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A common interview question that can leave some candidates lost for words is ‘why do you want this job?’. It might initially sound like a simple question to answer, but it can be easy to slip up. So, it’s essential you can effectively communicate why you are interested in the role and why you chose to apply in the first place.

Here are some key considerations when answering that all-important question of ‘why do you want this job?’ with great examples ready for your upcoming interview.

What does the interviewer really want to know?

When a hiring manager asks this question, what they really want to know is how much you know about their company, how this role fits into your ongoing career plan, how it will help you develop and challenge you, and why the company appeals to you.

When preparing your answer for this question, keep in mind that the hiring manager is looking for someone who will provide value to their team and someone who wants to grow and progress with the company and feed this into your answer.

How do I prepare for this question?

Interview prep is key to landing any job. As well as doing overall research on the company, the role itself and the wider team structure, we recommend prepping for common interview questions as well.

The points below will help guide you in the right direction when preparing your answer to ‘why do you want this job?’ and a few of the key things you want to think about prior to your interview.

  • Take note of the company's values and mission statement and think about whether it is something you are or could be passionate about. When asked why you want the job, you can then talk about how you want to help them on their mission to achieve certain goals or that you are aligned with some of their core company values.
  • If you have any industry-specific knowledge that applies to this role, that can be a plus, but it’s not a deal breaker. Think about any previous job roles or projects you have worked on that can still be related to this new role. Talk about specific examples of how you can help this company achieve its goals and highlight any relevant transferrable skills that will make you stand out as the right candidate.
  • Write down any recent achievements you can talk about or any challenges you've faced recently that might be related to this new job. Think about how this will add value to the role, the team, and the company that you’re applying for.
  • What made you want to send in your CV and application in the first place? This can be a great starting point for you if you are asked why you want the job. Think back to what initially excited you about the job description and how you felt when reading it for the first time.

Related: How to handle the conversation about your resignation

‘Why do you want this job’ best answer examples:

There are a few different ways to start answering the ‘why do you want this job?’ interview question. Here are some of the best ones to use to help get you started:

Show your enthusiasm

  • 'This opportunity is really exciting as I will be able to learn/develop/progress in an exciting environment/industry that I am passionate about.'
  • ‘The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the job spec for this role was...’

These are great answer openers because they demonstrate you are passionate about the role and that you are excited to become part of the team. It’s also clear that you have thought about how this role will impact your personal career goals and how they are aligned with the job role itself. Spend some time researching the company and selecting a few key factors to incorporate into your answer to demonstrate that you are a good fit.

Focus on the job at hand

  • 'I want this job because I have clear skills that will help me achieve...'
  • ‘This role will give me the opportunity to combine both my skills in [skill 1] and [skill 2] to achieve...’
  • ‘I love [job/role-specific task] and my last job took me away from that. So now, I’m looking to find a role that will let me get back to working on projects I really enjoy and after looking at the job spec I think this role would be perfect with that.’

With these answers, you want to make sure you are matching specific skills you have obtained to parts of the job role. This shows you have done your research and are confident you can get the job done to a high standard if employed.

Try to keep it short as there will be plenty of other opportunities in an interview to talk about how your skills and to go through your CV in more detail.

You also want to show the hiring manager that you put some time into researching the position and how it relates with your career goals and specialties.

Related: Tell me about yourself: How to answer one of the most common interview questions

‘Why do you want this job’ bad answer examples:

Now we have gone through some of the best answers, we should also mention what not to say when faced with this question in an interview. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • “I just really need a job”
    Although sometimes honesty is the best policy, that rule does not apply here. This type of answer shows the employer that you do not have any interest beyond your monthly wage slips.
  • “The pay increase appealed massively”
    Although salary and benefits are key things to consider when looking for a new job role, they should not be the sole reason for you to want a job. You always want to prove your value and enthusiasm in a job interview and answering a question like this does not show either.
  • “I feel like this will be a good step towards my next career move” 
    This is a big red flag to a hiring manager if you are already indicating that you want to move on from the role before you have even got it. You can talk about how it would be a good step towards your overall career goals, but don’t mention moving on from that company in an interview.
  • “Because I’m qualified” 
    Although this answer may be correct, it won’t make you stand out to a hiring manager. All applicants that come through will more than likely have the correct qualifications, but you want to highlight what makes you so special. Highlight what you can add to the team beyond your CV.

Are you ready to make your next career move? Get in touch with our recruiting experts now.