‘What interests you about this job?’ is a problematic question for anyone, even the most prepared interview candidate. A seemingly simple question that is often difficult to answer, it can result in a great interview going disastrously wrong.
Why Do Employers Ask This Question?
Recruiters who do ask it are looking to find out two things. Firstly, they want to know why you are interested in the company. Secondly, they want to find out why you are interested in the role specifically. A strong answer must cover both of these areas.
This is a question designed to explore your understanding of the job and how the post fits into the wider company. In particular, you should cover the key requirements, important skills and how your experience fits in with the recruiter’s needs.
What Employers Are Looking For In Your Answer
A recruiter or manager will be looking to understand the following from your answer:
- Your aspirations in terms of your career, and how the opportunity fits in with your wider career goals;
- That you are genuinely interested in the post and will have the motivation and commitment that they require;
- What you know about the company, the industry and the job. It will be easy to tell which candidates have done their research and those who haven’t;
- To learn about your preferences and priorities, including the elements of the job that appeal and your reasons why.
How To Research A Company
Now that you have a good understanding of why this question is asked, you will need to find out as much as you can about the company. There are several ways to research this, including:
The Company’s Own Website
A good business website should include everything from the mission of the company through to its history, awards and products. The ‘About Us’ page is a great place to start; look out for any press releases and media coverage about the company. Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter and check the company’s social media platforms.
Also, spend some time looking through the information on the careers page of the company website. You’ll often find valuable information about the recruitment process, perhaps including sample interview questions and job profiles.
Although the company website can tell you a great deal about the business, a Google search can tell you even more. Look out for company reviews on websites such as Glassdoor, and information on the application process on websites like WikiJob and The Student Room.
How To Demonstrate You Are Interested In The Job
Preparing an answer to this question is all about identifying what interests you about the job and the company. To help you form your answer, you should undertake detailed research as mentioned above, consulting the original job advertisement, the accompanying documents such as person specification, and the company website. This information should provide you with all the details that you need to build up a comprehensive picture of the organisation and the role.
Before you attend an interview, draw up a list of your experience and skills that fit in well with the requirements of post. Once you have your list, think about specific times when you applied these skills through your studies, voluntary placements or work experience.
Your answer should include elements of the role that you will be suitable for those areas that you have experience in. Your answer must be backed up with suitable examples.
How To Structure Your Answer
When answering this question, identify a few elements of the job that fit in well with your existing skill set. Explain how your experience matches these requirements, drawing on examples from an academic task or work-based project.
Avoid focusing your answer on what benefits the job will have, eg that you believe the job will help you to advance your career. An answer such as this may indicate that you are more focused on your own goals rather than the company’s. Nevertheless, you still want to convey your enthusiasm and interest for the role.
Some Good Example Answers
A good answer will consider any of the following points:
- The reputation of the company, including awards and recognition
- Recognition of the company’s products or services
- Company strategy and/or training opportunities
- The values and vision of the company
Here are a few representative answers:
Role: HR Manager
“This job interests me as I would be accountable for the recruitment, induction and support of new team members. While working at (company name) I was directly responsible for many of these tasks and played a key role in staff recruitment and training. I coordinated the recruitment of over (number) of employees and managed new starter training for the company/department.”
“I am interested in this post because I have a range of technical skills and can quickly grasp new technologies. I have already undertaken a period of study to further develop my understanding of complex programming languages such as Java and Python, and I am looking forward to developing my knowledge in new areas and techniques. I am also interested in the problem-solving element of the role and have developed these skills both in my academic studies and work experience.”
“This post appealed to me because the mission and values of your school focus on the individual learning requirements of each child. As I have completed my professional training, I have gained an understanding of effective teaching strategies. For example, I have demonstrated the ability to create systems and processes to facilitate lesson planning and the learning experience for students.”
What to Avoid
As with every interview question, there are some responses that you should not give:
A General Answer
This is perhaps one of the most common mistakes that candidates make: giving answers that are not tailored to the company or the job they are applying for. Saying something such as “It’s a great company and I would love the opportunity to become part of the team” is OK, but it’s not going to set you apart from the other candidates. It’s too generic and shows that you haven’t really spent time to think about what the company and opportunity represent for you.
A Rehearsed Answer
This is very similar to the above, but rather than providing a generic response, the candidate provides a cut-and-paste answer that demonstrates you only have a basic understanding of the role or haven’t bothered to do any research.
A Lack of Enthusiasm
An unenthusiastic answer such as “I heard that you were recruiting so decided to apply” will not give the recruiter any confidence that you are enthusiastic about the role.
A Lack of Professionalism
A job interview is an opportunity to demonstrate how you would act in a professional environment. Don’t provide unprofessional answers (eg you need the money, or you want the job to pay the bills). These answers don’t tell the recruiter anything about you, and will tell them more about why they shouldn’t employ you than why they should.
A Summary of How Best to Say You’re Interested In A Job
Keep your answers concise. Don’t go off on a tangent or start providing irrelevant information. This will only indicate that you either haven’t prepared sufficiently or you lack the skills to summarise information.
If possible, keep this structure in mind when you reply:
- Describe why the company appeals to you;
- Explain why the role appeals to you, and why you are well suited for the opportunity;
- Show how and why the opportunity aligns with your motivations and career goals;
- State why you will fit in with the team.
As with any interview question, be enthusiastic and above all, honest.
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