It is often the simplest things that trip us up and a job interview is not where you want to stumble. Yet with nerves often overwhelming us in these moments, it is difficult to keep cool, calm and confident. Preparation, no doubt, is the key to performing like a star. So I am here to prepare you for the often asked and not always well answered question of why do you want this job?

Before we get underway, I want you take a moment to express out loud why you wanted the job you now have, or the one you are applying for. Keep in mind your response.

You may have scoffed at this seemingly innocent question, but you probably struggled to fluently articulate a response just now, right? So in this moment, how confident are you that you could respond to the question in an instance and impress a panel of interviewers? It’s not easy question to answer and it often brings people unstuck. It does so because not everyone immediately understands the significance of the enquiry. Allow me to let you in on a little secret…the interviewer not only wants to gain a sense of who you are, but they are assessing your value and fit within their organisational culture. Not such a harmless question after all, hey? So let’s break this question down and formulate a response that expresses what your true interest is in your current and/or future position.

Step number one; show how your skills match the role. This is where the job description can help you to frame a response. In the event that there is no position description, the job advert and even the company website can provide you with all the expected competencies of the job. And what you want to tell your future employer is how your skill set matches that sought. For example, if the employer needs a Project Manager to oversee the construction of $10 million dollar buildings, and you have experience in delivering construction projects valued up to $1 million dollars, you may say something like this…In my current role I manage, motivate and lead a team of subcontractors to deliver high quality projects on time and to budget, while developing a strong rapport with the architect and ensuring detailed progress reports are provided to allow the client the confidence that they can concentrate on their daily operational activities, knowing that I am in control of delivering a quality build for them. While the interviewer will understand there is a lack of experience at the higher level, they will be impressed by your understanding of the role and that you have the required skill set.

Step two: show your enthusiasm for the role. Keep in mind that while the employer is seeking your motivation for wanting the job, the question is really about how you can meet their needs. As a fresh, young Project Manager, you may state that you are really excited to be afforded the opportunity to join a growing company where you can build your skill set and gain greater experience over the long term as your knowledge of the company reveals that there is many opportunities to learn and advance within the organisation.

Step three: demonstrate how you fit with their culture. Your potential employer is a strong advocate of helping disadvantage youth in the broader community. Mention that you have a passion for coaching and developing kids at your local cricket club. You particularly enjoy teaching them new skills and strategies so that they may reach their full sporting potential and become leaders within the club themselves. While you have shared a little something of yourself, what you have really demonstrated is your shared interest of contributing to your local community.

The framework is simple and given a second opportunity, you should be able to structure a response as to why you want a particular job, showcasing to the employer that you are the perfect candidate choice. And yes I know that you want the job to earn some money, but that is a given, with all jobs. So please, refrain from giving this honest answer, it does not tell the employer why they need to hire you.

Enabling an employer to understand why they need you on their team is the key to landing the job. So what may seem a ridiculous, and even stupid question, is actually one of the most important job interview questions you will ever be asked. It is your opportunity to make yourself stand out from the queue of job seekers and present yourself as too valuable to overlook. Granted every interview will require you to research the company, their values and their needs, but a little homework will help you to tailor your responses to the role and the organisation that hopefully results in a job offer. After all, that is the goal!

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