How to answer an interview question: Why did you apply for this job?

You have filled out your job application, you submitted your CV through the portal, then after a couple of days, you get an invitation for the first stage interview.  One of the first questions you can expect from the interviewer is “why did you apply for this job?

The same question can be phrased in lots of other ways. Examples:

What brought you to [name of the company]?

What attracts you to the [role/company]?

Why would you be interested in a [role/company]?

It sounds like a simple, straightforward question. But many candidates still struggle to include relevant details in the answer and sell themselves as the right person for the role. Let’s narrow it down to what the answer should include:

1. Research about the company, products, services, mission and vision of the company

Preparation is the key! You need to research the company before you attend the interview. Reading a few lines from the first page of the website it’s not enough! To answer it skillfully, you need to build up some knowledge and better understand the place. Read the news, learn about the products and latest announcements, and check all the social media channels.  If you have done your research well, you should be able to determine what you like about the place and be sure that you really want that role. 

2. Research about company’s culture, values, and your reflections on how that resonates with you

Try to understand what the company stands for, and what is its purpose. Learn what the shared ethos and values of the organisation are, and how people feel about their work there. In that context, think about your values and how do you demonstrate them in your day to day life?

3. Relevant details about the job that have attracted you to apply and how does that fit with your skills and interests.

Read the job description properly before you attend the interview. It is a most underutilised source of information for your preparation for the interview.

If you applied for few roles in the same company, make sure that you know exactly what role you are discussing during the interview.

What should you include?
  • Bring specific examples that are related to the company explaining why do you like the company. During your research and preparation, uncover and learn interesting facts about the company and bring those elements to your answer.
  • Express your cultural fit, show why you’re fit by giving specific values and how they resonate with you.
  • Bring the skills that you have, show the elements of your previous experience, that are unique and can be stream to the next role.
  • Use strong phrases, like:

I’ve always been impressed…

I’m very passionate…

What not to say?
  • You should never attend the interview without the research; an explanation that you didn’t have time or was busy won’t work!
  • Don’t jump straight into your work experience explaining that you did a similar role before and that’s why you applied.
  • Don’t speak negatively about your current or previous employer. Bring positiveness and learnings from it!
  • Don’t say that you are actively looking for a job and applying to every possible company.
  • Avoid generic answers that would match every company in the industry.