How to Answer: Why Are You Applying For This Position?

Calendar Icon
August 25, 2023
Edited by
Clock Icon
min read

"Why do you want this job?" is one of the most common interview questions you'll come across during your job search. However, it can also be one of the trickiest open-ended questions you can get, and there is definitely a right and wrong way to answer.

This guide will walk you through the best ways to answer this question during a job application or interview. It will also provide specific examples of answers that work, along with tips for efficient interview prepping and job searching.

3 key takeaways

  • Two reasons why employers ask this question
  • How to craft an effective response that positions you as a great candidate
  • How Teal provides start-to-finish support to help you find a new job

Understanding why employers ask what made you apply for the job

When an interviewer asks you why you applied for a role, it can feel like an attempt to trip you up by putting you on the spot. The usual knee-jerk response is often "because I want to get paid."

But when employers ask this common interview question, they usually want you to do one or more of the following:

  • Express your passion for the employer’s product, service, or mission.
  • Explain why you would enjoy taking on the responsibilities of the role.
  • Describe how your background will help you succeed in the role.

Understanding why employers ask this question can help you come up with a better response, and there are two typical reasons why this question comes up.

Reason 1: They want to make sure you’ve done your research 

When an employer asks this question, they are trying to gauge whether you clearly understand the job role and the company. They want to see if you've taken the time to research the position and the organization and whether you have a good grasp of the role’s responsibilities and expectations.

This is important for employers because they don’t want someone looking for just any job that comes along. Candidates who have done their homework tend to be genuinely interested in the role and the company. They’re also more likely to be prepared for the role's challenges and stay in the position longer, reducing turnover.

Your response to this question demonstrates your initiative, interest in the field, and commitment to the role. It's an opportunity to show that you're not just looking for any job but are interested in this specific role at this particular company.

Reason 2: They want to see if you’ve considered your career goals

This question also helps employers understand your career objectives and whether the position aligns with those goals. They want to see if you've considered your career trajectory and how this position fits.

If you can convey how the role aligns with your long-term career goals and your career development plan, it shows you're motivated and committed to the position. This assures them that you're not likely to leave at the first sign of a better opportunity.

This is also an opportunity to demonstrate that you're not just thinking about the immediate future but that you're planning for the long term. It shows that you're not just looking for a job but a career — and that you see this position as the right step.

Other ways this question is commonly presented

Of course, there's more than one way to ask a question. Some interviewers prefer to be direct, while others may leave the question open-ended to see how creative you can get with your response. 

Here are a few other ways you might hear “Why are you applying for this position?” pitched during an interview:

  • Why are you interested in this company?
  • What about this job caught your eye?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What made you want to apply for this role?
  • How did you hear about this opening?
  • Why did you apply for this position?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What attracted you to this position?
  • Why do you think this role is a good fit for you?
  • What aspects of this job align with your career goals?
  • How does this position fit into your career path?
  • What motivates you to join our team?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What do you hope to achieve in this role?
  • How does this role align with your professional interests?
  • What makes you think you would be successful in this position?
  • How does this job align with your long-term career plans?
  • What about our company's mission resonates with you?
  • Why do you believe you would be a good fit for our company?
  • What interests you most about our company?
  • How did you come across this job opportunity?
  • What do you find appealing about this role?
  • Why do you think you would enjoy working in this role?
  • What makes our company stand out to you?
  • What aspects of our company's culture appeal to you?
  • Why do you see yourself as a good fit for this role?
  • How does this role align with your skill set and experiences?
  • What excites you about this job opportunity?

Best ways to answer “Why are you applying for this position?”

Now that you understand the goals and motivations behind the question let’s examine how to craft a powerful answer based on your skills and expertise. 

1. Elaborate on an aspect that aligns with your career aspirations

You applied because you want the job, of course. But when asked why you're applying for a position, the interviewer is looking for something a little deeper than that. They want you to explain the unique aspects of the role or company that align with your career aspirations.

Say you're applying for a role in a tech startup because you thrive in a fast-paced, innovative environment. You could mention how you admire the company's commitment to a particular technology. You could also explain how you believe their dynamic atmosphere is well-suited to your adaptability and problem-solving skills.

2. Share a positive observation about the job

This strategy involves more than just praising the company. It's about drawing a connection between something specific about the company or role and your own interests or years of experience. 

For example, if you're applying for a marketing role at a company known for its creative campaigns, you could mention a specific campaign that impressed you. 

You can also detail how it inspired your ideas for future projects. This shows your enthusiasm for the company's work and demonstrates your initiative and creative thinking.

3. Illustrate how the job (or company) aligns with your preferences

This is your chance to tie everything together and make a compelling case for why you're not just a good fit for the role but the best fit. 

You can weave a narrative connecting your previous experiences, company needs, and future goals.

For example, you might say, "Having led multiple successful projects in my last job as a project manager, I'm excited about the opportunity to bring my leadership skills and passion for innovation to your team. I'm particularly drawn to your company's commitment to sustainability, which aligns with my own values and career goal of driving impactful, sustainable change in the industry."

4. Showcase your skills and accomplishments to show alignment

Rather than just listing your skills and achievements, tell a story about yourself that demonstrates how you've used these skills in the past and how you plan to apply them in this new role. 

For instance, if you're applying for a sales role and have previously exceeded your sales targets, don't simply state that. Instead, discuss how you developed a new sales strategy or built strong client relationships to achieve those results. Explain how you plan to leverage these strategies or relationship-building skills to benefit the new company.

Teal’s AI Resume Builder pulls information from the job description and your resume to generate impactful, results-driven achievements that can help you speak to your relevant contributions and accomplishments.

Sample answers for applications and interviews

Nothing beats a practical example to show you how it's done! So here are a few potential ways to approach this tricky question, broken into two categories: one for job applications and another for interview sessions.

Sample answers for job applications

A good answer to "Why are you applying for this position?" should be like the job application version of your resume introduction. It should provide a strong summary of your career experience and add context to your professional background. It should also address questions that would come up in an interview.

Here are a few example answers to show what that might look like in practice:

"I am applying for the data analyst position because I have a seven-year background in data science and a passion for using data to drive business decision-making. I am particularly drawn to your company because of its commitment to ROI-driven approaches to business intelligence."

"The project manager role at your company caught my attention because of what I read about your company's dedication to creative freedom. I have a proven track record of successfully managing complex projects without micromanaging, and I am excited about the opportunity to be a part of your team."

"I am applying for the marketing specialist position because I am thoroughly impressed by your company's creative marketing campaigns, particularly the sustainability-focused ads you've been putting out on LinkedIn. I have a strong background in paid marketing and a passion for creating strategies that drive leads for sales."

Sample answers for job interviews

When applying for a specialized role, you want to show the hiring manager that you are the best fit for the role. To do this, highlight the skills and experience you have that match the requirements outlined in the job description. 

Here's how that might look:

"I’m interested in the software engineer role at your company because I've always been passionate about creating software that can have a tangible impact on businesses. I remember one project at my previous job, where we developed a software solution that significantly improved the efficiency of our clients' business operations by automating essential day-to-day tasks. I was drawn to your company because I saw the same commitment to creating impactful software solutions."

"The graphic designer role at your company stood out to me because I've always admired your team's illustrations on social media. One of your campaigns that really resonated with me had a particularly unique design aesthetic combining glass morphism with ecological design. I believe I could bring a fresh yet fitting perspective to your design team.”

"I'm excited about the business analyst role at your company because I enjoy exploring the potential of business insights to drive product strategy. In my previous role, I led a project where our team used business analysis to revamp our product development strategy. We saw a 20% increase in sales over the next quarter. I was particularly impressed by your company's data-driven approach and would love to contribute to that."

You can keep track of questions and answers and jot down any relevant notes during each round of interviews with Teal’s Interview Tracking feature within the Job Application Tracker

Teal's Job Application Tracker

What not to say when answering, “Why are you applying for this position?”

Searching for a new role can be a frustrating process. Against your best judgment, you may sometimes give in to impulse and say something that jeopardizes an otherwise great interview. 

To avoid these mishaps as much as possible, here are a few tips on what to avoid saying when asked why you’re applying for a certain role.

  • Avoid overused resume buzzwords and clichés: Phrases like "I'm a team player" or "I'm a hard worker" are overused and can come across as insincere or unoriginal. Instead, provide specific examples that demonstrate these qualities.
  • Don't make it all about you: While it's important to discuss how the role aligns with your career goals, remember to also focus on what you can bring to the company. Show that you're not just thinking about what the company can do for you but also what you bring to the table for the company.
  • Avoid being overly flattering: While it's good to express enthusiasm for the company, excessive flattery can come across as disingenuous. Keep your praise specific and related to your professional interests and experiences.
  • Don't assume you've got the job: Confidence is good, but avoid making assumptions or acting like you already have the job. Statements like, "When I'm in this role, I will..." can seem presumptuous. Instead, use phrases like, "If I were in this role, I would..."
  • Avoid focusing solely on the short-term: While it's okay to discuss the short-term benefits of the job, make sure also to discuss your long-term career goals and how the job aligns with them. This shows the employer that you're considering the future and will likely stay with the company longer.

Examples of ineffective responses 

Now that you know what to avoid saying, let’s put it all together and look at a few examples of what an ineffective response would look like:

"I'm applying for this senior data analyst role because I've heard your company is a great stepping stone for eventually landing a position at a giant tech firm like Google or Amazon." 

This shows that you see the company as a means to an end—not somewhere you intend to stay.

"With over a decade of experience in marketing, I've led numerous successful campaigns and managed diverse teams. I'm applying for the marketing manager position at your company because I've heard the workload is manageable and the pace is slower than most firms." 

This gives off the impression that your work ethic is low and you’re looking for an easy gig.

"As a seasoned project manager, I've overseen a wide range of projects in the tech industry. I feel like I've seen it all at this point. I'm hoping that this role at your company can offer something new and different." 

While you may have seen a lot, no one has truly seen everything. This response can come across as cocky and overconfident. To avoid misrepresenting yourself in an interview by providing an ineffective response, use ChatGPT job interview prompts for more effective interview prep. 

Land your next interview faster with Teal

Remember; it's completely normal to feel frustrated or overwhelmed during the job search process. However, taking the time to prepare thoughtful responses to interview questions can help you make a positive impression on potential employers.

Want to accelerate your career? Teal is a comprehensive career growth platform for job seekers designed to streamline the process of finding your next job. 

Teal offers a suite of tools like a Job Application Tracker that can help you organize your search, tailor your resume for each application with the AI Resume Builder, and even analyze your LinkedIn profile with the LinkedIn Profile Review tool to boost your chances of getting called for interviews.

Sign up for Teal today to land your next interview!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tailor my answer to "Why are you applying for this position?" to align with the company's values and culture?

Research the company's core values and culture prior to your interview. In your response, highlight how your personal values and work ethic align with the company's mission. Mention specific aspects of the company culture that resonate with you and how you can contribute positively to that environment. Keep it concise by focusing on one or two key points that genuinely connect your aspirations to the company's ethos.

What should I avoid mentioning when answering why I applied for a job?

Avoid focusing solely on benefits like salary, location, or work hours, as these do not reflect on your interest in the role or company. Also, steer clear of negative comments about your current or previous employers. Keep your answer positive, emphasizing the opportunities for growth and the potential to contribute to the new company.

How can I effectively communicate my enthusiasm for the position without sounding insincere?

Be specific about what excites you regarding the role or the company. Mention particular projects, products, or initiatives that you admire and how you see yourself contributing. Share a brief anecdote or example that demonstrates your genuine interest and passion for the field. Authenticity is key, so ensure your enthusiasm is rooted in real aspects of the job that align with your career goals and interests.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

We help you find
the career dream.