Answering interview questions is an invaluable skill you can use for the rest of your life. Some are great at it naturally, while others have to work on it. Even if you’re a natural in a job interview setting, some questions tend to trip you up. That’s why practice and preparation are so important for job interviews.

A common interview question to ask is, why do you want this job? Or another variation such as:

  • what drew you to this job?
  • why would you want to work here?
  • what makes you interested in this company?
  • what makes you a good fit for this position?

How you answer this important question can greatly impact your chances of getting a job offer. Here are some insights into why you're asked this question. What to focus on in your answer. Finally, there are some things you should avoid discussing.

why do employers ask, why do you want this job?

Employers always have a reason for asking certain interview questions. When they ask why you want this job, they’re probably looking for a combination of a few things. Here is what the hiring manager is trying to discover:

  • your career goals
  • what motivates you
  • how this position fits into your career plans
  • if you have a sincere interest in the job
  • how do you set your apart from other candidates

what to focus on when answering the question

When a hiring manager asks you this question, they're trying to see your level of interest. The answer to this question should explain what drew you to apply for the role. Here are some areas to focus on:

you understand the team or projects

You're a team player, so you should discuss your interest in working with the team and the type of projects the organization offers. Be as specific as possible and discuss the company culture you like to work in.

Maybe there’s someone well-regarded in your industry that you’re looking forward to working with. Maybe the company has announced an initiative you’re excited about participating in. Include details to show your understanding of the role and the people you’ll be working with.

your skills match the job role

You believe your skillset and experience are a great match for the role — or at least, you should, since you applied. Explain your greatest strengths, what you will bring to the role, and how your skills can benefit the company. Again, one of the biggest challenges is being specific. What skills and traits do you see making a difference in this role?

you know the job description

What parts of the job description drew you in? Are you excited about a certain task or part of the role? Once again, there is a specific rule. Bring up parts of the job description and how you see yourself in the role. This helps to show that you did your homework and understand the job you’ll be doing.

Use this to tie in your own skills and experiences. Show how they apply in real life to these responsibilities is even better.

you're excited about advancement and growth

Explain how you think you could grow in this job in the long run. This will show you are interested in staying with the company long-term. Just be careful not to make it sound like you’re only interested in this role as a stepping stone to bigger things. Emphasize you’re excited about the current role.

Demonstrate that you look forward to growing with the company in the future.

you're looking for a new challenge

You’re excited for a new challenge in your career. For example, you are thrilled to take a management role. That you're interested in managing people for the first time. Just make sure to highlight how you’re prepared to take this new responsibility in stride.

you’ll be an advocate for the brand

Being a fan or advocate for a company can be a major selling point. Employers love employees who believe in what they do. People who boost brand awareness are great for team spirit and morale at the company.

You can explain why you admire the company in many ways. You might be a fan of their products or services or just admire their reputation. Explain how you look forward to working under the company’s leadership and being part of its culture.

With almost all these answers, the key is to be as specific and detailed as possible. The goal is to show that you did your homework, have a genuine interest, and have the capabilities to do the job.

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what not to say

When answering a question, there are right and wrong ways to do it. In this instance, there are a few things you should avoid saying when answering questions about why you want a job:

you need the job

Even if it’s true, this response makes you seem desperate. It may cause the company to question why you applied for the job. If you tell the hiring manager that you need the job, it will only lead to them making assumptions.

The hiring manager may think that you lost your job. They also may suspect something more sinister. Planting a seed of doubt is never a good idea. Don't put yourself in the position of you having to defend your candidacy is never a good idea.

that the money’s great

Yes, money is a factor when you apply for a job. That said, it’s not what you should say aloud in the interview. Your potential employer certainly shouldn’t think money is your primary motivation for wanting the job. They may question whether you want or have the capability to do the role or if you’re just seeing dollar signs.

a generic answer that applies to any company

Always ensure your answers are relevant to the company and job you’re applying for. This is why it’s a good idea to reference some of your work experience from the job description.

Generic questions and answers will not help you in an interview. They can actually have the opposite effect. If you give a bland answer, it might come across as disinterested or like you haven’t done any research about the company.

you're not sure how to answer

Preparing for this question is important. Having no answer or saying you aren’t sure is a wasted opportunity. If you can’t express why you want the job, an employer isn’t likely to hire you. If you've blanked on the question and need a moment to collect your thoughts, that's okay.

You’re better off using a stall tactic than admitting you have no answer. Pause and say, ‘That’s a great question.’ That will give you a few precious seconds to gather yourself and hopefully come across as thoughtful rather than unprepared. You can also ask if you have time to ponder the question and move on to the next one.

Always be ready to answer why you want the job. Use your answer to show employers your excitement and motivation. This is your opportunity to reaffirm why you’re the best candidate for the job. The answer may be obvious to you, but it’s not always apparent to hiring managers.

Practicing exactly what you want to say is also a good idea. You might know your reasons, but it may not be as easy to articulate them as you think! Practicing beforehand allows you to see how your answer will sound aloud.

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