During an interview, one of the most common questions you may encounter is, “Why are you applying for this position?” or “Why did you apply for this job?”
This question requires careful consideration and preparation to ensure you provide a strong and compelling response.
Are you prepared with what you want to say?
In this article, we will explore why employers ask this question.
How to answer it effectively, common mistakes to avoid, and provide sample answers to inspire you.
Let’s get started…
Table of Contents
Reasons Employers Ask Why You Applied For This Job
Employers ask questions like, “Why did you apply for this job?” or, “Why are you interested in this position?” for 2 big reasons.
Firstly, they want to ensure that candidates have conducted thorough research and possess knowledge about the job requirements.
Secondly, they seek individuals who have contemplated their career goals and have a clear understanding of what they are looking for.
Employers prefer candidates who demonstrate focus and dedication to a specific type of job.
Conversely, if you appear uncertain or lack clarity regarding your career path, employers may perceive you as someone who could change their mind or quickly become disinterested in the role.
I’ll give you an example:
Imagine a company hiring a salesperson, and one candidate expresses interest in various job types without a clear understanding of sales. They applied simply because they stumbled upon the job posting online and needed work. On the other hand, another candidate states, “I applied for this position because I am passionate about pursuing a sales career, and I see this opportunity as a perfect fit for my goals.” In this scenario, the company will likely choose the second candidate due to their genuine interest and alignment with the role.
That’s why it’s so important to have a great answer for why you’re applying for this position and why you’re interested in this position.
…And why it’s important to make sure you’re ready to answer other questions like:
The bottom line is: Employers want to hire someone who cares about their career and has thought about their career path and future. And they don’t want to hire somebody who doesn’t know much about their particular job or didn’t do any research before the interview… because it shows them you either don’t know what you’re looking for or are desperate and don’t care).
Now that you know why they ask, let’s look at how to answer this interview question…
How to Answer “Why Are You Applying For This Position?”
Now that we’ve looked at the reasons employers ask this interview question, let’s look at how to give the best answer possible while avoiding traps/mistakes that can cost you the job.
There are three steps you should follow when answering, “Why are you applying for this position.”
Here they are:
1. Explain something specific that you’re looking for in your job search
This can be an opportunity for advancement, a chance to continue building your skills in a certain area (like sales, project management, cancer research, Java programming, etc.), a chance to get involved in a new area (like moving from individual contributor to manager), or any number of other things.
The key is to have something specific you’re targeting, rather than just saying, “I need a job.” No employers want to hear that! You can name the industry you want to be working in. The type of role. The size or type of company (for example a start-up).
There are so many things you can talk about here, but you need to have something to demonstrate you’ve thought about what you want to be doing in your next job.
That’s the first step to being able to answer, “why did you apply for this position?” And you need to make sure whatever you say fits their job and company. You’ll see why in the next step.
2. Tell them something you noticed about THEIR job that you liked
After you show them you’re targeting specific things in your job search, talk about what caught your interest. You could mention details you saw on the job description, on the company website, etc.
Show them you understand what their role involves and are excited to be doing the work! Don’t worry if this sounds difficult, I’ll share full answer examples soon.
Here’s the final step, though:
3. Recap what you’ve said to show exactly how their job fits what you’re looking for
This final step is “tying together” everything you’ve said so far. You’ve told them what you’re looking for, you’ve told them why their job seems interesting, so now you just need to conclude by saying something like, “So that’s why I applied for this job – it seems like an opportunity to build the specific skills I want to be learning in my career while working in the industry I’m most interested in.”
For this final step, you can also consider adding a bit about how your previous experience will help you do well in your job.
Using the same example ending above, you could add a sentence to the end and say, “So that’s why I applied for this job – it seems like an opportunity to build the specific skills I want to be learning in my career while working in the industry I’m most interested in. Also, since I’ve been doing this exact type of work for the two previous years in my current job, in this same industry, I’d be able to hit the ground running and start contributing immediately to your team’s efforts.”
This demonstrates that you not only understand the job requirements but also appreciate the broader context in which you would be working.
Here’s why this type of answer will impress the interviewer:
- You’re showing them you understand the job and took some time to research. Remember, they want to hire someone who wants THEIR job, not just any job.
- And you’re showing them that you’re targeting specific things in your job search. This shows that you care about your career, which they’ll love. Why? Because it means you’re more likely to work hard, put effort into learning, and stay a while (if the job is good!)
- And finally, you’re reminding them how you can help them, rather than just talking about what you want.
Let’s look at some word-for-word sample answers now…
Example Answers to “Why Are You Interested in This Position?”
Now that you know the 3 steps to create your own answer, here are some full example answers you could give for questions like, “Why are you interested in this job?” “why did you apply for this job?” etc.
Answer Example #1
“I’ve been working in digital marketing for 5 years and it’s a field I enjoy a lot and want to continue growing in. I applied for this position because after reading the job description, it seems like a great opportunity to continue building digital marketing skills – like social media marketing and Facebook advertising. And since I’ve been doing this exact type of work for three years with my last employer, I’d be able to hit the ground running and start contributing immediately to your team’s efforts.”
Answer Example #2
“In my next position, I’d like to continue building my project management and leadership skills. I reviewed the job description and saw an emphasis on team leadership and project management, so it seemed like a great fit. And since I’ve already spent 3 years managing 7-figure client projects and leading a team of five people in my most recent company, I’m confident that I could get up to speed very quickly and start contributing results for you in this role.”
Answer Example #3
“Right now, I’m looking for more leadership, since I’ve been in my current position for 4 years managing projects across our department. I saw on your job description that this person you hire will manage 4-5 projects, and will also have the chance to train a team of their own in the future and get into direct management. That’s something that excites me a lot, and unfortunately, my company can’t offer that right now, so that’s a major reason that I wanted to apply for this job in particular. I think my past experience leading projects would help me contribute immediately in this role. Can you tell me more about what type of leadership this position can grow into over time?”
As another way to stand out in the interview, you can end your answer with a question of your own. You can see this in the example above. This is one of my favorite strategies to recommend because it turns the interview into a back-and-forth conversation and helps you build rapport with the hiring manager.
Remember, these are just sample answers, and it’s crucial to tailor your response to your own experiences, skills, and the specific job you are applying for.
Benefits of ending your answer with a question for the interviewer/hiring manager:
- The hiring manager will start to see you as a colleague and someone they can picture themselves working with
- They’ll respect you more.
- You’ll seem like a more in-demand candidate because you’re asking great questions and evaluating them, not just trying to get the first job you’re offered
- It’ll make the whole interview more conversational and less like an interrogation. The result? You’ll feel a whole lot calmer and less stressed. Which means you’ll give way better answers.
Now, before we wrap up, let’s cover a few mistakes and traps to avoid when answering…
Avoid These Mistakes When You Answer “Why Did You Apply For This Job?”
While answering the question, “Why are you applying for this position?”, there are a few common mistakes you should avoid:
1. Lack of preparation:
Failing to research the company and the job requirements can leave you with vague or generic answers that do not resonate with the interviewer. Take the time to understand the company’s mission, values, and the specific responsibilities of the role you are applying for.
2. Focusing solely on personal benefits:
While it’s important to convey how the job aligns with your career goals, avoid solely emphasizing what you can gain from the position. Instead, strike a balance by discussing how your skills and experience can contribute to the company’s success and growth.
3. Being too general or vague:
Generic responses like “I need a job” or “I’m looking for a challenge” do not provide enough insight into your motivations and goals. Be specific about the skills you want to develop, the industry you are passionate about, or the impact you want to make in your chosen field.
4. Negativity towards previous experiences:
Avoid speaking negatively about your current or past employers, colleagues, or work experiences. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of the position you are applying for and how it aligns with your career aspirations. That’s a rule you can follow in any of the interview answers you give.
So That’s It… Now You Know How to Answer:
- “Why did you apply for this job?”
- “Why are you applying for this position?”
- And many other similar questions
When answering the question, “Why are you applying for this position?“, it’s important to demonstrate your understanding of the job requirements, showcase your enthusiasm for the role and the company, and align your aspirations with the opportunities the position offers.
By avoiding common mistakes and crafting a thoughtful response, you can impress the interviewer and increase your chances of landing the job.
Remember to prepare in advance, practice your answers, and let your genuine passion and motivation shine through. Good luck!