In asking you to describe your ideal job, an interviewer is trying to find out if the work you're applying for is something you'll stick with for an acceptable period of time. Hiring and training new employees is a hefty expense, so most companies strive to recruit workers who will remain with the company for the foreseeable future.
Asking how you found out about a job is a way to probe one's general professional position. Becoming aware of a job opening by networking with a member of the organization might suggest that you're more in-tune with the industry. A walk-in application based on a sign in the front window gives the appearance more of a general job-seeker.
Points to Emphasize
It's important to strike a balance in your response. Don't tell an interviewer what you think he or she wants to hear, but give them the insight they're looking for.
- Discuss the qualities of your ideal job in broad strokes: fair pay, good people, company stability, etc.
- Touch on your qualifications and relevant skills to illustrate why you're a good fit for the job.
- Talk about learning of the job opportunity and why it spoke to you—why the position intrigues you.
- Consider highlighting your loyalty to give a greater sense of commitment to a prospective employer.
Make sure your responses are honest and come across as such in order to maintain good credibility.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Keep your answers grounded in reality for best results, as most hiring managers will see through exaggerated claims.
- Don't state that the company you're applying to represents your ideal if you haven't worked there yet.
- Give some insight—don't simply respond that you found out about the job "on X job board" and leave it at that.
- Not having an ideal work situation to discuss gives the impression that your ideal situation doesn't involve working, so provide a thoughtful response.
- When reviewing how you heard about the position, avoid discussing other jobs you're applying for. Focus on the interview you're in as though it's the only company you've applied to.
It's recommended that you give your response genuine thought—but not too much. Employers want honesty but it's important to show you can think on your feet:
My ideal job would be with a good, stable company that treats its employees well. I actually found out about this position through a former co-worker who is now a part of your company, and she thought it would make for a great fit.
This sample response could work similarly regardless of how you found out about the job—just remember to accentuate the positives.