You may be interested in a new job because of the increase in pay, a fancy new title, or the company’s brand. But if an interviewer asks you, “why are you interested in this position?” your answer needs to be more convincing than that. How?
Well, to start, you need to know the real motive behind this question. Because once you know that, preparing a fantastic answer is fairly simple.
So, let’s start by exploring that motive. Then, we’ll look at a 5 step formula to craft your answer and some examples of how to answer why are you interested in this position!
Why Do Interviewers Ask The Question, “Why Are You Interested In This Position?”
You may have heard that interviewers ask what interests you about this position because they want to find out if:
- You’re a good cultural fit
- You have a good understanding of what the job requires
- You didn’t just apply to the job at random (i.e. you actually want this job)
And these things are all true. But it’s not the full picture. Because there’s actually something much more important.
What Do They Really Want To Know?
Hiring is an expensive decision. If the company gets it wrong, it could cost them thousands. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bad hire can cost the company 30 percent of the employee's first-year salary.
On top of that, research on hiring shows a bad hire can also negatively affect things like company morale, team productivity, and client relationships. Not ideal!
So, what’s the real motive with this interview question? To assess risk. Because there’s a risk a bad hire could waste the company’s money and time. There’s a risk a bad hire could quit soon after starting.
Now, this might make this question sound intimidating. But it shouldn’t be! Proving you’re worth the investment is actually a lot easier than proving you’re merely interested. You just need to structure your answer in the right way. Let me show you how.
How To Prepare The Best Answer
There are 5 steps to preparing a strong answer to this question. Invest the time to follow each one, and I know you’ll have no problem knocking this question out of the park!
Step #1: Research the company’s current pain points
A good answer shows you understand the position. An excellent answer shows you understand what problems the position helps the company solve. You want excellent!
But how do you find those problems without working there? Well, you have several options. For example, you could speak to current employees, listen to the company earnings calls, find executive level employee interviews, or ask questions about the company on a site like Quora.
If you connect with current employees, you can ask questions like, “What’s the biggest challenge your team is facing right now?” For everything else, you’re keeping your eyes and ears open for statements like “we hope to do [goal], by [time frame]” or “we’re hoping/planning/struggling to do [goal]”. The pain lies in everything they’ll need to do to reach that goal.
All of these methods are the foundation of what goes into developing a Value Validation Project that can help you land a job. So, if you’re not sure how to execute on any of the ideas in these steps, be sure to check that post out as well!
Step #2: Understand how the position helps to alleviate the company’s pain
Now that you understand what problems this position can help solve, it’s time to also consider how the person in this position helps to solve them.
Again, you have several ways to do this: talk to current or past employees, ask the recruiter, analyze the job description, or do some critical thinking to form an educated guess.
If you connect with recruiters or employees, ask questions like, “What role did this department have in helping the company achieve x result?” When reading the job description, look for core responsibilities that would most likely aid in finding a solution to the problem. And, to make an educated guess, look to your past experience for times you solved a similar problem – what did you do then?
Step #3: Center your answer around the skills and experience that show you can solve that problem
With the research out of the way, you can begin working on your answer. The core message you express should be something like:
I understand that x is currently a pain problem for this company. And I know that this position helps solve that problem by doing x, y, and z. I’m interested in this position because I know — based on my skills and work experience — I can help solve that problem.
We’ll look at some examples of this kind of answer soon. But do you see now how it can crush doubt surrounding the risk of hiring you? Now, you just need to put the cherry on top with these next two steps!
Step #4: Show how the position and company culture fit your career goals and personality
Remember: companies also ask why do you want this job because they want to know if you’re a good cultural fit and that the job fits your career path. So, after you’ve said something similar to what we just saw in step 3, give them that information as well.
How would working at this company and this role help you get closer to achieving your career goals? What about the company culture stands out as something that matches your personality and preferred working style?
Tying the role to your career goals requires some self-reflection. But tying the company culture to your personality could involve speaking with current employees, reviewing the company’s “about us” or “careers” webpage, reading reviews on Glassdoor, and/or checking out any recent media coverage.
Step #5: Keep the conversation going with a relevant follow-up question
It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a video interview, a phone interview, or a traditional in-person interview – a good interview feels like a conversation. And you’re there to learn just as much about the company as they are about you. So, end your answer by asking a relevant follow-up question.
And guess what: asking a follow-up question is another sign to the interviewer that you’re actually interested in the position!
By following those steps, I know you’ll come up with a fantastic answer. But, for inspiration, I want to now show you two why are you interested in this position answer examples.
Example Answer #1
“I’m interested in this position because I’m excited by the opportunity to help create ABC company’s brand identity. After speaking with Jared on your digital marketing team about how the person in this position would aid him in converting more leads to customers, I know I’m a good fit.
In my last job, I was responsible for establishing and managing brand partnerships with several Fortune 500 companies that resulted in an 35% increase in brand awareness and a 10% increase in conversions among our target customer base in just 3 months. With your company in its early stages, I see a lot of opportunity to have even more impact while really honing my brand marketing skills.
On top of that, I love that everyone I’ve spoken to describes working here as a place where collaborations and the best idea wins. I also saw on your website that you guys value employees that continue to build on their skillset. Can you tell me more about the various initiatives that support the growth of your employees?”
Example Answer #2
“My understanding is that the person hired for this position will help the company double its sales over the next year by training team members to no longer rely on in-person meetings to close deals with potential clients. This is exactly the type of opportunity I’m looking for.
In my current job, I’ve helped our company solve similar problems. For example, I recently led our team to take our sales process fully online to adapt to all of the pandemic-related restrictions. Because I got our team to adapt quickly, we actually exceeded our goals for 2020 by 27%.
I love that you guys are also looking to adapt and embrace the opportunity to innovate. Does what I’m saying match what you see as the primary goals for the person hired for this position?”
What you’ve heard is correct. When asking about your interest in the position, interviewers are essentially asking “why are you a good fit for this position?” and “Why do you want to want to work here?” But that’s not all!
They’re also trying to figure out how much risk is involved with hiring you. So, put their doubts to bed by using this formula to prepare your answer:
- Research the company’s current pain points
- Understand how the position helps to alleviate the company’s pain
- Center your answer around the skills and experience that show you can solve that problem
- Show how the position and company culture fit your career goals and personality
- Keep the conversation going with a relevant follow-up question
And forming an answer like this isn’t just for this question. It’s how top performers prepare for interview questions of any kind! And once the interview is over, be sure to do something else top performers do to express interest: send a post interview thank you email!