What's the best answer for this interview question?
Prepping for an interview may lead you to one of the top job interview questions: “Why do you want this job?” Most employers ask this question (even if not using those exact words), and candidates spend a lot of time strategizing to have the right answer.
There are several difficulties with this. First off, is there truly a best answer for “Why do you want this job?” Could a canned answer ever be demonstrative of what you want to convey in the interview? Employers know you have likely planned for their questions, but planning for something that should be an organic response presents its own unique set of issues.
Answering this top job interview question truthfully should be easy. However, here is what you might actually be thinking:
I need to pay bills.
This is a bigger job with an impressive title, and I want a promotion.
I am bored with my current job.
My old position became redundant.
I don't get along with my current boss.
While all of that may be true, you can't exactly say any of it in an interview. On the other hand, a generic reply won't be any more advantageous than telling the full truth. You want to be truthful, memorable, and genuinely enthusiastic while showcasing the reasons you are the right candidate for the position. You are just not sure how to get there.
So how do you answer “Why do you want this job?”
Perhaps you sent in your resume as part of a batch of several applications without much due diligence. Now that the interview is set up, it is time to know more about the company you will be visiting and the role you will play.
The truth is that many job seekers don't always have the time to fully research every company to which they apply. Besides, it can be discouraging to invest time and effort into researching a company just to find out that you did not land an interview. However, once the interview is a sure thing, it's time to take that step.
This means more than simply reading the website. Did you get names of the people you'll be meeting with? Who are they? Do they have profiles on the company site? How about LinkedIn profiles?
LinkedIn research can have two extra built-in benefits, other than the obvious one of allowing you to learn more about the professional image of the hiring manager.
The first one is looking for any connections you may have in common with the hiring manager. If you do, and if you feel comfortable reaching out to the shared connection, consider asking them a few questions. Remember that they may mention it to the hiring manager, so keep your questions high-level and professional.
The second one is noticing whether the hiring manager (and other people at the company) are making themselves easy to contact. Recruiters love phone numbers or personal e-mail addresses on profiles! If you notice this trend, it may be a sign that those people are looking for other opportunities. I recommend tucking this observation away, so you can weigh it later in the context of the interview.
Look up the company on Glassdoor. You may consider opening a profile on that site, as without it you only get the overall score and one review. Read all the reviews for the company you are about to meet with. In addition to learning more about the nature of the company, you may get a glimpse into what interview style to expect, what top job interview questions might be asked, and how quickly the hiring decision is typically made. Look for hints: For example, if reviews emphasize teamwork as a key company value, be prepared to speak about your ability to build teams and collaborate on complex projects.
If the opportunity is at a publicly-traded company, find and read their annual report (Form 10K). You will find it on the company's website. Focus on the “Management's Discussion and Analysis” section, where top company managers talk about the industry and challenges that the company might be facing.
Apply the research
After the research is done, use what you have gathered to think about what you can add to the company and what appeals to you. You could break this into three bite-sized pieces:
What do you like about the company itself? Is it solving a puzzle that you are deeply interested in? Is this an organization that focuses on giving back? Do they have a strong employee base that contributes to process improvements? If you don't already know the answers, search for recent press releases and articles that feature the company. Is there something that will have you excited and enthusiastic about working there?
How is this position a fit with your experiences and skills? If you have not pulled together a cover letter for the position, now is a good time to do it — even if just to help you prepare for the interview. Seeing the fit on paper will allow you to present yourself more effectively.
How does this position fit into your overall career path? Will you have opportunities to grow professionally through training or coaching, as well as collaborate and learn from people you admire and respect? While you are looking for work, it can be hard to remember that salary and benefits are not going to be the only factors in your long-term satisfaction. If success in this role is a key piece in your professional growth plan, you are more likely to give it your best effort and see the meaning behind difficult days.
When developing your “Why do you want this job” best answer, be honest
Have some ideas ready based on your research and personal reflection, but also pay attention to the moment. What stands out based on the interview environment? Did you feel welcomed upon arriving? Do the hiring committee members have a great rapport, and do you feel as if you would fit in quickly? Fold this into your response to show that you are not delivering a memorized answer, but speaking naturally as part of a conversation.
Remember that the interview is for both you and the hiring committee
You've considered why you want to work there and why you want this position in particular. Be fair and honest, but also show them why you are the best candidate in your reply. A great deal of the hiring process is an art rather than a science. If you ask hiring managers for their feedback, there is often an intangible element involved in who is selected for the final round of interviews, and who ultimately gets the job. Your response to “Why do you want this job?” is your opportunity to show them why you will be excited about working with them, and how that enthusiasm can carry into what you give back to the organization. Make that a part of your secret sauce.
Finally, don't get too attached to the preparation you've done
You want to answer this question honestly and have reasons you would be happy with this organization, but remember — no job is 100% ideal, and you don't have this position until you have accepted an offer. Striking a balance between enthusiasm for an opportunity and the ability to accept that you may not be one hired can be tricky.
If for some reason you don't get the job, reiterate your enthusiasm for the team and company mission in a thank-you note — it allows you to leave a good impression. Then, move on. Your preparation and reflection will only benefit you in the future – and you will have more information to drive your responses at the next interview!
Not sure if your answers are showcasing your enthusiasm for the position? Our TopInterview coaches can help you find that right balance.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on our sister site, TopResume.