“Why THIS job?”
This will be one of the most important questions you’ll be asked during a job interview. That’s right. One of the most important.
Because your answer gives the employer a lot of information: How well you’ve researched their needs, how much you know about their organization and how they work, if you “get” their culture, and how you see your skills and experience fitting what they need.
Any answer that sounds like “This position is the perfect match for my skills and experience” isn’t worthy of your brilliance. The enthusiastic “I’ve always wanted to work in this industry” won’t cut it either. And if you answer with “This is a company I’ve admired for a long time and I’d love to be a part of your team,” you’re dead to me.
Just kidding. Just don’t ever use that answer.
No one wants to hire a robot (unless you’re applying for a Robot II position, of course) and they’ve heard this same answer dozens of times before. It falls flat because it doesn’t provide any information that is helpful to the hiring manager.
Remember, they’re interviewing you because they’re interested in you – and they want to learn more about you. What interviewers want is to sit across the table from someone who’s authentic. (Novel concept, right? Nope. We’re all human and we all crave authentic interactions.)
If the goal is to give the hiring manager information that is helpful, what does that look like? Oh, I love how curious and tactical you are! OK, we’re going to go for honest, insightful and relevant.
Here’s an example from a recent coaching session with a client:
Me: So why do you want this job?
JR: It’s the next step in my career – bigger company, more responsibility. I’m ready to take that next step so I can continue to be challenged. (The answer she thinks they want to hear.)
Me: OK. Sounds like a good reason to want to make a switch. But why THIS job? In your own words, tell me what you’re thinking?
JR: What do you mean? I haven’t rehearsed anything.
Me: Tell me what you told your husband when you got home after the interview.
JR: I was so impressed with everyone I met, especially how every single person I talked to mentioned how the company supports taking risks. That’s not easy when they’re the industry leader, they know what they’re doing and they’re doing it really, really well.
Remember, they’re interviewing you because they’re interested in you – and they want to learn more about you. What interviewers want is to sit across the table from someone who’s authentic.
(Now here is where it gets exciting…) You know what their first question was? “Tell us about your last failure?” So I told them about the fiasco digital product we had to scrap after testing. I was surprised that my background is different from the rest of the team – I would be the only one with a finance background. And you know me – I enjoy trying to figure out what’s the story behind the numbers. I’m also from outside their industry and they asked me a lot about what I’d learned working for two failed start-ups and one that was really successful. I told them that those failures were my advanced degree in product management. It would a bumpy ride – they’re going through a lot of change right now, but I’m so excited.
Me: Perfect. You just nailed your answer.
JR smiled and took a few notes. Of course, her answer wasn’t perfect. But it was honest and I could tell, from watching her energy build as she described her experience and what they needed, that she knew it would be hard work, yet she was eager and excited to take it on. So here’s how JR answered the “Why this job?” question in the next round of interviews:
“When the first question I was asked last time was about a recent failure, I knew something was different at XYZ. It’s clear that you support taking risks – an I’m impressed that almost everyone I’ve spoken with has mentioned this about XYZ.
“Now I know that my background in finance is a bit different than the usual product manager – but numbers also tell a story, and I love trying to figure out that story. I’m not from your industry either, so I don’t have any pre-conceived notions about how things are done.
“And working for two failed start-ups and one that was really successful was my advanced degree in product management. I’d love to help XYZ take risks – and I’m prepared for the bumpy ride!”
Now you try it. Be authentic and you’ll nail it.
I’m Stacey Lane: Career Coach | Transition & Career Strategist | Personal Brand Specialist
I help individuals with unique backgrounds find their perfect fit and effectively market themselves so they find work that is as interesting as they are.
Contact me to get started!
Want to change jobs or career? Not to worry — you don’t have to start over! Instead: reinvent. How? Get immediate access to my recorded “Reinvent Yourself” free webinar to learn what I’ve helped countless clients do — pivot into a new career. Learn more here