Answering “Describe Three Things That Are Important To You In A Job”

An interviewing might ask you mid-interview, “Can you describe to me three things that are most important for you in your next position?” And you might be caught off guard. Having your qualities ready in advance will do you incredible justice in being able to impress the HR manager or interviewer who is sitting down with you.

Let’s go through how you might answer this question and what you should be prepared to back it up with.

When Does The Interviewer Ask This Question

There are two primary places the interviewer is going to ask this question. The first would be the phone interview and the second would be the on-site interview. During the phone interview session, if the interviewer asks you this question it could mean that they’re very interested in moving you through the interview process quickly. This is a validating interview question more so than a testing interview question. Meaning that the interviewer wants to validate what they already know.

How To Answer “Describe The Three Things That Are Most Important For You In Your Next Position”

When asked this question, the interviewer is looking for qualities, not specifics or details. That means, if you describe your answer as, “A job that pays me well and appreciates the work that I do” then you’re going to be answering incorrectly. That is a self-centered point of view when you respond with that. You need to respond with company qualities and job function qualities.

Those qualities are things like:

These are better qualities that describe what you are looking for in a job because they are descriptive of the type of work that you might do versus the benefits you are looking to gain.

Keep your answer professional and on point to the job function. Try to avoid any answer that might be focused on what your ideal situation looks like. For example, an answer like “I’m looking for a job where my boss isn’t breathing down my throat” is a bad one. It might seem funny to you but it would be an answer that would immediately get you kicked out of the interview process.

The Interviewer Might Ask Why

Sometimes the interviewer will ask you to support your three descriptive words that make up your ideal job. You’ll want to be sure that you have your reasoning behind it. Let’s go through a few examples of what your word choices would be and what you could say to support your answer.

If you said Collaboration.

Your supportive reason would be, “I appreciate feeling as though the whole team accomplished something great together. That’s a genuine feeling that lasts a long time.”

If you said Stimulating.

Your supportive reason would be, “I find I’m always curious to learn something new. I say stimulating because I’d love to be exposed to parts of the business that I wasn’t before.”

If you said Autonomy.

Your supportive reason would be, “When I say autonomy I don’t mean a lack of communication or collaboration. But more so the ability to take on accountability and be able to drive home results and initiatives in a way that benefits the company greatly.”

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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