Careers advice

Answering the "why do you want this job" interview question

How to give your reason.

“The money”, “I don’t like my current job”, “I need a change of scenery” – these are all perfect examples of how not to answer the “why do you want this job?” interview question.

On the face of it, this question is so blunt that it’s difficult to answer, and often makes it onto lists of the toughest job interview questions. But when you break it down, there are a few obvious boxes you need to tick in order to answer this one well.

The good news? We’ve done that breaking down for you, so all you need to do is read, absorb and apply these tips to your own situation.

First things first

Essentially, there are two sides to answering this question – seeing things from the company’s perspective and seeing things from your perspective. So let’s tackle each in turn.

First, tell them what you can do for the company.

Why you want the job – the company perspective

While you should be honest at all times in your job interview, there’s, of course, a degree of needing to hit the right notes with the organisation. With this in mind, when an interviewer asks why you want to work for their company, it’s well worth covering off the following:

  1. Demonstrating your knowledge of the organisation: it’s not a good look walking into a job interview and demonstrating that you know little to nothing about the business itself. While the panel won’t expect you to be able to deliver a potted history of the company, you should be able to describe what drew you there. Perhaps they’re a start-up whose product really speaks to you, or maybe they’re an established name which you’ve always dreamt of working for.
  2. Talk about values: modern companies put a huge amount of stock in their values and culture, and rightly so. This topic will almost certainly come up in the interview, as the panel will want reassurance that whomever they hire will be a good fit for the wider team. Therefore, It’s only going to play in your favour if you can talk specifically about what you like about the company values and culture. A lot of organisations list their values publicly on their website, for example, you can check out ours here. So do some research and really wow them with your knowledge.
  3. What you can do for them: companies hire for a reason. They’re missing a current skillset that they need to have. The best way to show them that you’re that piece of the puzzle is by becoming very familiar with the job description, so you can, point-by-point, make your case in the interview.
  4. Bonus points if you can speak to upcoming projects: some companies telegraph big initiatives they have on the horizon, and, particularly if you’re in the same industry, you may have heard about these through your network. Talking about how you’d love to be involved in such initiatives not only demonstrates enthusiasm, but also shows that you have your finger on the pulse of what’s taking place in the business right now.

Next, talk about why you would benefit from taking the role.

Why you want the job – your perspective

One of the biggest mistakes people make when answering this question is only talking about themselves. This is why we put the company perspective first, because it’s vital you show the panel how you working for them is beneficial for the business as well as yourself.

That said, businesses want to hire people with drive and ambition, so it’s a good idea to mention how this job will fit into your career plan.

In this part of your answer, we advise talking about:

  1. How you can use your existing skills but also grow and learn: you want to use any chance you get to mention how your past skills and experience set you up for success in the role you’ve applied for. However, you don’t want to look like you’re taking the job as an easy option. Mention how some elements of the role will stretch you in new ways, but ways that you’re confident you can meet.
  2. Talk about what you’d enjoy: it’s very easy to get caught up in showing how you can do everything they need you to. But not everyone will talk about why they think they’ll enjoy the daily responsibilities of the job. This will again serve to show that you’re applying for the job not only as a source of income, but as something you’ll have fun doing, and thus brighten up the working days of those around you.
  3. Tie it into your desired career trajectory: while this shouldn’t be the focus of your answer, you can talk about how this job will help you get where you want to go long term. It’s crucial that you don’t make the job sound like a stepping stone, so don’t name-drop other organisations you’re hoping to work for in the future. But there’s nothing wrong with talking about the skills ou know you’ll learn in the job.