The Question You Know They Will Ask

  • Posted by: Chaloner

There may be only one question that you can guarantee will be asked of you in any interview:

                       Why do you want this job?

And yet, although this question shouldn’t come as a surprise, it is often a stumbling block for even the most qualified candidates. Perhaps it is overlooked in interview prep because it seems self-evident. To you, the author of your story, it may seem readily apparent how this role at this organization is a logical next step. But remember, only you know exactly where you’ve been and where you want to go. It is your job to share that bigger picture with the person on the other end of the table, and help them see how and why this opportunity fits.

Be honest with yourself.
Prepare for this question ahead of time by actually asking it of yourself. Make a list of all the reasons you want the job, trying not to judge or filter your answers as they come to you. Then go through the list and pick a few reasons that have to do with the work at hand (not just the benefits, status of the company, or salary), your passion and experience. Those are the items you can share that will be genuine, compelling and unique.

Show why it’s a fit.
Ask yourself the inverse of the question: Why does the job want you? You will have time later in the interview to go into greater depth about your skills and experience so just hit on a few relevant items that demonstrate your alignment with the role. “This role will let me put my digital experience and leadership ability towards a mission in the environmental space that I care deeply about.” This will demonstrate your understanding of what the role requires and a belief in your ability to do those things well.

Keep it positive.
This is not the moment to talk about the reasons you are no longer happy in your current role. Some of that may come up as you get farther along in the process but keep the focus on why you want to come rather than on why you want to leave where you are. The organization wants to attract people who will stay and genuine enthusiasm can go a long way in setting you apart.

Let this be a question you knock out of the park.  It usually comes early in the interview and being prepared to respond with confidence and poise will set you up well for the rest of the conversation.