“Why Do You Want This Job?” How to Answer this Common Interview Question

Such a question is typically saved by interviewers for second interviews, although at times, the “Why do you want this job?” inquiry may show up in a first interview; albeit, with any luck, toward the end of the conversation.

After all, an interview is a two-way street, with both parties acquiring information in a reasonably balanced exchange.  Most individuals can’t make a thorough decision in an informational vacuum; despite research and study, few, if any, know when they walk in the door if this is definitely the place they want to work.


Nevertheless, the question is a common mainstay in the interview repertoire, and candidates must be prepared to answer without hesitation.

Do your Homework

You are definitely going to need to perform some research.  If it’s a publicly traded company get a copy of their latest report to their shareholders and read it; check news outlets for recent stories about the company.  What you’re looking for is positive aspects, particularly if you can relate to them, about the company’s ambitions, contributions to the community, recent product introductions, and even new projects that they’re working on.

It’s good to find areas where they are struggling, too, if you have something to offer in that area.  “I noticed in The Times that your San Diego office was experiencing problems with [situation], and since I resolved a similar difficulty in my office last year, I think it would be a good opportunity for both of us.”

You’re also looking for names of higher-ups that you perhaps know, or have worked with previously.  This gives you the ability to say things akin to “Well, when I was at ACME Corp, I worked with Jane Smith, your current VP of Finances here at Pinnacle Inc.  I learned so much from her, that when I saw that she was here now, I began to research this company.  Our styles are very similar; her management technique is spectacular—we’ll make a great team again.”

You’ll Benefit the Company

If you have numbers (“I saved my last company 55% year-over-year on corporate car rental solutions”) then trot them out.  Modesty isn’t really a strong selling feature—it’s time to toot your horn, so to speak, or drag out a marching band.

“I’ve been told I’m very insightful—I wonder about that—I see solutions that seem obvious to me, but most people don’t ‘get it’ until I explain it to them.  Call it a gift, if you like, but whatever the case, Pinnacle has exactly the sort of dynamic development environment where my ‘insight’ flourishes.

“As an example, your J-Division has been wrestling with [this] and [this].  When I look at it I see that if you [something] and upgrade [something] the whole problem vanishes for at least five years!  That gives us plenty of time to create a permanent solution.”

You Are Not Transient

Try to give the impression that this is not just a steppingstone to another career change in three to six months.  You don’t have to say that you expect to retire with this company after a long and successful career, but it never hurts to give the impression that this is a place where you feel you can grow and develop, and become more valuable to the company.

“From what I’ve been able to gather, Pinnacle has a strong history of supporting employee growth and development.  I foresee a long and happy career with Pinnacle, since they do emphasize promoting from within.”

Or perhaps:

“I love kids.  Rocking Horse Charities does marvelous work with children who are undergoing medical procedures away from home.  My sister’s son was one of your success stories.  She said you needed help and I think this is the right place for me.

“Though I’ve only worked as a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Art Museum, I have a long history of successful fund raising.  I think that as your new Director of Fundraising, with my connections, I could increase donations for Rocking Horse by at least 25% this year.”

The Takeaway

“Winging it” is a bad choice for any interview.  Generally speaking, the candidate who does the most research and engages in the most preparation always wins.  You may not know if you want to work at a particular place, and that’s fine.  But if you stay on top of the research and preparation and “win” the interview, then it becomes an option whether you will accept the job or not, or in other words, not sitting around and “hoping they will call”.


Don’t merely settle for passenger status; learn to drive your life.  If you let somebody else steer the car, you may never reach your preferred destination.


Fred Coon, CEO 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200