Job interview questions are usually designed to find out certain information about the job candidate. It's up to the candidate to figure out what the interviewer is trying to uncover. Let’s face it, a truthful answer to the question, “Why are you interested in this position?” is very likely to have something to do with money, but that type of honesty is not going to bring a quick end to your job search.
The secret to answering interview questions well is understanding what the interviewer wants to hear and then communicating just that.
This article will explain what the question, “Why are you interested in this position?” is really asking. We tell you how to find out what the interviewer wants to hear and how to phrase the best answer. We provide some example answers and share some tips on how to come up with your own answer.
The interviewer is asking this question to determine whether you are a good fit for the job. They want to know that this is not just any old job for you but one that you are enthusiastic about and will stick with. Why? Because it costs a company a significant amount of money to onboard a new recruit. It requires investment in training and administrative expenses.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), replacing an employee can cost as much as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary.
If the job is not that important to you, it’s quite likely that you will quit when the next best offer comes along. That’s why if your answer mentions money or salary, it’s not what the hiring manager wants to hear. The hiring manager wants reassurance that you will be around for a while and that the company will not have to pay for another round of recruitment.
If you are asked, "Why do you want this job?" you should show how enthusiastic and committed you are to the mission statement, that this is your dream job, and you have no intention of leaving in the near term.
The best way to assure a potential employer of your commitment is to give a lot of thought to your answer. Approach this question by thinking about what it is about the job that attracts you the most—and don’t choose the money!
Whatever reason you give as the reason for wanting the job, it should be a reason that is unique to that job. For example, let’s say you’re interviewing with the marketing department at a large company, you might be excited about the opportunity to work on large-scale projects. Perhaps you are interviewing for a job as a product manager, and you are keen to take on a larger product portfolio.
Your reason could be related to your career path, or it could be culture-related. Perhaps you are attracted to the training the company offers. Perhaps you like the corporate culture. Perhaps you love the products.
Put simply, the answer to the question “Why Are You Interested in this job?” is that it offers you something unique that another job offer would not.
There are two steps to take when formulating your answer.
You could just select a reason based on the job description. For example, if the job is product manager for a large firm, you might be attracted to managing a broader product line. But that’s not very inspiring from the hiring manager’s point of view.
It’s better to research the company and come up with insights that show that your interest in the company has gone beyond just reading the job description. Perhaps the company is working on a particular line of data solutions, and you’ve been working on similar projects. Showing that you know more will convince the interviewer that you have given the new job some serious thought.
Visit the company website, read media coverage such as press releases, reach out to your network, or contact existing employees on LinkedIn to see if they are willing to connect. This research will uncover information that other candidates will not have and make you stand out.
Here are some examples of reasons you might give for wanting to work for a firm. In our example answers, we will group them according to these reasons.
If you choose this reason, you could sound even more convincing to the interviewer if you point to media coverage or an article that you read that sang the praises of recent company activity.
If you choose this reason, you could give examples of the company's products and services that resonate with you. Your knowledge will assure the interviewer that you truly are a fan of the company.
If you choose this reason, be sure to list the company values that align with your own. These should be values that are unique to the organization, such as a commitment to corporate social responsibility or support to the local community.
If you choose this reason, you will show your knowledge of the company’s strategy and recent activity. For example, your research could reveal where the company’s best results have been and what areas are strongest.
Before we look at good examples of interview answers to the question, let’s look at how not to answer the question.
Example of a wrong answer: “I’m interested in this position because I feel that this job will give me and my family new opportunities and a better life.”
On the face of it, this might not seem too bad an answer, but there are two main things wrong with it. First, it is too vague. What aspects of the job opportunity will give you and your family a new life? The salary, the work, the location? It’s not clear.
Second, this answer focuses on the job seeker and does not show how the potential employer could benefit from the arrangement.
Although the question does not specifically address the company’s stake in the relationship, always try to frame your answers in a way that shows your value to the hiring company.
Here are some sample answers depending on which of the following four reasons you have chosen:
The company and its work have a stellar reputation.
You admire the company’s products, services, or initiatives.
You share the company’s values.
The company has experienced recent growth and expansion.
None of the following answers are vague. They explain what aspects of the company have roused their passion and interest in the company. A great answer explains how the applicant believes they will benefit from the position and also how the company will benefit if it hires the applicant. The answers show that the interviewee has given a lot of thought to why they want to work for that company.
Answer 1: “It’s been my goal that my next job will be chief technology officer for a leading company in the field. I have been managing software engineers but would like to do so for a market leader with bleeding-edge products. Assuming the role of chief technology officer at your firm would give me the opportunity to expand my skillset and apply my experience in a context where there can be mutual benefit and growth. This company has the resources to act on new strategies and initiatives, and as chief technology officer, I would be able to present my ideas to the leadership group."
Answer 2: "This position would be pivotal in my career. This company offers a world-class customer experience, high-quality products, and short wait times for customers. I’d like to learn more about the company’s strategies in maintaining its reputation for constant improvement. I also think that my sales and marketing skills could enhance efforts in this area.”
Answer 1: “I’m interested in this position because I am fascinated by the solutions this company has developed recently. I would love to be exposed to the ground-breaking solutions that, according to media reports, will be launched soon and have the opportunity to be involved in such a dynamic product line. I feel that my skills and experience are aligned with the company’s strategic direction, and I could positively influence the company’s performance.”
Answer 2: "I have always admired this company’s products from its early PC games to its latest VR products. I think the development process from concept to taking a product to market is sophisticated, and I would love to learn more about how that process operates and the different moving parts. At the same time, I can use my past experience in beta testing to the company’s advantage by incorporating the client feedback to create even better products."
Answer 1: “I understand the company is focused on collaboration and communication toward innovating new products. My preference is to work in that sort of environment—using iterative processes to constantly improve concepts and products and bouncing ideas of other experts. I consider that approach the best path to breakthroughs for the company and one that I would buy into without hesitation.”
Answer 2: “My previous experience was that innovation was stifled because the team dynamics were not nurtured. I really admire the flat structure that this company has and the way that teams are developed and supported. I am really attracted to the servant leadership that this company embraces. I feel that I would excel creatively in this environment, and my performance would benefit the company.”
Answer 1: “In my current job as a product designer, I was lucky enough to work with industry leaders like Apple and Netflix. I learned a lot but would like to work for a company that is experiencing rapid growth as opposed to being at the mature growth stage. This opportunity with your firm would give me that exposure and boost my career trajectory. That, combined with my coding work experience, would benefit the company at the same time. I feel that this opportunity is the perfect fit for my career growth and for the company.”
Answer 2: “The company’s success in building new brands and the response on social media has been inspiring to me. I would like to learn more about that process because this knowledge will help me build my own brand professionally. I also feel that my experience with predictive analytics can enhance the company’s expansion efforts.”
It can seem like you are answering a simple question with a lot of detailed information. Don’t worry if you feel like you need to start over and clarify. The interviewer should be willing to let you reiterate your point so that it is clearer.
“Why are you interested in this position?” is a common interview question, but it is not a simple ice breaker. It is crucial that a good answer displays your passion for the job and gives examples of what spurs that passion.
Bottom line, the more specific you can be, the better, because the hiring manager wants to determine your career goals and if they align with the job.
Here are some summary tips to help you create your own answer to the question, “Why are you interested in this position?”
Choose a reason that is unique to this job—no other job will do!
Research the company so that you can point to something to support your reason.
Be specific in your answer, not vague.
Don’t mention compensation.
Show your value to the company in your answer.
If you feel that your answer is garbled, ask to repeat it more clearly.