Answering “What Interests You About This Position” in an Interview
When the question “What interests you about this position?” or "Why are you interested in this position?" comes up in a job interview, it can be a little of a curveball mostly because of your mindset at that very moment is going to be very forward-thinking. You’ll be getting questions related to the job, your experience, and you won’t be thinking as introverted as you might be thinking you are. And in reality, that’s the purpose of the question getting asked by the interviewer.
An interviewer is intentionally trying to throw you off track with this question. It’s not as though they are purposefully trying to harm you. They are legitimately going through an exercise with you at that very moment.
Why this interview question?
The purpose of the exercise for the interviewer to see how well you can communicate when you have to think on your feet. And how well you can get prepared when you are coming to the interview in the first place. So take the question with a high spirit, and this guide, in particular, will help you to understand how you might better prepare for the question to come up. Because most likely, the question will come up.
Answering this question
Before we jump into ways of answering this interview question, let's first try to understand what the interviewer is trying to get from the question itself. That will help us to determine what type of answer is best in this scenario.
First, you should be thinking about your initial interview session. For example, have you already gone over your previous experience? Have you already discussed what your personal and career goals are in life?
These are important prerequisites to answering the question because if the interviewer doesn’t know these things yet, then you’ll want to use those as opportunities to inform him or her. I’ll explain why. If the interviewer doesn’t know anything about you yet, meaning your personal goals or your career goals, then the answers they are looking for is something related to why you are interviewing for that particular position as it correlates to your life or career goals. But then, if the interviewer doesn’t know that information yet, they actually may be asking you the question on the defensive. Meaning, they aren’t entirely sure if you are a true fit for the position. And they are looking for some information that is going to help them determine that.
Pro tip: In a study performed by HireRight in 2018, 55% of companies say they struggle with employee turnover. Meaning, employers are now more concerned about your passion for the job, resulting in longer employment times.
Bringing it together
See how drastic of a difference the outcome to the question can get based on the initial conversations you may have had in the interview.
Other guides will tell you that you have to be enthusiastic and that your answer's delivery needs to carry a specific tone. And while that is true, you really have to strategize your communication, like in the examples above.
Really think to yourself, what is the interviewer trying to understand about me? Remember that in interview sessions, interviewers will get limited to the types of questions they can ask. Because of that, they have to go around the direct question and be a little more indirect. And your goal should be to try to secure as much confidence in you being the perfect fit for the position so that they pick you over the other candidates.
So let's go through a mock answer to the question but let's go ahead and presume that you haven’t told the interviewer about your passions yet. Remember that the passions include both personal and career-related passions; they want to know both. If you are expressing information about your personal passions that show you really don’t have any willingness to develop above and beyond what the job is asking, then you won’t get heavily considered for the position.
Think about it, would you hire someone who doesn’t really have their heart in what they’re doing? Work shouldn’t be work; it should be something you love to do, something you are passionate about. Interviewers are looking for that.
Example Answer To "What Interests You About This Position?"
"There’s a long list of reasons for why this position interests me. But let's start from where my heart is. I have a personal passion for this industry; if I weren’t working within the industry, I would be spending all of my free time learning more about it. It's something I just can’t put down, like a good book. So, first and foremost, the ability for me to learn interests me about this position. I get to utilize my talents and get involved in a space that I have a high degree of passion for and learn above my current skill sets. The position as a whole fits in with my personal desires to have career mobility, allowing me to blossom into a manager one day. To me, the experience of this position is almost as if I’m gaining another type of compensation."
Breaking down the answer
In that mock interview answer, you can see how it got answered in a way that really shared part of your personal goals. Because I don’t know exactly what job you are applying for, it would be best to replace industry commentary with the particular functions of the job you will be doing. For example, if it's graphic design, then it's sure that you are expressing how graphic design is a passion of yours and that even on the weekends, you are always playing around with the opportunity to create and be creative. Try to think about aligning yourself with the functions of the job.
Speaking to the particular problems you might be facing inside the job is another great thing to bring up here. Because you can be just as passionate about the types of problems you’ll be solving as the job itself, try to describe it as if you are addicted to puzzles, and the act of solving the puzzles is rewarding and gratifying. That’s how you’ll want to deliver your answer.
Now, let's go through an example where you already told the interviewer about your personal and career goals. The interviewer here, as a reminder, will get a little defensive. They aren’t entirely sure if you are a fit for the position and are looking for a reason. The most important task right now would be to understand who you are speaking to; think of it almost like a poker game. You are playing the opponent. So with that in mind, try to think about whom the person is before you answer. But let's go through an example.
Another Example Answer To "What Interests You About This Position?"
"I can understand how my prior experience might not exactly communicate a perfect fit for the position. Or even with the ways I’ve answered questions in this interview. But what I can say is that my passion for the story that this Company is developing is deep and that I’m looking to provide any contributions I can to display my excellence. My heart is with the vision and mission of this Company. And I’d be happy to share my personal and career goals with you and explain how that fits in with my personal passion for this position."
See how we answered that slightly different? We want to elude that we understand some communication gaps that need to get filled. If you have personal experience which doesn’t exactly line up with the position, this question is absolutely going to get asked in your interview. Being upfront about that is going to be far more helpful for you in the long run. A way that we could have improved the answer to this question would have been to have research prepared about the Companies missions. You probably should do that in advance. Learn about the CEO, learn about why the company was started, learn about where they are going. If you can share an anecdote related to the origins of the company, you’ll be increasing your odds that the delivery of the answer will get taken well. Because simply showing that you’ve done your homework and have a deep passion for that particular business, in itself, sort of answers the question about what interests you about the position. See how that works?
Interests You Can Use In Your Answer
Here are some general interests that you can use when answering this interview question. Ideally, you have your own reasoning for why the position will be a passion of yours. But if you are trying to think of a few, here's a good starting point:
- Ability to learn a new skill.
- The ability to be part of a larger team.
- Ability to be part of conversations with new departments, like marketing.
- The ability to be part of the companies missions on a daily basis.
- Ability to get measured by quarterly goals and results.
- Or the ability to be mentored and coached by a world-class team.
Mistakes You Can Make While Answering This Interview Question
The biggest mistake you can make when trying to answer this question is to have bland answers. If you say, “I have a strong passion for this position because I’m a problem solver,” then you aren’t going to do very well. That, most likely, will be what every other candidate says. And that’s exactly the purpose of the interviewer's question to find out on a deeper level who is willing to go above and beyond. Because that person will be the best fit and perform to the fullest, most other guides on answering this question provide pretty bland answers. Absolutely do not use those. Express your self-interest, be personable and try to consider what other candidates may have said. Be different from those.
Preparing To Answer "What Interests You About This Position?"
Any early preparation for this question can be done through a simple google search. You should find the founding story of most companies by simply searching for the company itself or the parent company that it may be part of. Recent press or news articles are also beneficial in understanding where the company is trying to go, where its mission lies. You can also ask that right upfront. Just be very forward and say, “I’ve done a healthy amount of research about the company, and I feel like I understand what the mission is but can you help me to understand on a deeper level?” The manager you are interviewing with will absolutely appreciate that question and will be extremely likely to answer it. And that will also provide you with the platform to better explain how the mission fits your personal life story. Just remember that all of these curveball type questions are there to gather information about you and how that relates to the fit of the company, not just the position.
Tips and tricks
The only other trick I can mention is something you have to be willing to read the room on. And that’s answering this question with another question, “What wouldn’t interest me in the position?” — this is a little sales-like of the answer, yes. But what’s really critical to this delivery of an answer is that you are confident enough that you can then ramble on about all the reasons why you would be interested in the position. For instance, you would say, “What wouldn’t interest me in the position? I get to work with Matt; I get to handle graphic design requests. I get exposure to Adobe Illustrator, and I get to be involved in new initiatives.”
See what I’m doing there? I’m putting together almost a checklist. Now in my example, I used some pretty vague scenarios. You’ll want to be very specific and almost scientific about the scenarios. And that can be hard to do. This works because you are showing just how confident you are as it relates to knowing exactly what the position requires. And that, in itself, answers the interviewer's needs. But be careful with this; it can go horribly wrong if you are using vague scenarios as I did above, it will make you seem arrogant and difficult to work with. So the only time I would recommend this delivery is when you feel you can be playful with the interviewer and feel the friendship chemistry develop.
If you have any other thoughts about this question, please feel free to contact me. Understand that you’ll need to practice your delivery with a friend in advance. Though, for this type of question, you’ll need to be reading the room. Meaning, really trying to place your efforts into an empathetic point of view and connecting with the interviewer on a much deeper level.
Common Interview Question FAQ
Questions about answering interview questions.
How important is speaking to my work experience with my answer?
Your work experience is significant when answering this question. Knowing what parts of the job interest you, you can show that you have had a past position. Imagine answering this question for a cashier and saying that creative advertising is what interests you.
Should I share what interests me about the position in my cover letter?
You should. Though, a better way to explain why you are a fit for the job opportunity is to express your professional accomplishments and show your greatest strengths through that work.
Why does this answer allude to my qualifications?
Because if your answer isn't accurate, it shows you've never had prior work in this area. And which could show a lack of knowledge of the job to your prospective employer. That's how it can speak to whether or not you have years of experience performing this job function.
How can this question help interviewers and interviewees figure out competencies?
Depending on what you are showing enthusiasm about in both the duties and work environment, it can provide the hiring manager a great way to place you. They can manage your expectations about the success you might experience in the position. And give you a chance to better focus on your work by simply telling you more about the job's selling points that align with your enthusiasm. Inversely, your answer could show the interviewer that you aren't a good fit for the job, too.
What qualities should I show in myself when answering this question?
Allude to the requirements in the position that create business success. This can demonstrate a vastly larger understanding of what makes you special than the other job candidates. Instead of simply speaking about yourself, speak to the qualities in the work that creates success. You could even go so far as to offer an idea of creating success in the position, right in the interview session.
Why is this question about employee retention?
Showing what makes you interested in a position can not only make a good first impression with your interviewer. Inversely, it can show that you aren't interested in the challenges that make the job successful for the company. If they were to put you into that position and you didn't have a passion for it, the hiring manager probably wouldn't feel confident that you'll stay with the company for long.
What are some answers I should avoid?
Try to avoid generic answers, like saying, "I enjoy working with others." That's not a unique answer and doesn't show the hiring manager that you're a great candidate for the position. You need to speak to the job's skills and qualifications and apply yourself to what the job entails. Avoid saying things like, "This sounds like a position that has great work-life balance, which is what I'm searching for."
What are some great answers?
If you aren't exactly sure how to answer, you can always say that the job offers you the ability to learn and grow. And that the opportunity to grow is what makes you very interested in the position. This is a great answer when you aren't prepared to answer this question. It is a "fallback" answer.
What's the goal of this interview question and answer?
The goal is to convince your hiring manager that you not only fully understand what's required to show great leadership in the job function but that you are passionate about the problems you have to solve while on the job. It sounds obvious, and it is. It is about you going through the process to convey to the hiring manager that you have dedication in the process and look forward to the growth that the job will provide you. And you do this by displaying your skills and talents as a candidate that helps you achieve great outcomes in the job. That's what makes you seem like a prime candidate and what can impress your interviewer.
How can I sharpen my interviewing skills when answering this tricky question?
Go through as many mock interview sessions as you can with friends and family. Carve and craft what you think your answer needs to be. Spend time to write down what you feel the qualities are your interviewer is seeking. Think about the gain that both you and your employer will receive. And use those as the main reasons for your answer.
What are the variations of this interview question I should expect?
- Why are you interested in this position?
- What makes you interested in this position?
- What interests you about this job?
- Why are you interested in this job?
These main variations are what you might hear.
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
Job search resources
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