How to answer the interview question 'Why do you want this job?'
Give an honest answer that shows you’ll get the job done and not be a buzzkill at happy hour.
Explain to an interviewer why you want the job you're discussing.
Curtis Peterson was recently interviewing for a digital marketing manager position at SmartFile, an Indianapolis company that provides secure file sharing services, when his interviewer asked him what he knew was a make-or-break question: ‘Why do you want this job?”
Here’s how Peterson responded:
“I want this job because I've always loved building and marketing websites—even as a kid. I built websites when they were using frames and AltaVista was a decent search engine. I was 10 or 11. I've always been passionate about digital marketing, but I just didn't know I could make a career out of trying to get people to a website.”
He got the job.
When asked in an interview, "Why do you want this job?" you can answer using the following steps as a guide:
- Show how your skills match;
- Show your enthusiasm for the job;
- And show how you fit into the culture.
Peterson's answer illustrates what hiring managers really want to get when they pose this question: a sense of who you really as well as a sense of how you’d fit and add value to the organization.
The three ingredients below will help you craft a perfect answer that will keep you in the game. Word to the wise: One thing you should not say in response to this question is “Because I need a job.” That shows a lack of passion, and suggests you might not stick around if something better comes along.
Show how your skills match
At every point of the interview, you need to show your skills and ability to solve problems are a good fit for the company.
Go back to the job description and your earlier conversations with hiring managers to get a review what they’re looking for and craft your answer around that.
You say: “You’re looking for someone who can manage big software projects from across functions, and that’s exactly what I was doing when I worked at Company X. I managed a budget of $2 million, and a cross-department teams of 10 people that included developers, engineers, and creatives to bring 15 software products to market.”
Show your enthusiasm for the job
Your answer should show that you’ll be able to use or learn key skills in the position that are important to you, says Dawn C. Reid, owner of Reid Ready Life Coaching in Clementon, New Jersey.
While the question seems to ask about what you want, remember that it’s really about the employer. So even as you talk about what has you excited, put it into the context of how this will make you an asset to the organization.
Find a way to mention your long-term prospects at the company, and you can also quell the employer’s concerns about retention or edge out another candidate who might be a flight risk.
You say: “I’m excited to see there’s a lot of opportunity to use advanced computer skills in this position. Being able to build my skills and continue to develop in a growing company is important to me, and there seems to be long-term opportunities here.”
Show how you fit into the culture
The company isn’t just interviewing you to find out about your skills. They want to know if you’ll be a decent coworker. So your answer needs to prove that your goals and values are similar to the organization’s, says A.P. Grow, associate professor of leadership at City University of Seattle.
Your research for the interview—grilling friends you know who work there and reading up on the latest news about the company—should give you a sense of the firm’s mission and values. Find spots where they overlap with your story and present them in your answer.
You say: “This organization's priorities for ethics, teamwork and effectiveness match my own. What's most important to me is finding a place where individuals want to work together, as a true team. I see that reflected here. The match of what you need with what I can do is clear, and the additional benefit of having the same values and community interests lead me to want to be here more than anywhere else.”
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By Mike Simpson
Updated May 18th,2017
You’re funny. You’re smart. You’re a hard worker.
You’re a multi-lingual, multi-talented, able to juggle-ten-things-at-one-time, never-gets-tired, won’t-back-down-from-a-challenge, outside of the box thinker who is ready to tackle the world.
When it comes down to it, you’re the best person you know.
So why is it when an employer asks you in the middle of an interview “Why should we hire you?” you suddenly go all deer-in-the-headlights and blank?
Don’t worry. We all do.
That’s the joys of being put on the spot and asked to answer a question that can easily put a less prepared person into dangerous waters.
How do you answer it in a confident way without sounding conceited, cocky, or too self-assured?
On the flip side, how do you answer it without going too far in the opposite direction and coming off as wishy-washy, weak or indecisive, or worse…begging?
Ugh, this is a tough one!
Luckily, it’s one you can plan for ahead of time which means when you suddenly find yourself on the spot you can answer with something more intelligent than “Uh, because I’m totally unemployed and sorta desperate at this moment which means my standards for what I’ll do for money are pretty low and flexible right now, including working for you.”
Not the answer they’re looking for.
First off, why is this even a question you should answer during an interview? Why are they asking this? Haven’t we moved past this in 2017?
No, they’re not trying to be difficult, or give you an opening line to try out your best sarcastic zinger (again, try to avoid the answer “Because I’m totally awesome,” or any variation of that theme.), they’re looking to see if you have what it takes to prove to them that you honestly know what it takes to be a good fit for the position and that you posses the skills they’re looking for.
This is why hiring managers continue to ask this question… yes, EVEN in 2017. The reality is, this question isn’t going anywhere, because the theme of the question (or more importantly, the answer to the question) will always be of interest to the person doing the hiring.
What value do you add?
What are you bringing to the table that the other candidates aren’t?
What is it about you that will enhance your team? This company? Our brand?
These are all somewhat covered in the question “Why should we hire you?”, and you need to be prepared to give an answer that reflects them all.
Having said that, job seekers who aren’t prepared for this question often find themselves falling into two camps, the cocky roosters or the whining sheep.
The “Cocky Roosters” are the ones that answer with things like “Because I’m amazing at what I do and every day I’ll put in 110% and I’m better than any other person you’ve seen today or will ever see again…and let’s be honest, hiring me is just going to make you look even more awesome than you already are because clearly, you recognize true talent” (Points to self.)
Another thing the cocky rooster does is oversell themselves. Don’t misrepresent yourself or pump up your experiences or qualifications just to impress your interviewer. Not only will the truth eventually come out, but you risk being fired for false representation.
The “Whiny Sheep” are the ones that channel Woody Allen and grovel their way through this question. “Uh, well, I guess because I’m smart and I work hard and I’m totally willing to do whatever you need and I love everything I’m going to do here and really really want to be a part of this company and…”
Again, ew. Enough with the desperation! Also avoid false modesty or being too self-deprecating. Nobody wants to hire someone they feel sorry for…
How To Answer “Why Should We Hire You/Why Should I Hire You?”
Here at Interview Guys Headquarters, we have a little phrase we like to use known as the “perfect candidate.”
What is a Perfect Candidate?
Every company or organization has a certain type of person in mind when it comes to the position they are interviewing for. This person will usually need to have one, two, or even more specific Qualities that the organization believes in or puts a lot of emphasis on.
When the organization is conducting interviews, they will normally select the person who best exemplifies the specific qualities they are looking for.
This person is their Perfect Candidate.
(For more information on the Perfect Candidate and to learn how to answer ANY interview question perfectly, be sure to check our our blog article Job Interview Questions and Answers 101!)
Well, this question is the perfect opportunity for you to pitch yourself one last time to your potential employer and reinforce the idea that you are the perfect candidate!
The perfect candidate doesn’t get cocky with this answer and they certainly don’t beg.
As the perfect candidate, you’ve already taken the time before the interview to research the position and figure out exactly what they’re looking for…and how you match up to those needs.
Okay so having said all of that, here are the main points to remember when answering this interview question.
Top 5 Tips For Answering Why Should We Hire You?
1) “Tailor” Your Answer
As mentioned in the paragraph above, every organization has a specific set of Qualities that the potential hire needs to have in order to be successful in the position. It’s up to you to demonstrate that you have these Qualities, and the most important place to do this is in your answers to the interview questions!
If you would like to get 4 word-for-word “tailored” answers to “why should we hire you?” download our cheat sheet. CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR CHEAT SHEET
To ensure you are showing your hiring manager that you do in fact possess the Qualities they are looking for, you need to infuse these Qualities into your answers to the interview questions. Confused? Don’t worry, because we fully cover “tailoring” in our comprehensive blog article, Job Interview Questions and Answers 101.
2) Research the Heck Out of the Company!
How are you supposed to know which Qualities to highlight in your answer? Well, you need to roll up your sleeves and do a little research on the company… in other words, look for clues!
The first place you need to “mine” for these clues is in the job description, which is generally posted on the job board when you apply for the position. It will often contain a list of “required skills and abilities” (in other words, Qualities!) that you can highlight in your response.
Once you've done that, pay extra attention to the company's social accounts. Why? Because they use these accounts to reveal more about their "culture". More than ever, hiring managers are looking for candidates that fit into the culture of the company (and not just a fit in terms of skills and experience). By visiting their social accounts (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) you can get an idea of the types of people they hire, and therefore, and entirely unique set of Qualities.
3) What You Have That Others Don’t
Okay, so chances are you are going up against a group of candidates that all have very similar skills and experience. The trick is to set yourself apart, and you can do this by answering this question by highlighting a unique trait that you have that will contribute positively to the position (and work required).
For example, everyone who is competing for an administrative assistant role will have experience with answering phones, word processing and filing.
But let’s say you also had some project management experience, you could really emphasize your elevated skill at maintaining schedules and calendars, delegating tasks and making deadlines.
This little emphasis could really set you apart from the other candidates and leave you as a front-runner for the position.
4) Solve a Problem
If you have followed our advice from Tip 2, you have done a large amount of research on the company and in many cases have been able to identify a need or problem that has caused the company to post the job that you are currently applying for.
In answering “why should we hire you” you have the opportunity to provide a solution to any potential problems that the company you are applying to might be facing.
For example, you may come across a news item for a local hardware store that talks about how the lack of modernization of their computer systems has recently caused them to fall behind the industry standard in terms of their online ordering.
Seeing as how they posted a job for a systems analyst (which you are currently applying for), it would seem that you have the opportunity to offer a solution to fix the problem during your answer to this question.
Your answer might begin with, “First things first, I understand that you are having an issue with your online ordering. I would begin by…” and then offer a solution to the problem.
How could they resist?
5) Create a Pitch and Practice
Okay, so there is a really good chance that you will face this question during your job interview.
So there is really no excuse for you to be unprepared, stutter, or make any other little mistake that would indicate that you are not confident.
After all, this question is really all about confidence. If you can’t quickly and easily respond to this question then you won’t exactly be instilling a lot of confidence in the hiring manager.
So consider the tips that I provided above and formulate a response that is natural and
You then want to find a colleague and practice presenting your answer in a casual and conversational tone.
But not too casual, because this is a professional setting and you always want to remain assertive and business-like.
I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again…this is another great opportunity to tailor your response so that it fits perfectly with the job you’re interviewing for.
Yes, this is a question that will come up in a lot of interviews, but that doesn’t mean just one answer will cover them all.
Make sure for each and every interview you go to that you’ve done your research ahead of time and made sure your answer fits the job as well as the company!
What do you mean, the job as well as the company?
Remember all that research you did ahead of time to figure out what sort of company you’re interviewing with?
Well, here’s an opportunity to use some of that information in a new and (gasp) unique way! Remember when we said in hint #3 to focus on what sets you apart? This is a great way to do it!
If you’re interviewing for a job with a company that puts a lot of value in volunteer work outside of the office, that’s something you can use to help add weight to your answer!
If you’re interviewing for a job with an employer who values a team environment, don’t talk about how great you are as a lone wolf!
So, ready for a few good example answers?
Of course you are!
But remember, these are only examples.
You need to make sure you tailor your responses appropriately!
3 Great Example Answers
Scenario #1) You’re applying for a job as a project manager. You’ve got tons of experience but know that you’re also up against some stiff competition with equally qualified candidates. How do you make yourself stand out?
A)When I read the job posting I noticed that you specifically mentioned you were looking for someone with project management experience. As you can see on my resume I have over 10 years of experience as a project manager, but what I think really sets me apart from other candidates and will make me a valuable addition to your team is my ability to combine that with my people skills. I really value lasting relationships and actively seek to build those with developers, vendors and senior managers alike. I also enjoy interacting with customers and know that a happy customer is a repeat customer. My passion for this industry and the job I do drives me to deliver high-quality work every day.
Wow. Confident, targeted, focused and brief!
It also allowed for a bit of uniqueness to be thrown in with the quick anecdote about lasting relationships and customer service. This answer is great because it quickly highlights a skill that was listed in the posting and how the candidate matches up as well as give a short little peek into a personal philosophy that is unique to who they are.
Ready for another one? Ready for a harder one? What if you’re applying for a job you’re not really experienced in? Recent college grads…pay attention! This one is for you!
Scenario #2) You’re a recent college graduate trying to get your first job in retail. You’ve never had actual paid employment before but did spend several summers as a volunteer. How do you make the experience you have match up to the experience the hiring manager is looking for?
A) I’m a very motivated worker and a fast learner and although I’m new to the world of retail in general, I’m not new to customer service. I noticed in your job posting that a big part of this position is interacting with customers. During my time working as a volunteer tour guide at the Zoo during the summer, I realized just how much I enjoyed helping people out and ensuring that our visitors were not only well taken care of, but that their experience was a positive one. I’m excited by the prospect of bringing this same level of commitment and enthusiasm to this new and exciting opportunity and I think this position is a great fit for me.
Nicely put! If you find yourself in a similar position where you lack experience, rather than resorting to begging or waffling your way through…take the opportunity to showcase how the experience you do have relates to what you want to do.
Okay, one more. This is one for people who are changing careers.
Scenario #3) You’re switching careers and the job you’re applying for is in the banking industry but your background is construction management. How do you make your past work history mesh well with what you’d like your future work to be?
As you can see by my resume, the majority of my employment history has been as a construction manager, a role which has given me a good understanding of how regulated businesses, including banks, work. I noticed in your posting that you were specifically looking for someone to help manage and coordinate new accounts. As a construction manager, I was responsible for not only organizing employees and tracking projects, but was also responsible for managing corporate accounts, employee payroll and company credit cards. I developed a good understanding of the current regulatory environment for banks and how they meet the tracking and reporting requirements as they relate to the accounts I managed. I am confident that my past experience will translate well into the position you are offering and I am excited to begin this new chapter in my career.
FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our "Why should we hire you Cheat Sheet" that gives you word for word sample answers that cover a wide range of positions and situations.
CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR CHEAT SHEET