By Marc Burrage

Viewpoint Hays —

It’s one of the most common interview questions, and often one of the easiest to slip up on.

On the face of it, the interviewer is simply asking “Why you sat across from me in the interview room today?”

As such, many candidates provide simplistic answers like “I want this job because I need a new challenge” or “because you seem like a good company to work for”.

But these candidates often won’t make the interview shortlist.

The interviewer isn’t going to be impressed by generic answers they’ve heard dozens of times before. After all, these answers don’t tell them what they really want to know – why this candidate is interested in this job at this company.

Hiring new people takes time and money, as such your answer needs to reassure the interviewer that you would make for an engaged and passionate new hire, and will stay and do great things for the company. With this in mind, here’s how to structure your answer when the interviewer asks, “Why do you want this job?”

Take a more personal, considered approach to set yourself apart from the rest as the right person for the job. (Thinkstock Photo)

1. Explain why you are passionate about the company

People who are passionate about the company they work for are almost always high performers who go above and beyond to achieve success, both for themselves, and for the company.

It may be that you hadn’t heard of the company before coming across the opportunity, or perhaps you have always been interested in the brand. Either way, it’s important that you communicate your passion and enthusiasm for the company when answering this question. Talk about how you feel the purpose of the company aligns with your own values, which products and services particularly excite you and how impressed you were by their recent financial results, awards or accolades.

2. Explain why you are passionate about the role

When listening to your answer, the interviewer also wants to feel assured that you would not only be good at the job, but that you would actually enjoy doing it. So, when answering this question, show your passion and enthusiasm for the role by highlighting what specifically excited you about this role when you read the job description initially, and why.

3. Explain how this opportunity would allow you to progress

It’s important to remember that the interviewer will, in all likelihood, want to recruit someone who has the potential to provide value not just now, but in the long-term – someone with ambition, drive, and a commitment to self-improvement.

As such, when answering this question, explain that you want to grow your skills and how you think specific elements of the role would allow you to do this. Next, go on to outline why you would like to grow your skills and progress your career at this particular organisation.

4. Reiterate that you’re pleased to have been asked to the interview

Lastly, finish by reiterating that you are pleased to have been invited to interview for this role and showcase your suitability for it.

An example of the perfect answer

Below is an example of a strong answer given by a marketing executive interviewing for a role in the cyber security industry:

“Cyber security is such an important, ever growing and ever changing industry. It’s an industry I’ve grown to be very passionate about over the years, and during this time, I have paid close attention to XXX as a pioneering market leader. I know that you provide robust, pre-emptive solutions and I read your industry commentary with interest regularly. Needless to say I was very excited when I saw you were hiring for this job.

When I initially read the job description for the role, one of the things that particularly appealed to me was that it has a strong social media focus, which is perfectly suited to my strengths. Whilst social media marketing is my strongest skill, I am aware that as a profession it is always evolving and I will need to continuously develop my expertise. Working for a forward thinking market leader such as XXX, with a sophisticated and strong social media strategy, will allow me to learn from the experts, keep my finger on the pulse and progress to my full potential using the learning and career opportunities available.  

To sum up, this role and company is well suited to my interests, skillset and ambitions, and I am very pleased to be interviewing for this opportunity.”

Let me assure you, providing an answer which includes the above elements will be music to the interviewer’s ears. As I said in the beginning, in all likelihood they will hear the same sorts of answers from candidates time and time again. However if you can take a more personal, considered approach to your answer, you will set yourself apart from the rest as the right person for the job.

Marc Burrage is a Managing Director at Hays.