Number 1 job interview question

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 - career transition, CV Tips, Employment, Job Application, Job Interview, Job Interview Questions, Job Interview Techniques, job search


Number 1 job interview question

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The key question at any job interview is:

Why do you want this job?

Why are you interested in this job?

Or in its alternate poison tipped version, aimed directly at you started with a “In your own words, tell me….”

Why do I want this job?

Why I want this job?

If you get asked this version of the question, take it as a sign of being in trouble/struggling in the interview:

Why did you apply for this job?

The problem with this question and its variations is two fold:

  • In either version, its aimed straight at you
  • It is the most sales-orientated answer for a question you are likely to be asked, when for most you just don’t sell in your job, let alone yourself

But here is why interviewers ask this question: it quickly and easily sorts the “really interested” from the click to apply applicants

How to answer job interview questions

As with all interview questions, the key to answering them is to:

  1. If necessary, gain clarity
  2. Reverse state the question, ie: “the reason I want the job is……”
  3. Pick no more than three points (eg: great company, on my career path, no need to relocate)
  4. Explain why they are the key issues
  5. Be brief to allow interviewer intervention, over digging yourself a hole!

But the real issue with this question is that it shows the depth of research that you as a candidate have done on both the role and the company. In other words, have you checked functional as well as social fit?

In my experience as a recruiter, and trained interviewer, this is a pressure question for all candidates. So don’t worry if you feel pressure, that’s what we want.

This is also a wholly legitimate and legal question: its not sexist, racist, ageist, etc, its just a why this job/company? But, because it is a legitimate question, and combined with some pressure, often it is a question candidates give openings to interviewers to ask more personal questions from. So beware your answer, and keep it focused on answering the question and not giving away other openings/details.

As a CV Writer, this question is also important to me, and is often one of the first questions I ask a potential client. What shocked me most as a CV Writer was that most people don’t have an answer to this question; where as a recruiter, everyone knows they have to answer this question, and while most would prefer not to, they make a swing at it.

Why the difference, and how best to answer this question? Simply, most people these days don’t plan a career – they just survive or exist, and when they feel uncomfortable or in need of a change, they apply for another job. Much as though most competent HR and recruitment systems will exclude the candidates who just click to apply, this is a better test of the same ethos: why this company/job?

The answer therefore to the number one job interview question is simple: plan your career, or at least manage it. You will then know when the right job appears, and be able from the point of application to the day of starting know why it is the right job for you, and why you are right for that employer.

Good Luck!

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