At every interview, you will be asked “Why are you interested in this position?”
This is a standard question, just like “walk me through your resume” or “tell me about yourself”.
Employers want to understand what attracted you to their organization. It provides an indication of how likely you are to stay with the company if you are hired.
Additionally, employers will also use your answer to understand the value you can bring. Like they do every answer.
If they recognize you as a valuable and passionate candidate, you will get a job offer.
So, it is important to hit on both of these points when you answer this question.
Let’s go over an easy strategy to answer “Why are you interested in this position?”
Strategy to Answer “Why are you interested in this position?”
The strategy you use to answer this question requires you to convince the company that you are excited to work for them.
They want to make sure they hire a candidate that is committed to them and their mission.
Hiring is expensive and time-consuming. Employers do not want to hire a candidate for them to leave 6 months later.
So, that is why this question is so important for employers. Why it is asked at every interview.
Additionally, just like with every interview you need to take the opportunity to demonstrate your value to the company.
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Prepare with Research
This is one question for which it is critical you need to do some research and preparation.
When you prepare for an interview, you need to do background research on the company.
You have probably heard this a million times.
Sound research will allow you to formulate a well-informed opinion about the organization. Whether it is a place YOU want to commit to.
In order to understand the company, do research on the:
After this research you should have a good understanding of the company’s recent accomplishments, upcoming strategic goals, and company mission/values.
You also want to make sure to ask questions during the phone screen to further understand the role and the company. This will allow you to refine your answer for an in-person interview.
So, now let's use this preparation to formulate a stand-out answer.
Demonstrate You Understand the Company’s Mission and Goals
When you begin your answer, you first want to demonstrate an understanding of what is meaningful to the company.
This can be their values, mission or an important upcoming milestone.
Starting with this will demonstrate that you have come prepared. And you've taken time to do research, which already indicates a certain level of interest.
An opening for your answer could be:
Based on my research and what I have learned so far, your organization is very customer focused. You constantly engage with your customers through Instagram and YouTube. Additionally, your upcoming new service is a direct response to customer feedback.
Notice how this opening is not just a list of things you have learned based on your research.
Rather, it is a wider interpretation (e.g. focus on customer service) based on what you've learned.
This demonstrates that you have digested the information rather than just reciting it.
In addition to a company value, here are other things that you can focus on:
One thing you should avoid using as an example is the ability for you to leverage your previous experience as what primarily attracted you to the role.
It is a very common answer. Unfortunately, it is still provided as a good example answer by many resources.
It is isn’t.
It is not a unique, tailored answer for the company. That type of answer lacks any true forethought or passion regarding the specific role.
You should certainly outline your experience, which we will cover below. But the ability to leverage your experience is not a company quality.
It is not what you want to begin your answer with.
Show Passion for Their Work
Once you have outlined your understanding of an important issue to the company, you then want to voice an opinion.
Your opinion on their important issue should demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm for their work.
Continuing with the above example, you could follow with:
A specific focus on the customer is something that is very exciting to me. The ability to to work for an organization that encourages interaction with the customer is rare. And this role as a social media manager is one I believe will really leverage this company value.
You want to show genuine emotion during this answer.
Remember, the company WANTS to hire passionate and excited candidates.
So make sure you practice delivering this portion of the answer with enthusiasm and joy.
The quality you pick to emphasize should be one that is truly appealing to you.
One that you can showcase with enthusiasm. A quality that demonstrates the research you’ve done and shows forethought.
Outline How Your Experience Will Bring Value
Once you have communicated a company quality and your passion about it, it’s time to tie it in with your value.
But, the important thing here is that you don’t just say “this role requires X and I have done X in the past”.
Instead, focus on results you have achieved in the past. Outline how this experience will bring value to the role and company for the chosen quality.
Continuing with the customer focus example above, you could outline something to the effect of
In my past experience, my primary responsibilities included interacting and obtaining feedback from customers through social media to improve engagement. I was then able to leverage this feedback to tailor our social media strategy and increase engagement by 100% over the course of 6 months.
Your social media accounts have a large following. I believe with your focus on the customer and my skillset, we would really accelerate engagement with your content. Ultimately, this would increase visibility and demand for the product.
Create a Dialogue
Probably the absolute best way to show interest in a position is to ask questions during your interview.
Every interview, whether a phone screen or a last-round interview, should be a dialogue. A natural back and forth conversation where you and your interview share information.
This means that you should NOT wait until you are asked “Do you have any questions” to actually ask a question.
Instead, try to follow up on most interview questions with a relevant question.
As a follow up to “Why are you interested in this position?” in the example above you can conclude with a question such as:
What are goals the company has for their social media presence?
How do you see this role interacting with customers?
Not only do questions demonstrate interest in the position, but studies show they also increase likability.
This makes sense.
People like to talk about themselves and their interests (e.g. their company). It triggers positive emotions.
So, asking questions prompts this dialogue and increases your likeability.
Likability is hugely underrated in the interview process.
People want to hire and work with people they like. Why wouldn’t they?
All of this to say, end your answers with a question as often as you can.
Example Answers to “Why are you interested in this position?”
Below are a couple additional example answers implementing the strategy outlined.
I noticed on one of your recent earnings calls that you are very focused on bringing Product X to market. The organization’s commitment to this product is particularly exciting to me as this disease state was a focus of my PhD work.
Based on my PhD research, it is clear that this disease is having a large impact on the quality of life for patients. Unfortunately, few companies has focused on addressing these issues. So when I heard that this was a critical milestone for [Company], I was immediately attracted to the position.
During my PhD research, I conducted numerous studies with patients to identify their most significant challenges in managing their disease. My research was ultimately published in [scientific journal]. I believe some of the work in the article may be of particular use for your organization as you are developing Product X. Overall, I can contribute greatly in this role to ensure that Product X addresses patient needs.
Are you facing any challenges in developing Product X?
Company X's launch of Product X really attracted me to your organization. This product is a large disruptor for the industry. Organizations with the courage to develop and launch such novel technology are ones to which I want to commit my skillset.
In my past, I have led the new product development team for Product Y. This was also a novel product at the time. Under my leadership, we were able to launch Product Y 6 months ahead of schedule. The launch was hugely successful and this product is now a key driver of revenue for the company.
My ability to lead new product development teams for novel technologies will help ensure a smooth and timely launch for your next important product.
What are the key products in your pipeline?
So that is the strategy to answer the interview question "Why are you interested in this position?"
Using these tips will ensure that you craft an answer that will emphasize your passion and value to the organization.
Remember, good preparation and practice is critical!
Have you answered this question in a job interview?
Let me know how it went below!