It’s one of those questions that always pops up in an interview and should be easy to answer – so why is it that we all find it so difficult?
Many people fall into the trap of giving what they believe to be a short, truthful response. Some classic examples are:
- Well, I want a job…
- I want to work…
- I want to pay the mortgage/rent….
- I want a promotion, it’s a bigger/better job…
- I hate the job I’m in, I need to do something different…
- My family are moving so I need to change jobs…
- I got made redundant…
- I’m a bit bored…
- I like the sound of it…
…I could go on.
Whilst all of the above may be completely honest, they aren’t answers that your interviewer wants to hear. They are all answers that explain why you applied for the job, none of them give a good or compelling reason as to why you would be suitable for the position. You need to provide an answer that makes you stand out from the rest. Don’t fall into the trap that so many others fall into by giving a bland, lack-lustre answer that every interviewer has heard a thousand times.
…So, the million dollar question is; ‘how do I actually answer this ‘should-be-easy’ question?’ Quite simply, this should be the opportunity to sell yourself. You need to think about what the interviewer wants in a potential employee and then sell your skills and qualities to match their requirements.
Have you ever been rejected from a job because you seemed ‘under-enthused’? Have you ever been told ‘I wasn’t sure that you really wanted the job’. These are examples of very weak feedback to give someone, post-interview. Surely you did want the job if you applied for it in the first place, or at the very least, if you seem suitable for the position, it should be offered to you and then it is up to you whether you decide to turn it down. As much as this is a terrible piece of feedback to give an interviewee, it happens, so you must make sure you give the interviewer no reason to say it to you!
You need to sound passionate and enthusiastic about the vacancy, without sounding false, gushy or pretentious – not so simple!
Below are 5 easy steps you should take when asked ‘why do you want this job’? Of course there many ways you can answer this and none of them should be taken as gospel, but they are good stepping-stones to avoid giving an answer which will make you blend in with the rest.
“This is a great company / I’d love to work for you because […] / I know […] about this company and for these reasons […], I think I’d fit in really well here”.
A good way to initially stand out is to show that you have done your research about the company and interviewer, (flattery goes a long way). If you really do want the job – this is generally something you should do instinctively, before applying for an interview.
“I like a challenge. In my previous job I had to face situations like […] which I overcame by doing this […]. What are the challenges someone may face in this position and what are this issues sometimes faced when getting someone to really excel at this job”?
Showing that you aren’t scared to be challenged and will persevere, is something a potential employer will always like to hear. Even if your previous positions have been fairly routine or mundane, at some point you will have faced a challenge to overcome. Make sure this is relevant to the vacancy you are interviewing for and remember to include specific examples.
“I really enjoy doing […] as I have skills in […] areas / I’m good at […] because […]”.
Employers like to know what you enjoy in a role and that you will be a happy member of the team. Again, remember to give relevant examples to back up your points.
“I occasionally struggle with […] but I know I can address this problem by doing […] and it hasn’t stopped me succeeding in my previous roles”.
As much as you really need to sell yourself, we are all human and occasionally struggle with certain tasks. Make sure the examples you give (if you have had any struggles) are not too ‘horrific’ and still show you are mindful about how to address them. For example ‘I have trouble delegating, as I like to address tasks myself’ or ‘I find it hard to say no, which often increases my workload’ are good examples of problems often faced – we’re all human. Also, these are generally ‘positive problems’ which backhandedly demonstrate good qualities.
If you were to say ‘I really didn’t get on with anyone in my team-I needed to leave,’ it wouldn’t look very good. If this is the only answer you can think of, it’s best to leave this step out.
“Are there any reasons that make you believe I couldn’t do this job”?
Asking if there is any doubt about your capabilities to do the role shows that you are still interested in the position. It also gives you the opportunity to refute any queries the employer may have, (hopefully) leaving nothing but a positive opinion of yourself when the interview finishes.
Remember, no-one is perfect and you may still be unsuccessful in securing the role (for example, if another interviewee happens to be more suitable). This is life, and is sometimes completely out of your control. However, if you follow the steps above (even roughly) then you stand a better chance than the people who give generic, bland answers such as the ones outlined earlier.
Sell yourself! There’s a reason you secured the interview in the first place!
This post was written by Pier