I once had a conversation with a recruiter where she shared what she called “the kiss of death” for interviews: candidates answering, “Why are you interested in this position?” with something about being passionate about programming, writing, or some other skill with no mention at all of the company they applied to. To her, it’s an immediate red flag.

So this seemingly innocuous question can be a surprisingly tricky one—especially if you try to lớn answer it without thinking about who your audience is và what they really want khổng lồ know.

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Like the expected “Tell me about yourself” opener, “Why do you want this job?” is likely to lớn come up in most job interviews. Và even if your interviewer doesn’t explicitly ask you why you’re interested in the position, you should still know your answer and get that sentiment across while responding khổng lồ other interview questions.

So what do interviewers want lớn know when they ask “Why are you interested in this position”?

Basically, your answer lớn this question says a lot about all of the most important things an interviewer is evaluating: what skills you have, how interested you are in this job (and why), và what you’ll bring to this team or company.

And they want specifics. With “Why vị you want this job?” interviewers aren’t asking, “Why vì you want khổng lồ be an accountant?” they’re asking, “Why vày you want this accounting position at this organization?” They want khổng lồ know what motivated you khổng lồ apply và why this position makes sense for you (and, of course, why you make sense for the company).

3 steps lớn answer “Why do you want this job?”

Luckily, there’s actually a pretty simple way khổng lồ go about answering this question effectively.

Step 1: Show off what you know and why you’re excited about the company

You can talk all day about how excited you’d be to join the team, but it will only sound genuine if you actually know a thing or two about the company. So spend some time homing in on a few key factors to incorporate into your pitch for why you’re interested in this job.

It’s always impressive when a candidate has done their homework, but especially with smaller companies. & the best thing about this is you rarely have to lớn go beyond reviewing the company trang web or having a quick conversation with a current or past employee khổng lồ learn enough to sound lượt thích you’ve been following the company for a while.

Step 2: Connect your skills and experiences to the job description

Next, you want lớn sell why, exactly, you’re right for the role. There are two ways you can vì this: You can either focus more on your experiences (what you’ve done before that brings you lớn this point) or your skills (which is especially helpful if you’re pivoting positions or industries).

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Try lớn pinpoint what the job is all about, plus a couple of the “required skills” from the job posting, and make sure you speak to that. Keep it short—you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about how you got your skills & share relevant stories throughout the interview. For this question, just focus on highlighting a couple key relevant abilities or experiences for the position.

Step 3: Talk about where this role sits on your career path

Finally, you want khổng lồ show that the position makes sense for where you’re going in your career. Ideally, you won’t give the impression that you’re just using the position as a stepping stone. Your interviewer will feel more comfortable investing in you if they think you’ll be around for the long haul. Of course, you don’t have lớn state specifically that you see yourself in the position for a long time. Just show that you’ve given some thought to lớn how the job makes sense for you right now and how it will continue khổng lồ make sense for the foreseeable future.

Here are four common mistakes you should avoid:

Not talking about the company: Think about it this way: You can bring your skills anywhere. The trick is explaining why you want khổng lồ use them for this particular company.Only saying what’s in it for you: Maybe this job would give you the chance khổng lồ learn a lot about marketing, or it’s an opportunity to lớn grow your quantitative analysis skills—that’s great, but your interviewer wants to lớn know what’s in it for the company, too. So align your interests with & express enthusiasm for using your skills lớn contribute to lớn the company’s greater goals.Bringing up points that aren’t relevant: In the heat of an interview, it can be really tempting lớn mention that the office is actually quite close to lớn your daughter’s school or that the company’s flexible hours policy would make it easier khổng lồ carpool with your roommate, but don’t give in. These are nice perks, but (hopefully) they’re not the only reasons you find this position exciting. Answering the wrong question: Have you ever gone on a date with someone who wouldn’t stop talking about their ex? Well, turns out this happens during job interviews, too. Don’t be that person who can’t shut up about why you need lớn leave your old job, stat. Even if the reason you’re job searching is directly related to lớn your previous position, focus on the future.

Say you’re interviewing for an investment analyst job at a small quantitative asset management company. Your answer might sound something like this:

“The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the position posted was definitely that it was at EFG Advisers. I know that you build a lot of your tools in-house, that the team is small, & that you employ a variety of long- & short-term strategies in the U.S. Equities markets focusing on quantitative approaches. But the part that really spoke lớn me was the chance to combine the programming skills I gained from being a senior software engineer & my knack for quantitative analysis in a position that lets me engage with my growing interest in investing and portfolio management. I’ve been interested in switching khổng lồ finance for a while now and have been actively managing my own personal portfolio for a few years. Joining a quant siêu thị like yours makes sense khổng lồ me because I think it’s one of the few places where I’ll still be able to lớn use my technical skills & also spend my day thinking about finance. I’m really excited to lớn learn more and see how I’ll be able khổng lồ contribute lớn the firm.”

Or if you’re interviewing for a social media position at a gaming company you might say:

“I’ve always been a tín đồ of X Co’s products and I’ve spent countless hours playing your games. I know that your focus on chất lượng stories is what drew me & other fans into your games initially and keeps us coming back for more. I’ve followed X teo on social truyền thông media for a while, & I’ve always loved how you have people in different departments using the accounts to interact with users. So I was psyched when I came across this posting for a social truyền thông manager with TikTok experience. At my last job, I was responsible for launching our TikTok account và growing it khổng lồ 10,000 followers in six months. Between that experience, my love of gaming, & my deep knowledge of your games và fanbase, I know I could make this TikTok trương mục something special và exciting.”

If you’re looking lớn transition into a role at a nonprofit from a role in the private sector, your answer might sound like this:

“Ever since my brother was diagnosed with a heart condition, I’ve been training & running with him in your annual Heart Run to lớn raise money for your organization & help tư vấn patients with expenses not covered by insurance. Each time, I’ve been struck by how truly dedicated & happy to lớn be there your employees have been. So when I saw this posting for a fundraising role, it felt like it was meant to be. For the last 10 years of my career I’ve been an trương mục executive for various SaaS companies, and I’ve really honed my skills when it comes lớn convincing organizations to lớn make regular payments for something over the long-term. But I’ve been looking for a position in fundraising where I can use these skills lớn really help people và I’m highly motivated to do that with your organization.”


Lily Zhang is a career counselor at the MIT truyền thông media Lab, where she works with a range of students from AI experts to lớn interaction designers on crafting their own unique career paths. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video clip game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. You can find her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and her website.