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What is one thing you listen for when asking a candidate, Why do you want this job?

To help job candidates know how to answer the question “Why do you want this job?,” we asked hiring managers this question for their best expectations. From the positive contributions the candidate would bring and to conveying authenticity in the reasons for the job, there are several things job interviewers may listen for when asking why a candidate may want a job in their company. 

Here are 10 answers interviewers expect in response to “Why do you want this job?”:

  • The Positive Contributions The Candidate Would Bring
  • Ambition Toward Long-Term Goals
  • Focus On Candidate’s Future in The New Job Role
  • Alignment Between Personal and Organizational Goals
  • Pertinent Work Experience
  • The Desire To Take on The Challenges of The New Job
  • How Much The Candidate Believes in The Company
  • The Company Values and Culture Are a Good Match
  • How The Candidate’s Competencies Benefit The Company
  • Natural Genuineness in The Reasons for The Job

The Positive Contributions The Candidate Would Bring

I’ve found that most candidates answer this question by singing praise to the company. They might say, “Your product is very innovative!” or “You seem like you have a great company culture!” While this flattery is nice to hear, what I actually want to hear is more about the candidate. Ideal answers to this question might include backstory about the candidate, their career goals and how they will contribute in the role.

Melissa Kelly, Virtual Team Building

Ambition Toward Long-Term Goals

Candidates who talk about their desire to learn a particular skill, or about the industry, or have the ambition to learn in general in order to meet their long-term goals are what I listen for first. I am under no delusion as an employer that people will stay with me forever and I don’t want them to. If someone says they want something stable they can count on for the next 20 years into retirement it actually hurts their chances at my company. High-performing candidates learn what they need and they move on.

he culture I’ve built hopefully fosters a desire for them to move on within my organization rather than outside of it, but it’s ok either way. When I hire someone I want to know that the time spent with us is worth THEIR time, otherwise, it’s not worth our time.

Phil Bryson, Desert Pro Home Buyers

Focus On Candidate’s Future in The New Job Role

The average length of tenure is shrinking, while the cost to hire isn’t. Also, the opportunity cost of the information that leaves an organization as talent leaves is a constant. What that all adds up to is the increased importance of not only hiring the right person, but hiring someone who’s going to stick around for a while. Therefore, a candidate should make their intention of staying clear right out of the gate.

Answer the “why do you want this job” question with an explanation of how much you’d plan to accomplish and how much you’d plan to enjoy the work for the next several years…not just for the month after the transition.

Jeremy Ames, Accenture

Alignment Between Personal and Organization Goals

The best employer/employee relationships are built on a mutually beneficial foundation, whether that’s a shared passion for the same mission, a culture and work environment that allows the employee to thrive, or a role that’s an ideal fit for the employee’s skills and career aspirations.

The ideal answer for “Why do you want this job?” highlights how your personal goals, attributes, or values are aligned to the organization and why you think you’ll have a strong, positive relationship with the organization if hired into the role.

Jon Hill, The Energists

Pertinent Work Experience

One thing I always look for in a candidate’s reply to the question “Why do you want this job?” is pertinent work experience. Someone with their career in mind will always incorporate relevant work skills to their answer. This is because people who are passionate about their job genuinely like to talk about the things or programs they use every day. Knowing what skills they offer and how well they know them can be crucial in the next hiring steps.

Sasha Ramani, MPOWER Financing

The Desire To Take on The Challenges of The New Job

The challenges. I love when a candidate tells me that they want this job because it challenges them and they want to take that on. When a candidate is open and honest about taking on the unknown and excited about it, that tells me that they’re going to work hard, be invested in growing with the company and be a great team member.

Tony Staehelin, Benable

How Much The Candidate Believes in The Company

I listen for some genuine identification with the company, not just the position. There are too many candidates who are thinking primarily in terms of an upward trajectory for their position and earnings. Such individuals are likely to go from company to company, jumping ship any time there is something more promising. That said, I am not so concerned with making sure that people will stay a long time. I just want to know that they believe in the company and are truly aligned with our core beliefs and our mission.

David Culpepper, LifeMD

The Company Values and Culture Are a Good Match

While interviewing a new candidate, recruiters essentially want to get an insight into how well their new hire is going to fit into the role and the company. A lot of this can be analyzed through the candidate’s skills, previous experience, and recommendations. However, it can be as important to gauge how well they will fit into the company and get along with the other employees.

When a candidate’s core values align with that of a company, it will be evident in their personality, enthusiasm and work ethic. Moreover, if candidates feel like they are a good match, then the levels of productivity, teamwork, and employee satisfaction will be high, and they are sure to be valuable additions to the workforce.

Igal Rubinshtein, Home Essentials Direct

How The Candidate’s Competencies Benefit The Company

Many candidates make the mistake of focusing too much on themselves when answering this question. They talk about how a particular role responds to their professional interests, how it can advance their career, and what skills and experiences they can bring to the table. While all these things are essential in the recruitment process, that’s not what we want to hear.  

When asking this question, we don’t want to know why you want to be a content marketer. Our goal is to find out why you want to be a content marketer at our company and how you can contribute to our success. Remember that you can use your competencies anywhere. We want to know how you can use them at our company. If you talk about your skills, align them with the job description so we can see what’s in it for us and how you can help us to achieve our goals.

Dorota Lysienia, MyPerfectResume

Natural Genuineness in The Reasons for The Job

In my experience, it’s best to listen to how they answer the question because if we’re honest, a large majority of the people applying just want the money. If the candidate sounds enthusiastic, they’re listing off reasons they want the job, and everything sounds natural, chances are they’re being genuine. On the other end of the spectrum, if someone sounds robotic or like they’re reading a script, you’ll be able to tell that they’re trying to say things recruiters want to hear.

Iohan Chan, Clark Staff

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