You know the job interview question “what interests you about this position?”
It’s one of those questions that come across as easy to answer, and therefore, not something you have to spend a lot of time preparing for. All you have to do is to say why you’ve applied. Right?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
There is more to it than that, and in today’s video, I’ll walk you through why that is.
I will also share with you how you best prepare for this job interview question. And make sure that you stick around until the end because I’m sharing a pro-tip on how you can position yourself as a memorable candidate by adding one simple sentence to your answer.
Let’s dive into it (and if you prefer to continue reading instead, scroll past the video)!
⇒ What the interviewer is really asking
⇒ Do the right preparations to nail your answer
⇒ Step 1: Identify the different requirements for the role
⇒ Step 2: Be clear on your career aspirations and how this role fit into those aspirations
⇒ Example answer to the job interview question “what interests you about this position?”
⇒ Summary of what to keep in mind when answering this job interview question
⇒ Bonus tip: how to end your answer strong
What the interviewer is really asking
Even if it can be tempting to share the real reasons for what interests you about this position, whether that is because you are interested in the company and the role, or because you’ve heard that they have great benefits, that’s not what the interviewer wants to hear.
Or, more specifically, it’s not the ONLY thing they want to hear. So it’s not just as simple as stating why you’ve applied when answering this question.
Before we dive into the reasons why you are being asked the question, “what interests you about this position?” I want to go through what you should AVOID doing when answering this question.
First of all. You should definitely not say that you’re interested in the position because you need the money or the job (even if this is true).
And you should avoid short answers like “I’ve heard it’s a great company, so I decided to apply,” or “I’ve always wanted to work in a big company.”
You should also avoid topics like “my friend works here“, or “it’s close to where I live“.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with these answers, but you’re not giving the interviewer what they’re looking for when they ask this question.
When an interviewer asks you what interests you about their position, what they are really checking is your INTEREST LEVEL. They also want to know what CAREER ASPIRATIONS you have and how their position fits into those career aspirations.
They are also checking if you understand the ROLE REQUIREMENTS and if you, with your experience and capabilities, are able to meet those requirements.
Do the right preparations to nail your answer
To nail the answer to this question, there’s a number of preparation steps you should take to build a strong answer.
step 1: Identify the different requirements for the role
The first preparation step you want to take is to thoroughly read through the job description and identify the objective of the role and the requirements they’ve listed to make sure you are clear on what these are.
You also want to make sure you are clear on what experience they expect the ideal candidate to have. Since you are being interviewed, it is safe to assume that they believe you have the right experience level (otherwise, you wouldn’t have been shortlisted), but it is still important that you know what they’re looking for so you can address it in your answer.
step 2: Be clear on your career aspirations and how this role fit into those aspirations
If you are already clear on your career aspirations, the only thing you need to do in this step is to figure out in what way this role fits into your aspirations.
If you, on the other hand, not completely clear on your career aspirations, you want to make sure that you get that clarity first. There is a section in my Job Interview Preparation Workbook that can help you with clarifying what you are looking for in your next job and why. You can download the FREE workbook here.
Example answer to the job interview question “what interests you about this position?”
Now that you know what the interviewer is looking for in an answer and prepare for it, let’s see what an example answer can look like.
Here’s the thing to remember when answering this question.
Even if the question is about what YOU are interested in, your answer should be focused on what THEY’RE gaining by hiring you.
For example, if the role you’re interviewing for is for a team leader position within Accounting, you could say something like:
There’s a number of things that make me interested in this position and your company.
First of all, I’ve been working as a senior accountant for several years now. In the last year, my manager has been leaning more and more on my ability to lead the team’s daily operations so that he can focus on the strategic side.
It has made me realize how much I like leading teams, which is why I’m looking for that as my next job. For me, it is the logical next step in my career.
Secondly, the group that I’m working in now is a 5-person team, which is the same size as your team. You also have the same accounting system that we use and that I’m a superuser in. So, from that perspective, it feels like an ideal next role for me.
Another attraction is that you’re mentioning in the job description that you’ve started looking into streamlining and automating the accounting process across all your countries. I project managed the same type of initiative in my current job, which involved ten different countries. So, I know exactly what it takes, and I know the pitfalls and possible speed bumps that could come up. Plus, I really enjoyed leading that project and would love the opportunity to do that again.
Let’s talk about why this answer works.
First, you started with sharing your aspiration to take on a leadership role where you see a team leader role as the logical next step.
You spoke about the position and made it clear that you already have experience leading a similar size team, albeit not formally.
Then, by mentioning that you are a superuser in the accounting system they use, you’re letting them know that you’ll be able to be productive quickly. Plus, that you’ll be able to provide guidance and support to team members if needed.
And finally, you made sure to mention your project management experience since it’s clear from the job description that this initiative is an important one for the company. And here, they now have a candidate with recent experience of leading the same type of project, which is likely very attractive for the interviewer.
Summary of what to keep in mind when answering this job interview question
In a minute, I’ll share bonus tips that can, if you do it right, set you apart from the rest of the candidates, but before I do that, let’s recap what we’ve learned about how to answer the question “What interests you about this position?”
- Don’t get fooled into thinking this is an easy question to which you can give a short answer.
- The interviewer wants to understand how interested you are if you have career aspirations and how well this position fits into those aspirations + they want to check that you understand what is required in this role and how you can fill their need.
- Answer by focusing on three things; (1) your aspirations, (2) why their position fills those aspirations, and (3) that you understand their requirements and how hiring you will fill the need they have.
If you keep this in mind and prepare your answer accordingly, you’ll breeze through this question without any problem.
Bonus tip: how to end your answer strong
My pro-tip for you: End your answer with an open-ended question related to the need that you’ve identified that they have.
You want to do this because it signals to the interviewer that you are interested enough in the position that you are asking questions during the interview, and you’re not just responding to the questions.
What it also does is showing the interviewer that it is not only them that is evaluating you. You are also evaluating them and are not just trying to land any job.
So, continuing with our example, you can finish your answer by asking.
“I got the impression from reading the job description that you’ve already started with the initiative of streamlining and automating the accounting processes – what’s been your discovery so far?”
This approach tends to change the dynamic in the room towards a regular meeting rather than an interview. Not only that, by asking the right questions (the operative words being “right questions”), you give the interviewer an experience of what it would be like working with you, which will make them remember you better.
I definitely recommend that you try this approach if it is the hiring manager that is interviewing you. Or future team colleagues.
There you go — now you know what you are REALLY being asked when the interviewer asks you, “What interests you about this position?”.
Did you find it helpful? Did it raise any questions that you felt were left unanswered? Let me know in the comments. Also, if there are other questions that you want me to share tips on how to answer, let me know!