Updated 12 June 2020
The question “Why are you applying for this position?” is asked in almost every job interview, and needs to be answered in a clear and concise way. It tests your knowledge about the organisation, the role being offered and the industry surrounding it, all of which you should be able to demonstrate knowledge of.
The question also allows you to sell yourself to the interviewer by demonstrating your passion for the job, and the competencies you possess.
As mentioned, the two key angles in this question are your interest in the company/industry and your interest in the job. A strong answer will cover both.
Most interviewers want to know how much you have researched the organization and role, as very few candidates have done no research whatsoever. Following on from that, employers will judge you on aspects such as:
Bear in mind that each of these questions is essentially asking the same thing, and each merits a similar response:
It's useful to know what variants could arise, so you don’t get thrown out of your stride. Also, employers are looking for some individuality in your response, so the answer to each won’t be identical – just very similar.
Preparation for this question is a case of separating it into different aspects, allowing you to prepare a structured and logical response. If answered skilfully, your reply can raise the likelihood that the interviewer will see you as the right candidate, increasing your chances of being hired.
An example structure could be this:
Have you done your research into the company, its culture and its competitors? If so, you should be able to come up with coherent reasons for wanting to work there, such as the reputation of the company, its values, its growth/success, or your appreciation of the products/services it offers. Not only will it help you with the interview – it will also help you determine if you really want the position.
Just so you know, “It’s close to my house” is never a good answer. Don’t use these either:
Company research is key here. But you also have to show the employers that you are capable of actually doing the job. Focus your answer on the skills required.
Don't mention pay or benefits, as the employer wants someone interested in the job, not the perks.
Shape your answer on your current career goals and what you plan for the future, as well as your impressions of the working culture, and it will leave your interviewer with the impression that you are career-focused and interested in the company.
Employers hire people who enjoy their job and have good skills in that sector. Convey those two traits and you’ll be in a good position.
Finally, demonstrate to your interviewer what skills you possess, such as organization and decision making, using your personal experience to demonstrate them. Also, don't forget to mention why you are a unique and strong candidate for the job.
Employers are after someone who will most likely add to the value of their company. If you can, use numbers to demonstrate how you could save or make the company money, as well as where you have achieved this previously.
It is best not to mention the salary, working hours or commute time as the main reason for you wanting the job. Focus on how your hire might benefit the company, rather than how working for that company benefits you. Don’t put yourself in the limelight while in an interview.
The best way to practice is by doing as much background research as possible on this interview question and how to answer it. Click here to learn more about InterviewGold, the easy online interview training system. You get real questions, winning answers and expert advice – all specific to your target job, for just £59.95.
The first port of call should be the company website. Read about its history, its missions statement, its product lines, and its achievements and awards. Checking out the careers section is a must, to view job descriptions and perhaps find some sample interview questions. Follow their social media and sign up for their newsletter.
Next, do a Google search. Read different articles about the company and any news on them, such as a change of CEO or a new product line. Check the latest trending articles first but don’t forget to check out the older ones too.
Last but not least, use your most important source of research: your network. If you know someone who is working at the organisation or had worked there previously, get in touch with them. Or perhaps you can get introduced to someone who works there you don’t currently know, but a LinkedIn contact of yours can introduce you.
“Inside contacts” can help you gain some valuable information and maybe help you as a supporter. They will know how different departments work, will have a sense of what the ideal applicant should demonstrate, and will have some idea of how the HR department functions. Don’t use their name in the interview, however.
"I am impressed by [company]'s recent progress on its ethical stance, especially your current plans to phase out battery farming in your stores by 2025.
"I am looking to work at a company that shares some of my values, and I believe [company] is the perfect place to start.
"I know that you ask for long working hours – my commitments to the drama society at university show that I am willing to do what it takes. Also, my involvement with the local football team demonstrates my ability to work within a group environment and function cooperatively and effectively as your company requires."
"Your company is looking for someone proficient in sales and marketing, which are two of my primary skills.
"In my previous company, I was part of a team that raised sales revenue by 20% annually, in what was considered to be a flat industry at that time. My six years of experience in sales and marketing will be crucial in generating that kind of growth at [company]."
Other common interview questions which may arise in your interview include: