One of the key questions that often crops up in job interviews isn't so much about you, but about the job you're applying for; employers want reassurance that you know something about the company and have given some thought as to why you’d be a good fit. One of the most common ways for them to test this is with the dreaded question: "Why are you interested in this job?"
If you are struggling for an answer, this article can help you to show employers that you are 100 percent sure about your latest career decision.
Constructing an answer
The secret to giving a strong answer is demonstrating that you’ve done your homework and that you have a pretty good idea of who the company is. Your answer should focus on these three aspects:
1. Showing that you understand the job.
2. Sell yourself as a good match.
3. Demonstrate what you can contribute - i.e. what you can do for the employer, and not the other way around.
Explaining your interest
Short and lazy answers like ‘because it’s a great company’ aren’t going to work; you will need to be more specific. To get some inspiration, the following examples can explain what caught your interest in the job, providing evidence of your research:
“I read your annual report and was intrigued by your plans for the future, specifically regarding the implementation of emerging technologies. I’d love to be a part of that.”
“The recent additions to your executive team have some of the best reputations in the industry. I’d love to learn from them and use those lessons to help the company go even further.”
“I’ve been impressed by your commitment to corporate responsibility, especially when it comes to sustainable growth.”
Being a good fit
The following examples can give you some ideas on how to position yourself as a good fit for the job. This approach might require a longer answer because you need to provide some examples of your own skills, knowledge and experience.
“I’m interested in this job because, with my background in corporate communications, I’m certain I could make an immediate impact. Beyond that, I’m ready for the challenge of applying my writing skills in the social media arena.”
“I love the challenge of using my sales background in an industry that is predicted to be flat over the coming years. I’d make it my personal goal to show positive growth, regardless of what’s happening in the rest of the industry.”
“As a HR executive, I’ve handled several mergers, and I know what the challenges are. I love being able to help companies through the uncertainty that a merger brings and seeing them come out stronger on the other side.”
Demonstrating your value
As mentioned, it's important that you show how you can benefit the employer. For instance:
“I am extremely interested in this job as Human Resources Manager. As you mentioned in the job listing, I would be responsible for recruiting, orientation and training. I was responsible for these functions in my most recent position. As Human Resources Assistant Manager at XYZ Company, I recruited over 100 employees, and led training for all the new staff in a department of 45 people. I am interested in this job because it would allow me to continue to develop my expertise in these areas.”
“I am interested in this job as a software engineer because I am extremely interested in, and skilled at, learning and excelling at new technologies. I have already learned and mastered programs and languages ranging from Python to Java, and look forward to learning and mastering even more. I am also interested in creative problem solving, and have developed that skill as an analyst over the past ten years.”
“I am interested in this job as a special education teacher because I value your school’s mission, which is to focus on the unique needs of the individual child. As a special education teacher for the past six years, I have developed strategies for achieving academic and personal success for children, and I look forward to bringing these strategies to your school. For example, I developed a system for staying in regular contact with the parents of my students, and problem solving issues with them. I would love to continue this kind of communication here.”
To make your answer more powerful, you can add numbers to emphasise the kind of impact you had in your previous job. You might notice that all three instances use specific examples and provide numerical evidence, and transferable skills that the candidate has gained from previous experiences.
Asking yourself questions
To answer this question efficiently, you will need to give it some thought in advance. It might help to get your notepad out and start brainstorming some self-directed questions like:
- What do you like about the company and why?
- What is the company famous for?
- Does it have a reputation for something, e.g. product, industry development, company culture?
- Does the company value or provide resources for employee development?
- What are the goals of the company and how can you help to achieve them?
Such questions can give you some direction in the way you approach the answer and basic structure in your response.
Common mistakes to avoid
If you go unprepared or lose your concentration because of nerves, it might be difficult to improvise on the spot, but you should avoid the following replies at all costs:
- A generic answer that applies to just about any company
- An incorrect answer that shows you haven’t done any research
- An unenthusiastic answer that suggests you couldn't really care less who's signing your pay cheque
To get the best answer, try to figure out what the interviewer is really trying to find out, and construct a specific and positive response. This is important because you are competing with other candidates for the job, and the way you choose to structure your answer can put you miles ahead of the competition.
When this question is answered properly, it gives you the chance to build a connection with the employer and develops an understanding of the mutual benefits that can derive from your collaboration. The goal here is to convince the interviewer that you aren’t just a good fit for the job, but that you’re a perfect fit.
Sound difficult? Fear not! Preparing properly can help you get the employer’s attention. If you have any questions you would like to ask us, make sure to leave them in the comments section below…
This article was originaly published in July 2014.