Why do you want this job?

For both the employer and the job applicant, this can actually be a very difficult question if you looked at it in detail – for an employer: why does this person want the role or, as a candidate: why do I want this role?

We have had a range of applicants with a range of answers to this question. We have had high end executives that just wanted to win the role but would never take it, to junior level candidates that have given a fantastic answer with a real intention to create a career for themselves.

I recall when I first landed on the Gold Coast and needed a job urgently to pay the bills. I spotted a telemarketing job ad in the newspaper – ‘I can do that’ I said and picked up the phone and called them.  After answering a few questions I was asked ‘Why do want this role?’ Stuck for words I said “I actually don’t know’ and the conversation finished quite quickly after that. The truth was that I didn’t want that role and my answer proved that immediately. We often hear this response and it makes us question what a candidate’s intention is.

When screening candidates over the phone or in person at interview, we always ask this question. Everyone has a reason for leaving their current role just as someone has a reason for applying for the advertised role; it’s just that 60% of the candidates that we interview don’t express the reason confidently to us.

What do you do – get your story right!

We don’t mean that you should make up a story, we mean be clear on why you may be leaving a role or looking for work.

  • If unemployed, was it a redundancy, termination or other factor that influenced you leaving before finding work such as a relocation
  • If employed, look at the 4 major factors on why people leave – was it career opportunity, the people that you work with, money, or personal factors?

Once you have sorted that out, work out the best way to express this so that the interviewer has a clear picture of why you are looking at their role.


Your intentions for the role are high worth to the interviewer. If you know what you can bring to the company, why you want to bring your skills and experience and what you would like to achieve in the role, this may be the tipping point that gets you over the line above the other candidates. If you turn up to the interview and take for granted that you should get the role based on having the skills and experience and don’t express a genuine interest in the role, chances are that you may be unsuccessful. The role could go to a less experienced person that has expressed a real desire to be part of the team. Sitting on interviews with our clients, we have been witness to candidates that have been so nervous at the interview as they really wanted the role to candidates that have just sat back as though the role was theirs – guess who gets the role every time? Being nervous and fluffing the interview doesn’t always mean that it’s all over. Your skills, experience and desire for the role can sometimes outshine all of the negatives and prove that you are the one. Nervousness can mean that you really, really want that role. We have definitely seen this happen before and I am sure that we will see it again in the future.

Think about this question the next time you are applying for a role; “Why do I want this job?” and write it down. Equally, as an employer, ask “why do you want this role” or “what would you like to achieve from this role” The response could be the difference between the right candidate and wrong candidate.

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