When you’re on an interview for a new job, one question you might be asked is “Why are you seeking a position at this company?” or “Why did you apply for this job?” Something along those lines.
These are common interview questions, ones that gets to the heart of this hiring manager concern—do you really want this particular job at this particular company, or are you after any job?
The hiring manager wants to get a handle on how the position fits in with your career plans; he/she also want you to display basic (or better yet, deep) knowledge of the company in order to fully understand why you want to come aboard.
You must express interest in the company and display knowledge of their business when answering a question like “Why did you apply for this job?” Focus on a specific aspect of the company that you are interested in—the overall line of business, the technology they use, their community service, their role in the bigger global market picture, a new project they’re working on, their management philosophies, etc.
How do you research a company? Start with the “About Us” section of the company’s website, and also check their LinkedIn page and other social media pages (like Twitter or Facebook) to see how they present themselves, and to see what users think about their product or service.
From there, formulate an in-advance response to “Why did you apply for this job?” Advance prep on a basic interview question like this one is utterly essential. (PS: LiveCareer can get you prepped on a ton of other interview questions.)
Points to Emphasize
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin thinking about how to tackle this question.
Mention Company Products, Services, or News
It’s a good idea to look for recent press releases, or just the latest online articles about the company. I use Google News, which always displays the most up-to-date news on any search term (in this case, a company’s name).
Highlight How Your Skills/Traits Fit With the Company’s Work Environment
How do your goals fit in with the objectives of the company and the position? How will your work experience help the company achieve its goals? Focus on this.
Demonstrate How You Can Add Value to the Business
Even though the question is about why you’d like to work there, you still need to emphasize how hiring you will benefit them.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Remember, you are trying to convince the interviewer that you want this job at this company, so avoid these mistakes when answering “Why did you apply for this job?”
Don’t be Overly General
Do not give an overly general answer that can apply to any company or position.
Don’t Curb Your Enthusiasm
Do not let a lack of enthusiasm—or ignorance of basic company facts—creep into your answer. I can’t tell you how many times in my recruitment career that this played a major role the candidate did not get the job.
Here are some examples of how to respond to an interview question like “Why did you apply for this job?”
“I believe the best place for me to advance my career is with a stable and well-respected company. [Company Name] is internationally known for its products and its mission, and has a history of providing its employees with a happy yet challenging work environment. I want to be part of a company where I can continue to use and expand my skill set and knowledge of this industry. Furthermore, I believe my past experiences in the industry qualify me for this position, and I’m ready to take the next step in my career.”
“Based on the research I’ve done, [Company Name] is on its way to becoming an industry leader. I’ve been reading about the future projects you have planned, and I’m incredibly impressed with the founder’s background and how fast the company has grown. This is exactly the type of a company I’m looking for—a fast-growth start-up where my experience and skills can be put to use, and where I can play a part in making things happen.”
Use the opportunity that a question like “Why did you apply for this job?” provides, and sell yourself! Focus your answer and target it to not only the role, but the company as well.
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