Together with the question “Tell me about yourself,” the question “Why are you applying for this position?” is asked in almost every single job interview, that’s why it needs to be answered in a clear and concise manner.
In this article, we’re going to reveal the reason why employers ask this question, and the 2 steps in framing your response to catch the interviewer’s attention.
Why do employers ask this question?
Employers ask this question to know 3 things: how fit you are for the role, how well you know the company, and how you can reconcile both. This question also allows interviewers to get to know your passion for the job and the skills and competencies you posses relevant to the available role.
Most interviewers also want to make sure you’ve done your research of the organisation and the role. Following on from that, employers will evaluate you on your career aspirations and future plans, your motivation (in case you are hired), and the most appealing aspect of the job and the company to you.
What are the different variations of this question?
Keep in mind that each of these questions is basically asking the same thing, and each warrants a similar response:
- “Why do you want this job/role/position?”
- “Why do you want to work here?”
- “What motivated you to apply for this position?”
How to structure your response to this question?
To prepare for this question, you need to segment it into 2 aspects to enable you to formulate your response in a logical manner. If answered skilfully, your response can increase the chance that the interviewer will see you as the right candidate, therefore raising your likelihood of being hired.
STEP 1: Explain what you’re looking for in a company
As you’ve done your pre-interview research, have you come across aspects of the company values and goals that align with what you’re looking for? Can you say that what they represent aligns with what you represent?
What is it about the organisation that appeals to you? Ask yourself the question “Why do I want to work here?”
Once you start answering this question, you can in turn refine your answers down into easy to remember points. Focus your responses to include specifics. These include the organisation’s core values and reputation, growth or success, business model, target market, or your appreciation of the products/services it offers. Your response can also include non-position related things like the company’s social responsibility programs or anything that you find intriguing.
Your first point of research is always the company’s website. Read about its history, mission statement, product lines, achievements and awards. You can also do a Google search to get to know the lest trending articles and news about the company.
Lastly, use your most important source of research – your network. If you know someone who is working at the organisation or had worked there previously, get in touch with them. These ‘insiders’ can potentially help you obtain valuable information that are available elsewhere.
Example of a strong response: “Well, (company’s) iconic brand reputation is certainly a factor. But what I find the most exciting is your corporate social responsibility program. Giving back is a big part of my personal philosophy and I was excited to see there’s an opportunity to do just that here at (company).”
Example of poor responses: Just so you know, “It’s close to where I live” is never a good answer. Don’t use generic answers too such as “It seems like this is a super cool company to work for and it would be great to be able to get a job here” as these show that you haven’t done much research about the company.
STEP 2: Tell the interviewer something you noticed about the job that you specifically liked (and then align this with the skills and experience you bring to the table)
Aside from your knowledge of the company, you also have to show the interviewers that you’re capable of actually doing the job. Focus you answers on the skills required, using your personal experience to demonstrate them.
Employers are also after someone who will most likely add to the value of their organisation. If you can, use numbers to demonstrate how you can add value. For instance, you may have helped reduce cost, cut down cycle time or increase sales.
It’s not best to mention the salary, working hours or commute times as the main motivation for you wanting the job. Focus on how your hire might benefit the company instead of how working for the company benefits you.
Example of a strong response: “I’ve read the job description and noticed you’re looking for someone who can improve the daily workflow of your office. This is really exciting to me as I’ve already spent over 5 years doing this already, including managing a recent project where I automated the manual process of scheduling client appointments. This has resulted in the reduction of missed appointments by as much as 25% and in turn improved client satisfaction rate of my previous employer by approximately 40%. I think my ability to lead process improvement initiatives will help me contribute immediately in this area for you.”
Example of poor responses: Even if it’s true, don’t mention salary, hours or commute as the primary reasons you want the job. Wanting something out of a job is great, but not offering anything in return is a deal breaker similar to this example:
“I’ve heard that your company offers great benefits such as paid paternity leave, on top of numerous training programs that could help me strengthen my project management skills further. There are so many renowned specialists working for you too. I’d love to be surrounded by people I can learn from.”
Putting It All Together
For you to ace every “Why Are You Applying For This Position” question, keep in mind these techniques:
- Research the company and the position before you go to the interview;
- Start by saying what makes you excited to join the organisation (e.g. company values, mission, current challenges, etc.);
- Highlight what aspects of the position you find most interesting; and
- Align these with your skills and experience and how you plan to use these to benefit the company.
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