“Why Do You Want This Job?”

“Why do you want this job?” is typically asked of a job applicant when the job applicant themselves hasn’t come right out and made it clear why they are actually applying for the position. Even when it’s not asked straight to the applicant, the employer is always evaluating your words and your body language in an attempt to find out why.

Look, employers don’t want to undergo a frequent turnover in their employees. When they do, that takes time away from what they’d otherwise be doing, and of course it costs both money to advertise and then train a person. So it stands to reason then that they want someone who truly wants the job and who understands the job so there’s no miscommunication and they know each other’s expectations.

Now you might sit there reading this blog and say to yourself, “I know why I want this job – I don’t have one and I need to work!” That answer isn’t going to get you the job 99% of the time. What the interviewer is really hearing when you answer like that is that you are desperate for work – any kind of work – and have no real investment in the job or the company itself. Once hired and less desperate, you’ll realize this isn’t the best spot for you, and you’ll immediately start looking for a job that better suits you now that you have the security of ‘some’ job. In short, they’ll hire you, turning away other candidates, then you’ll be trained to do the job and shortly in this process you’ll quit. The employer will be left to repeat the entire process and get no return on their investment in you.

There are some people who during the interview itself become very excited about the job but fail in any way to show it. Their voice remains monotone, their body language is so conservative or stiff there’s no hint in it that they are really motivated, and so they are assumed to be fairly neutrally invested in the opportunity. If they land the job, good, and if they don’t land it, well, no big deal really. At least this is the impression they’ve left the employer with. Later on of course when they don’t get hired, they may say how disappointed they were, and if the interviewer was honest, they’d say to the applicant, “Really? I didn’t get the impression you really cared one way or the other.”

Now the best thing you can do is first let your body language show some enthusiasm for the job. Sit slightly forward in your chair, smile and be connected with the discussion that’s going on by looking the people who are interviewing you in the eye. Make sure the tone of your voice varies; stress different words as you talk so that those words are emphasized and you become more interesting to listen to. When you answer questions about your achievements and successes, show by your body language that you are indeed proud of those moments. When you speak of past employers that you got on with well, communicate that happiness with your face the same way you’d look remembering some pleasant memory.

Know why you want the job. Is it about a rare opportunity that brings together your past experience, qualifications and the chance to work in a smaller, tight organization where you can provide leadership and have many responsibilities? Or is this the chance to specialize; focus solely on a few responsibilities in a larger organization, where your expertise and the job description seem made for each other?

Are you out to make a difference? The short commute is a definite asset, as is the chance to bring your creativity to a company known for its openness to new ideas. Maybe the reputation of the organization as a magnet for cutting edge technology or their investment in local charities you support is part of your reason for wanting to be a part of their team. Maybe too you’re just attracted to their benefit package and you just want to disappear into a cubicle there for the next 7 years – no wait! Don’t use this last one – even if it’s true!

The key to answering this question about why you want to work for the company is to know how they’ll benefit from having you onboard and matching that benefit with some need they have you will answer.  So what do they gain by hiring you? Are you a problem-solver, risk-taker, new age philosopher, traditionalist or negotiator? If they need a problem-solver and you’re positioning yourself as a traditionalist who doesn’t rock the boat, there’s a place for you – but not with this company. You failed to do your homework and provided yourself a solution for a problem they don’t have; thanks for coming in.

The key will be found in the job posting; ‘what we’re looking for’ or ‘what you’ll do’. Make sure this is what you’re up for in the first place, and can you really be happy doing what the job entails? Don’t even pursue the job if you know you’re a poor fit. You don’t want to be out of work again in 3 months or less and again job searching.

At any rate, this question of why you want the job should never appear to come as a surprise in the interview; know why you’re there.

The Weakness Interview Question

Some love its predictability, some get agitated by its intended use against them, but like it not, you may find yourself asked some version of the question requesting you expose a weakness of yours in a job interview. At that point, the clock starts ticking and you need to answer the question with intelligence and honesty. Will your answer cost you the job you want or work in your favour?

One thing to realize and consciously admit is that you like every other person on the planet have weaknesses; that’s weaknesses as in plural. No one is immune to having areas they can improve in and we all have flaws. The real issue therefore is not deciding whether to reveal a flaw or not, but which weakness to disclose that won’t cost you a legitimate shot at the job and terminate the interview.

The good news of course is that you are entirely in control of what comes out of your mouth. There is no obligation to reveal the deepest, darkest character flaw you have, or the one missing thing the job posting calls for that is an essential component of the job. Yes, you’re in 100% control of what you opt to share and what you choose to remain silent about.

No matter what you choose to reveal and share, something you should really never do is reveal the weakness alone and stop talking. So for example, never answer the question saying very succinctly, “My weakness is that I don’t have any experience using the computer software noted in the job posting.” While this may very well be the case, the speaker has left the answer on a negative note, and missed a fantastic opportunity.

Remember what I mentioned earlier about everyone having weaknesses? What differentiates some people from others is what they are doing to eliminate the weakness, even possibly turning that weakness into a strength. While one person may not be actually doing anything to learn the software the company uses, another applicant might answer, “My weakness is that as my previous employers haven’t required the software your organization uses, it wasn’t a requirement for me to learn. However, I’d like you to be aware that I’ve demonstrated my ability to quickly learn the company-specific software in each of my previous two positions, and I have been doing some online individual learning to grasp the basics of the software you do use. From what I’ve found, it has some similarities to other accounting software I have used and mastered.”

The  answer above to the same weaknesses question, doesn’t end on a negative note. There is still the assertion that the computer software is an area of weakness yes, but the person has limited the potential damage of that fact by demonstrating some initiative to learn it, and referenced 2 situations in which they didn’t initially know other software but picked it up quickly. They even concluded with the word, “mastered”. This could be verified by contact the previous employer, and the interviewer is left with a different perception of the person.

From the interviewers perspective, applicant one doesn’t know the software and that’s a job requirement. Applicant two doesn’t know the software as much as they will need to, but they have demonstrated the positive quality of initiative in doing some research into it, and they have highlighted another desirable trait, (they learn quickly) that would reduce the training period.

So it is not a situation where you reveal a weakness and none of your competition will, hence exposing you as the weakest applicant. No, it’s more a situation where you declare your weakness and then go on to demonstrate what you are doing about that weakness so that it doesn’t remain a weakness in the future.

Another example? Suppose you don’t have your driver’s licence. Every single human on the planet who has a driver’s licence now didn’t at one point. What they did do was study what they needed to do to pass and then either took driver training or went right to the driver’s test. If they failed, they did it again. Whether they got it the first time or not, they took action and now have that driver’s licence in their pocket.

If someone doesn’t have their licence to drive and is doing nothing about it at all, the lack of a driver’s licence isn’t the only weakness they are revealing. A second weakness has just been unknowingly shared which, without any pun originally intended – is a lack of personal drive!

There are critical weaknesses such as a person applying for teaching position in a school board without a teaching certificate. All the personality in the world won’t get you in where there is a competition. Some weaknesses are less damaging, such as one’s ignorance of the company’s specific policies and procedures; procedures only an employee of that company would be expected to know. Once again, you would be wise to indicate that you also didn’t know the policies and procedures in your last employment at one time either, but you picked that information up quickly and adhered to them.

So, choose what you reveal carefully. State what you are doing to either eliminate the weakness altogether or turn it into a strength. Under no circumstances should you ever tell an interviewer you have no weaknesses. That statement shows arrogance or ignorance; both highly undesirable.





“Hate” Is A Job Interview Killer

“Oh I hate it when people are like that; I really do!”
“Okay, well that about does it. Thanks for coming in, we’ll be in touch.” And they never are. What went wrong?

It’s likely that whatever you find annoying in other people that prompted you to make the comment you did cost you a real shot at that job. “Hate” is one of those words that people use more commonly than they really mean. For not only do people use it to describe extreme revulsion, but they also use it in 2014 to describe things they don’t like a little but can easily adapt to. So for example, “I hate this pudding!”, “I hate having to get up early!”

Odds are that pudding flavour or texture is something you don’t find to your taste, but you could just as easily have said, “I prefer vanilla instead thank you, the butterscotch isn’t a flavour I enjoy.” This may not be what you would say if you were hanging out with your trusted girlfriend, but it might be what you’d say if you were having dinner at someone’s house you were just getting to know and wanted to make a good impression.

“Wanted to make a good impression.” Hmmmmm……isn’t that what you’re trying to do at the interview also? Right! You see that interviewer across the table is trying their best to get to know you over a relatively short period of time; even when there’s multiple interviews to go through. And because they don’t know you, anything you say is magnified. They can’t tell if a comment like, “I hate people like that” means you really do hate others or you just find them mildly annoying but can still get along.

People are generally considered the most important asset companies have. Put the right people in place and the company thrives. Hire the wrong people in key positions and the company will flounder and possibly fail. It is for this reason and this reason alone that picking the right candidate(s) from the many who apply for a job takes time and has to be done right – the first time.

So there sits the interviewer. Whether you started off with someone in Human Resources or not, eventually you end up sitting in front of someone who knows not only the job requirements but also the people with whom the successful job applicant will be working with. It’s as if all those people and their various personalities are the individual ingredients in some breathing recipe. Find the missing ingredient in a job applicant and the result is a winning combination. However, make the wrong choice, and you may upset the mix that was so close to what Management was close to achieving, and you’ll be out before the end of probation and the process will start anew.

Okay so that comment, “Oh I hate it when people are like that; I really do!” What the interview has likely done is precede the response the applicant gave with either a question or comment about someone with a strong personality not everyone can work with. Could be, and likely is, that there is someone on the team you would be working with, or in the organization you’d have to deal with who has that very personality, manner, style or trait. And if there isn’t, it’s a test to see how you would deal with an angry customer or someone who rubs you the wrong way.

Being careful, thinking before talking, and coming up with an answer that is honest but ends on a positive rather than on a negative is the key. And you should always be thinking to yourself, “What’s really behind this question? What is it that’s really being probed? If you think it’s a question or comment designed to provoke a response, taking a moment to re-think your automatic response may save the interview and keep yours going. So perhaps you might say, “The great thing about meeting people, whether it’s customers, clients or co-workers is that we’re all so different and yet we find ways to get along, even when our differences sometimes create personal challenges. Whenever I interact with someone who has behaviour I personally don’t appreciate, I can separate their behaviour from the person themselves.”

After making this kind of introductory statement, I’d cite an example from my past where someone has initially rubbed me the wrong way, but I was able to work with them and produce a positive result. You know, kind of, “To illustrate this, it was when I was with such and such company, and I was tasked with working on a project with a person who constantly interrupted my sentences and didn’t appear to be listening. I refrained from saying something that would be hurtful, and asked if we could just pause a moment and talk. I explained how I felt when he interrupted constantly, (which he said he knows he does but is working on) and he said he’d really make an effort not to do that and hear me out because he values my opinion. We then resumed the project and came to a successful conclusion.”

“Hate” is a word you might want to drop altogether anyhow. Save it for extreme situations where it’s required but leave it out of your everyday vocabulary. Dropping it will serve you well.