Something drew you to the job you just applied for. Perhaps it was the supportive company culture, their cool social media pages, or it checks off all the boxes for your dream job. It’s sparked an interest of some sort, and you need to hold onto that feeling for a reason.
But before you race ahead of yourself, you need to prepare for the job interview. Some questions might be straightforward, but others will force you to think deeper about what draws you to this position.
“Why are you interested in this position?” is a common job interview question with a lot of meaning. But regardless of what drew you to this job posting, you might have trouble putting it into words. You might make some common job interview mistakes and derail your opportunity.
Let’s go over how to answer “Why are you interested in this position?” like a pro. We’ll explain what a great answer looks like and what common mistakes to avoid to make sure you land that new role.
What is the purpose of the question “Why are you interested in this position”?
The interview process is filled with strategic questions. But the interview question, “Why are you interested in this position?” tells the hiring manager a lot about you. It’s one of those questions that either raises immediate red flags or gives the green light to move you forward. Plus, it’s unique to you, and takes thoughtful planning and consideration.
In this one question, the hiring manager wants to hear about your skill set, previous work experience, and what you’ll contribute to a new team. They want to know if you’re only interested in the position because the job description describes fun work perks or a high salary or if you’re really interested in working work toward success.
The hiring manager isn’t looking for a vague answer. They want the specifics. They want to know why you want to be an engineer in this particular position at this particular company. You need to demonstrate how your work values align with the company’s mission and how you’ll help them achieve that.
One big thing the hiring manager wants to see is that you’re motivated to work at this new job. Gallup studied the impact that engaged and motivated employees have on their workplaces, and their findings proved that it’s an important quality that hiring managers should look for. They found that engaged and motivated employees:
5 steps to build a strong answer to “Why are you interested in this position?”
“Why are you interested in this position?” doesn’t have to stump you. By planning ahead and building a great answer, you’ll build more confidence and feel comfortable answering in the interview. And the hiring manager will definitely notice.
But building a strong answer takes preparation. It’s not something you should leave until the last minute. The more prep work you put in, the more knowledgeable you’ll feel.
Here are five steps to follow to build a great answer:
1. Research the company and position
The last thing you want to do is walk into a job interview and know nothing about the company or the job itself. Do some research. Check out the company’s mission statement, goals for the future, and anything you can find online about company culture. Reach out to current employees on LinkedIn to ask how they like their role.
You should also analyze the job description itself. Understanding the basic requirements, roles, and responsibilities will help you envision yourself in this position even more.
2. Find commonalities from your research
What’s your research shown you? Take the time to sit down and find commonalities to start constructing your answer. Does the company really value collaborative work, and does that happen to be one of your strengths?
Do your professional goals align? Are you a good cultural fit, and do you agree with their mission statement? This is an opportunity to streamline your information while getting specific. Sift through what’s relevant and what’s not so your answer is more concise.
3. Connect your skill sets to the job
It’s time to explain why you, in particular, are the best person for the job. Reflect on your past experiences and how they’ve prepared you for this new job. Discuss your skills that match the roles and responsibilities and complement the company values. And make sure to use examples to be more descriptive.
If you find that the company needs something in particular, highlight how your skills will help them. An example is if the company wants more integrity in their work environment. Describe how you lead by example, talk openly, and value honesty yourself.
4. Take time to explain your passion and motivation
You can’t forget about your true passions. Plus, they’re hard to contain, so let them out and make them known. Talk about your work values, life purpose, and career motivations.
What makes you jump out of bed in the morning? Including this as part of your answer will help show the recruiter that you come to work as a Whole Person and will positively impact on the team.
5. Talk about where this job sits in your career path
You want to demonstrate that you see a purpose in this job, even if one of those purposes is for your career path. This part of your answer shouldn’t elude that you’re only interested in the job to improve your career trajectory, but highlighting this will demonstrate why the job makes sense for you.
Be honest with why you’re on the job search, too. Many people are looking for new jobs, so there’s nothing to hide. What’s known as the Great Resignation has brought the U.S.’s quit rate to a new high in November.
Among other reasons, 63% of workers say they’ve quit their jobs because they don’t see an opportunity for advancement or growth. If this is you, highlight that. It shows you have a growth mindset and don’t want to be in the same position forever.
Find support from someone who’ll help you cultivate a great answer. At BetterUp, our coaches will provide the guidance you need to strengthen your research and communication skills to answer this question with clarity.
Common mistakes to avoid
Learning how to build a great answer should also include learning what to avoid saying. Everyone makes mistakes, but you really want to avoid them during a job interview. They could even cost you the job opportunity altogether.
Your mistakes could be simple, like rambling on or answering the wrong question. To be clear, “Why do you want this job?” differs from “Why are you interested in this position?”
Questions framed as “Why do you want to work here?” ask how the new role would fit with your career development and why you need a job at this company. “Why are you interested in this position?” asks you to describe your existing skills, what you value in the company, and your knowledge about the company and its goals as they relate to this specific role.
Here are five common mistakes that job seekers make when they give their answers:
- Being too broad and not articulating their words well
- Focusing only on themselves and their career development
- Ignoring the company and the job itself
- Talking about money and salary right away
- Forgetting to mention any of your interests or passions
Sample answers to “Why are you interested in this position?”
If you’ve never answered this question before, it might be difficult to think of what a stellar answer sounds like. But that’s why you study example answers. Seeing how others frame their answers and their tone is inspiring.
Depending on the job opportunity, your answer might still look completely different from someone else’s. But don’t sweat it. Everyone has different past experiences and interests, so your answers will be unique to you. Having a vague idea of what someone else says will help you decide what you do and don’t want to include in your response.
Here are two “Why are you interested in this position?” sample answers:
1. I have been participating in your yearly run raising money for cancer since my mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was a teen. I always knew it was a popular event, but I’ve learned that it’s been growing exponentially, with your participants doubling nearly every year.
The events coordinator position is fundamental for raising money and awareness, and it needs to be done with precision. I’m an organized and detail-oriented worker who thrives under tight deadlines and can handle multiple projects at once, as this position requires.
Your values and mission are near and dear to my heart, and I’d be honored to contribute my efforts to such an inspirational organization.
2. I’m interested in this position because I understand that the person hired for this job will help (company’s name) double their production numbers by the end of the year. (Company’s name) sets ambitious and detailed goals, and I admire the change they want to create in the community.
I love setting realistic but challenging career goals, so (company’s name) really resonates with me.
I boosted my current job’s sales and productivity numbers by over 35% within a year, and I’m motivated to make the same impact here. This position also offers a managerial opportunity, which I’m looking to gain experience in to help me become a better leader and employee in the future.
For the future
The question “Why are you interested in this position?” is really your time to shine. You have the opportunity to talk about what motivates you at work, your passions, and what impact you’d make. It’s when you reflect on your past experiences but talk excitedly about the potential future.
Sometimes during a job interview, you become stiff and nervous. That’s normal in stressful situations. But that doesn’t mean you should act like a robot. Be your authentic self, and let your passion shine through.
We’ve discussed a lot of professional tips to remember and common mistakes to avoid, but let’s end this article with some more light-hearted advice
Here are a few final things to remember when you answer this question:
- Bring your best smile to the interview
- Don’t hide your enthusiasm
- Make eye contact when you talk
- Don’t be afraid to laugh