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If you’re preparing for a job interview, it pays to ask yourself: “Why am I applying for this job?”
This is one of the most popular types of interview questions. But just because you might have answered it in a previous interview, that doesn’t mean you can expect to automatically reel off a perfect response at a moment’s notice.
Just like a lot of other seemingly difficult interview questions, the meaning isn’t immediately obvious. At first, it sounds like the hiring manager wants to hear what you’re looking for in a job — the goals you want to achieve, the skills you want to acquire, the salary you want to earn.
While that’s true to an extent, the reality is that the interviewer also wants to know that you’ve done your homework about the job specification and company. Do you have all the necessary skills and qualifications? Do you buy into the organisation’s mission and vision? Do you love the company culture?
Specifically, they want to find out that you:
In other words, that innocuous-sounding seven-word question is hiding a lot of unspoken detail. With that in mind, in this article we’re going to consider how to answer: “Why have you applied for this job?”
When planning your answer, it can help to imagine that you’ve been asked a slightly different question: “What interests you about this role?” This makes the true intent behind the question a lot clearer.
Start your preparation by scribbling down what you see as the company’s strengths. For instance:
Clearly, you’ll only be able to answer those questions if you take the time to research your prospective employer. Remember: a career change is a big deal, so you shouldn't leave anything to chance. Only by digging into the company can you be sure that you’re making the right decision.
Having clarified in your own mind that this is definitely a company you want to work for, you can reference this information in your answer, as well as demonstrating why you’re the perfect candidate for the role. Here are three ways to get it right:
To avoid giving a vague response to this open-ended question, hang your answer on a quantifiable, real-world example that speaks to what you love about the job and how much you’d contribute to the company if your application is successful.
“The thing I like most of all about this job is the way it blends marketing skills with client communications, which I believe are two of my greatest strengths. In my current role, I’m responsible for talking my clients through marketing campaign performance and discussing their goals and strategy, and I helped my biggest client surpass their revenue target by 15% last year.”
Given that this question involves discussing what you like about the company in question, don’t be afraid to display some real enthusiasm in your answer. Unlike a lot of interview questions, where a more professional approach is best, a little passion can make your response a lot more believable (and memorable).
“Sales has always been my professional passion. I love being responsible for helping the company achieve its revenue goals, and I know that if the sales team hits its targets, the company can afford to grow and invest - and that way, everyone’s happy! Working as a salesperson in such a well-respected company, with one of the best products on the market, would be a fantastic opportunity for me.”
As we’ve explained throughout this article, research is the key to answering: “Why are you applying for this job?” The more press releases, news articles, videos, and social posts you read about the company in question, the better your response will be.
“I know you have a fantastic product, a growing customer base, and a great reputation. That’s very exciting to me. But the main reasons I’m applying for this role are that I love the job specification’s emphasis on collaboration - which is something I have a lot of experience of - and your corporate social responsibility goals, particularly how you donate a percentage of your profits to local charities.”
Preparing for an interview? Give yourself the best chance of success by checking out more advice in our job interview tips content hub such how avoiding common mistakes in a telephone interview.
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