Interview Tips

How to Answer: Why Did You Apply For This Job?

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By: Josie Steffey
Aug 14, 2020 • 10 min read

How to Answer: Why Did You Apply For This Job?

When asked this question, the answer seems obvious. Most people apply to jobs simply because they need the income or experience on their resume. However, answering with this blunt and lazy reason is not the way to go, even if it is honest. This question should be approached in a way that will impress rather than deter interviewers, which requires a more in-depth understanding as to what they really want to hear. How do you answer such an open inquiry in a way that attracts interviewers to want to know more about you? Read on to find out!

two person shaking hands near white painted wall

What is the interviewer really asking?

When an interviewer presents this question, they aren’t looking for a concise answer as to how you found the job position or even a direct statement as to why you would be a good fit. They are asking two things: What do you know about their company/job position? And, Do you know what you want in your own career? The interviewer wants to feel and see that they are chosen, not just another job that you are considering. So when they ask the question, “Why us?” respond enthusiastically and thoughtfully, while showing that you would be eager to take on the beliefs and mission of the company that you applied to.

Highlight the Values and Mission of the Company

Employers want to see that you have done your research about the establishment that you could potentially be working at. When you mention the company’s values and goals, it shows that you appreciate the same thing and could be a possible good fit. Often times, companies have a mission statement on their website. It may be a good idea to read over that and expand on how it lines up with your own core values. If their deep-rooted values aren’t vibing with you, then simply mention what stood out to you about the position. Why are they unique to any other job out there? The interviewer wants to know why you applied to their job, not just to any position. Make sure to talk details! It will do you very little good if you talk in vague terms, even if you do know a lot about the company. Broad responses will make you appear unprepared and disinterested, perhaps even a little desperate. Make sure you have one specificity ready to talk about regarding the job or company.

Specify Your Own Career Aspirations

Yes, you need a job, but the interviewer needs more information as to why you chose to interview with them. Use this opportunity to showcase your own career goals and try to make them naturally line up with what you know about the company. You could name the industry you want to be working in or the type of culture you want to be a part of. Consider talking about how this job would help you learn about a particular concentration or improve a skill in a specific area. There are a plethora of right ways to answer this question, but you must expand on something to demonstrate that you’ve thought about what you want to be doing in your next job.

man and woman talking inside office

Tie it All Together and Ask a Follow-Up Question

Summarize your two main points in the response and then follow it up with a question for the interviewer. This shows that you are genuinely interested in knowing more about the company and the role that you are interviewing for. Also, it creates a dynamic of conversation rather than an interrogation, which will make both parties feel more relaxed and level. If you leave your response as a statement, the interviewer can still work with that, but it would be better to ask a question so that they see you as a colleague rather than a mere prospective candidate. Questions show that you are interviewing them as much as they are you, and may help you gain more respect during the interview process.

Sample Answers:

  • “I saw an article in Forbes magazine about your company’s founder and CEO. It mentioned that he values hard work and loyalty. It would be an honor to associate myself with a company that appreciates these things.”
  • “I noticed that your mission statement holds charity work and community service in high regard. I would love to be a part of a company that upholds these values. Also, I have a colleague who worked for this company! They mentioned that you have a supportive and collaborative environment, which is the kind of culture I am eager to be a part of. How would you describe the work culture here?”
  • “I have always loved medicine and helping people. I saw on your website that you are a teaching hospital, and I am keen on improving my surgical skills. Since this innovative hospital offers a chance to learn, it would be a great opportunity for me to apply my current knowledge of medicine to an environment that is designed to train new members of the surgical team.”

Prepare

Do your research! Employers search to see if you are sincerely looking for a job with them. Research is the best way to demonstrate this! Passion and enthusiasm for the job will get you far. However, research will back up your emotional connection to the role with proven facts as to why you want to work at their specific company.

Mission statement

Many companies have websites with mission statements and an “About Us” page. Start there! Then, build off of that. Doing a quick internet search on Google may help acquire more information about the company, too. Another way to research the corporation is through networking. If you have connections in the field (a former or current colleague, a professor, etc.), use them! Their inside knowledge is more valuable than you know! It is impressive when you mention that you discussed this one position with other professionals on your own time. That is dedication and will show the interviewer that you are serious about a role to play in their operation.

Best wishes on your future interview! You’ve got this!

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