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24. Job interview question: "Why do you want this job?"

Job interview question: "Why do you want this job?"

What are you supposed to say in a job interview when the interviewer asks you, "Why do you want this job?".  And, does it matter what you say anyway, it's only an opening question, surely?

Let's deal with the second part of this question first. Yes, it matters very greatly what you say to this opening question. Why? Because often it sets the scene for the interview.

In your answer you are creating a strong, positive impression or leaving a weak, vague, disinterested one.

You need to grab this opportunity to show the panel that you have a lot to offer them, that you know and understand them, and that you will be of benefit in their future.

You set the scene in your opening answer as to what happens next and whether you get offered a job.

Interview Answers: 8 Tips for "Why do you want this job?"

Here are some suggestions for answering this interview question. 

  1. You may begin your answer with a general lead-in phrase such as, "There are many reasons that I want this job, first ...", or "I want this job because ...".
  2. Then talk about what you know about the organisation that particularly attracts you. For instance, you may have been told that it's great place to work by your friends, or you may have read in the media that it is one of the most desirable organisations to work for, or you may admire its history - its reputation - its global reach ... whatever the organisation is proud of. This helps the interviewer to know that you do know them and are there because of them, not just because you are desperate for a job.
  3. Explain the benefit to them of employing you and your value to the organisation in the future. I can't emphasise enough how much an interview is about the organisation, not about the applicant!
  4. Select three of your best and strongest specific strengths or examples, and explain how good a fit they are for the position.
  5. Do not waffle about your general personality traits. 
  6. Be flexible. Some job interviews have a time limit on the interview answers but often in my experience people are given a little longer to answer the first question as it sets the scene.
  7. Of course, the exact wording of your interview answer will depend upon the type of job, the level of the job, your experience, the subtleties that they've incorporated into the question, your strengths, what you know about the position, the essential criteria, the time in the job interview when the question is asked, and so on. However, I am presuming here it is the opening question.
  8. End with a strong concluding statement. If you wish include a key reason you want the position and state strongly that you want it, e.g. ".... and this is why I am really keen to work for you".

Want more help with your job interview?

There is a practical and comprehensive job interview self-coaching guide that can take you through essential steps in preparation, including ones you may never have thought about. There are also small group job interview tele-classes every two months where you can receive personal input on your particular job application from top job interview coach, Rachel Green. Alternatively, both face-to-face and Skype job interview coaching are available with her too. Lots of choices - which will you do next? Win that job!