No matter your industry, and no matter what the requirements of your target job may entail, there are a few well-worn interview questions that are nearly universal. Your employers are almost guaranteed to ask a few of these questions, and they’re likely to invest heavily in your response.

These questions may sound generic, but they’re real, and they’re important. They contribute a great deal to helping your employers assess your readiness for the position, so take them seriously. Especially this one: Why do you want this job?

When you face this common question, keep a few guidelines in mind.

You want THIS job, not A job.

Skip over the obvious fact you’re looking for work and your interviewers are looking for employees. Yes, you need a job. And they need a candidate. What they really want to know is, why THIS job? Why did you choose them, and why should they choose you over someone else? Yes, you’re between gigs, but that fact alone is not relevant or helpful. The real substance of your answer will surface as you explain why.

Previously on “Your Life”…

Start your answer by explaining a few of the most recent twists and turns of your career. For example, explain why you decided to enter the market in search of a new position. What did you need that your last job couldn’t offer? Then explain the next development: What sparked your interest when you heard about this opening? Why do you feel you’re uniquely suited to this role or company, and vice versa?

Get to the heart of the matter, and quickly.

Again, you can skip quickly over obvious and non-helpful information, like explaining you’re here because you were called in for an interview. Of course you were. Your interviewers would not have called you if they hadn’t skimmed your resume and identified a few areas of potential alignment between their needs and yours. Yes, you have the basic qualifications that brought the two of you into the room together today. But your interviewers would like to know what sets your alignment apart from those of their other interviewees. What might you be able to offer that they can’t? Do you have additional education credentials or experience? Do you have a unique passion for the specific product or service this company provides? Do you have a contact within the company who enjoys a high level of trust and respect? What can you do, what can you bring, who do you know?  Share something that might make this relationship special.

For more on how to ace your interview and land a job that can launch your career, turn to the job search experts at Extension.


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