifically illustrate why the company should hire you. They want to believe that their company and this particular role are of great interest to you – that you don’t just want any old job, you want their job. This is because someone who is genuinely interested in their work is a better employee than one who just wants any old job to pay the bills.

Here are three steps to answering: “Why do you want this job.”

Talk about the company.

This is your chance to show how smart you are and that you know your stuff. Say something about what the company does and why you think it’s a potentially interesting place to work. Do they make an amazing product or create software that changes the way we live? Are they innovative? Are they cutting edge? Do they align with causes you believe in? Is it the small team or the company culture that attracts you? If you can’t actually think of anything, maybe you don’t actually want the job. See the problem?

Maybe you want to bake pies at Mary’s Pie Shop because she has a reputation as a great employer and makes some of the most delicious pies you’ve ever eaten. Tell her that.

Show how your skills match the company and job.

The hiring manager is looking for fit, both cultural fit and professional fit. Do their work for them and spell out how you fit. How do your programming, sales, or marketing skills align with what the company does and is trying to do? How will you help them achieve their goals? You can even try some problem-solving. If you’ve noticed the company facing challenges, talk about how you might solve them.

Tell Mary that she’s well known for her lattice crusts and that you’ve spent literally years learning to make the best lattice crusts possible. Tell her you love the music they play in the shop and the laid back atmosphere, and that you have always admired how she keeps it clean and runs a tight ship because those things are important to you. You’ve noticed she’s been getting a lot busier lately and the wait times are getting longer. Point out that you work fast, and might have some ideas for speeding up the process.

Show how you, as a person, fit. Talk about how you’ve been working towards this role for years, and you think it’s just the best darn opportunity you can imagine. Show enthusiasm and outline how you envision yourself growing with the role and the organization.

Tell Mary you learned to bake your first pie at just two years old, and since then baking has been your life. Tell her you feel like you could learn a great deal from working with such an experienced person as her. Tell her you want to open your own pie shop across the street from her one day and steal all her business

…WAIT. No. Don’t tell her that last thing. That’s where some people mess up. Never let on that you intend to become competition or dream of stealing someone’s job. Just tell her you want to work with her, learn from her, bake pies, and help her work faster and serve more happy customers.

Before you go to an interview ask yourself why do I want this job, then find reasons that will impress a hiring manager.

Follow these tips and you’ll always have an answer.

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