Job Interview Question: Why Do You Want This Job?

Why do you want this job? Often posed early in an interview, this question makes a great ice breaker because it is so open-ended. But you have to be prepared and focused to maximize the opportunity the question presents.

This is your chance to assert your enthusiasm about the institution and the open position. Genuine enthusiasm suggests a good work attitude. It is also a soft skill that is always attractive to an interview team.

When business guru Warren Buffett hires leaders for his company, energy is among the qualities he targets. Energy and enthusiasm are contagious, and for that reason these qualities are often viewed as team-building. Increasingly, hiring teams are making decisions that favor candidates with these and other soft skills because they prove so helpful in contributing to workplace cohesion.  

As you think about your reasons for wanting the job for which you are interviewing, allow yourself to truly get excited about the prospect of your involvement with this institution and in this role. And then use that enthusiasm to win over the interview team. 

Focus on the Institution

I’ve left job interviews wishing that I had more of a chance to flaunt the preparatory research I had done about the institution. I found that during my interview I couldn’t quite figure out where to discuss those details.

Use that data to formulate your answer to this question. It puts your money where your mouth is–you want this job because you’ve done the legwork to learn about this institution, and you’re impressed.

Also, if you have any personal experience with the institution–if you’ve attended an event there, took a class there or you know someone who works there and speaks favorably of the institution, this would also be a good time to share that feedback.

I’ve found that when I’ve shown the interview team how thrilled I am to be interviewing at their institution, they also get excited. And then they tend to share what they love about working there. This really does break the ice because it gets the interviewers talking about what they value about the institution they represent.

This will put you at ease. It also gives you valuable information about the professional culture where you are considering employment. Just as your energy and enthusiasm will make you a more appealing candidate to them, seeing their excitement about their workplace will be a good selling point for you.

Focus on the position

It’s also a good strategy to discuss what about the position excites you. Mention the qualities in the job post that you find appealing, and discuss how those fit in with your career plans and goals.

Be cognizant of who you are speaking with and taper your responses accordingly. If you are talking with human resources professionals, for example, you can be high-level in what you mention about career goals and how those align with the qualities listed in the post. If you are interviewing with the manager to whom the open position reports, you can get specific and talk shop about the details of the open job and why you think they fit with your career trajectory.

You have a lot of room to shape your response to this question. Be strategic, do your homework and engage the team with your enthusiasm.