Considering a Job Switch? Prepare for This Tough Interview Question

The pandemic has shifted priorities for many, and thousands of people are quitting their jobs. The good news for job seekers is that there are a lot of options. So if you are itching to switch careers and looking for a job right now, this is a great time to be in the market. 

So if you think you may find yourself sitting in front of an interviewer soon, make sure you are well prepared for all the tough interview questions. Trying to land your dream job without proper interview preparation is like trying to get fit at home without the right at-home workout equipment or nutrition. I have interviewed hundreds of candidates during my career as a senior manager in management consulting. The candidates who stand out prepare well-crafted, honest answers that correlate their experience and goals to the job position.

You may be asked many questions during an interview, but one that I can guarantee you will be asked to elaborate on is: Why are you interested in this position? This question is one of the most common interview questions that hiring managers ask. But, unfortunately, it’s also one of the toughest to answer.

The question is intentionally vague and open-ended. In this post, I will share tips on how you can respond to ‘why you’re interested in a particular job role’ so that your response doesn’t seem forced or unnatural.

Why Do Employers Want to Know ‘Why’ You Applied to the Position?

The answer is straightforward! 

Employers want to ensure that:

  1. You’re genuinely interested in the position and are not just applying to every job.
  2. You understand the role and responsibilities of the position.
  3. You are motivated to work at the company.
  4. You have done your due diligence to confirm ‘fit’ with the position and company.
  5. You will actually accept the position if offered. Going through the interview and offer process is time-consuming for the candidate, interviewer, and company HR.

5 Tips on How to Prepare

Let’s talk about preparation! As you begin your interview preparation, collect your thoughts in a document or on a piece of paper. Then, write down specific one-line answers to the below points. Doing this will not only help you formulate answers for this question, but it will also help you prepare for many other types of interview questions as well.

So grab that pen and paper, and let’s get started.

1. Write Down 1 or 2 Goals that You have Set for Yourself

In itself, this can be a time-consuming and soul-searching exercise. You can have many goals, whether you want to increase your net worth, get physically fit, etc. For your interview, limit yourself to career-oriented goals that relate to the job position. 

All leadership seminars and career coaches provide training on approaching this exercise in an organized manner, using the SMART technique. 

What is the SMART Technique? 

When setting career goals, make sure they are:

  • Specific: Be detailed about 1 or 2 specific career-related goals that will benefit your career. As an example, list a particular position or role you want to attain. Ensure that it is related to the job that you are applying for, but don’t list the exact role as your goal. Your goal should still be a little aspirational. For example, it is acceptable to state that your goal is the next level up or a general leadership role in the same field.
  • Measurable: You should be able to measure success. In the example above, achieving the role you wanted and having the desired title is a quantifiable success.
  • Attainable: Be realistic about your goals. It is great to list ‘CEO of a fortune 500 firm’ as a long-term goal, but it should not be your immediate career goal if you are just starting your career.  
  • Relevant: Make sure that your goals are relevant to the job and field. Also, make sure that your goals are relevant to your professional background and experience.
  • Time-Bound: Set a timeline for your goals.

Here’s what a good goal should look like when you finish:

“In the next two years, I see myself leading the regional sales strategy for a large company in the physical fitness field.” 

2. Next, Give Some Thought to How This Job Takes You Closer to Your Goals

Setting goals can re-confirm if the job you are applying for is a good fit for you and will help you reach your professional goals. 

For example, if you have sales experience and your interview is at Bowflex for a senior-level sales role, you are heading in the right direction with the sample goal above.

Another example, if your goal is to become a successful trader in the stock market, interviewing for the same position at Bowflex may not bring you closer to your goals in the near term.

Remember that it is as much about how the specific role will fit your career goals, not just how you meet the job requirements.

3. Review the Job Posting and Prepare a Couple of Points That Interest You About the Role

Here are some ideas to get you going:

  • Is there something specific about the company or the industry that attracts you to work for them in the particular position? 
  • Are you excited about a new project or product that the company recently announced?
  • Have they announced any new industry trends or emerging technologies in which they will be investing?

4. Think About How You Will Benefit the Company

Choose a couple of points from your resume or experience that you believe have prepared you to succeed in this job. What makes you the ‘perfect and only candidate’ for this role? 

These should be specific examples of taking on new challenges or building experience directly related to the job posting requirements.

5. Finally, Time to Pull Together the Perfect Response

Once you have your notes from working through the four questions above, you need to put them together in a concise answer that flows and responds to the employer’s question. Follow this order as you’re bringing the information together:

  1. What do you like about the company
  2. What do you like about the job
  3. What do you have to offer the company
  4. How will this position challenge you to reach your goals

Sample Answers

Your answers should not sound rehearsed or memorized, but you need enough preparation for the responses to become second nature. Therefore, I polled multiple friends in senior management and HR positions. As per consensus, here are some sample answers that hiring managers want to hear from candidates.

“I am very excited to work for a brand like Tesla. The company is a true representation of what it means to be innovative and cutting edge. I have also read a lot about how Tesla’s regional divisions contribute to their respective communities through the outreach program, and I’m genuinely impressed.

 

I am interested in the Project Manager role you posted as it allows me to lead innovative cross-functional teams across business and technology. I have over ten years of relevant experience at a management & technology consulting firm where I led technology teams to launch multi-million dollar products. I was also the lead for all executive reporting, and I have a clear understanding of what is required to excel in the PM role at Tesla. I 

 

And finally, I believe that this position will allow me to thrive in challenges that are necessary for me to grow into an Engagement Manager role in the next five years for tech delivery & implementation projects.”

Conclusion

As you’re preparing for your next interview, I hope that the tips above help bring you one step closer to that dream job! The key is to be concise and remember that you want these responses to sound conversational. Work out two to three great examples of your achievements and formulate your responses around them. Test out all your answers on friends or family, go in prepared, and remember always to ask follow-up questions.

Good luck!

FAQs

Things to Avoid in Your Answers

As a bonus, here are some tips on what NOT to include in your answer.

  • Do not talk about benefits, perks, or salary as part of your answer.
  • Avoid mentioning anything negative about your previous employer.
  • Do not give a generic response – tailor it to the company and role (as per the tips above).

What are Some Similar Job Interview Questions That Are Actually Asking the Same Thing? 

Interviewers can phrase the question in many ways, but ultimately they are looking for a similar answer. Some variations of the question why you applied to this position are:

  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • Why did you apply for this job?
  • What made you apply to this specific position?
  • What is it about our company that interests you?
  • How will this job fit into your career goals?

 

 


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Ash & Pri are the Founders of AshandPri.com where they empower others to make smart money decisions across all aspects of life. They achieved financial freedom in their 30's and have traveled to over 30 countries, thanks to a disciplined approach to money management. Both hold an MBA degree and have 13+ years of experience in financial services, consulting, and telecommunications.