Interview Question: "What Interests You About This Job?"

Image by Theresa Chiechi. © The Balance 2019

Regardless of the job you're interviewing for, there are a few general questions that you're likely to be asked, such as, “What interests you about this job?”

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know

You shouldn't give ambiguous answers to questions like the one above. The interviewer wants to know specifics about your personality, goals, and qualifications, and you should be prepared to avoid generic answers.

The interviewer will ask this question to ensure that you understand the job you're seeking. They need to see that you comprehend the key requirements, as well as the skills needed to excel, and how your experience matches up with the responsibilities of the job. Basically, interviewers are looking to see that your understanding of the role matches what the company is looking for.

How to Answer “What Interests You About This Job?”

To help prepare for the interview, carefully read the job posting, noting the stated requirements regarding skills and experience. You can also see if there is additional information about the position you're applying for on the company website.

If the job listing is short, and there is little (or no) information on the company website, you can look up similar job listings on sites like Indeed.com.

You can also do an online search for the job title to get some general information. 

Before your interview, make a list of your skills and experiences that match the stated requirements. Think about specific examples of how you successfully applied these skills to other positions and how to match your qualifications to the job.

When answering general questions about the role, don't talk about how you would benefit from being hired. For example, answers like, “I want a job that will help me build my career” make you seem more focused on yourself rather than how your background benefits the company. You also want to avoid answers that emphasize the job's perks, from health insurance to free lunches, or make it seem like the real appeal is employment and a paycheck. 

You should avoid generic answers. Instead, tailor your answer to show that this role is particularly well suited to your skills, experience, and interests, in a way that will benefit both you and the employer.

Be enthusiastic in your response. This is an opportunity to talk about what you find appealing about the position, and you should seem positive and eager to take on the role in your response. You should emphasize that you're qualified for and passionate about the job.

As much as possible, make it clear how hiring you will benefit the company in terms of the role itself, the product, and the organizational mission.

Examples of Best Answers

Customize these answers to fit your experience and the job you're applying for. 

I'm extremely interested in the Human Resources Manager job. As you mentioned in the job listing, I'd be responsible for recruiting, orientation, and training. I was responsible for all three of these functions in my most recent position. As Human Resources Assistant Manager at XYZ Company, I recruited over 100 employees and led training for all new staff members in a department of 45 people. I'm interested in this job because it would allow me to use my previous experience while continuing to develop my expertise in new areas of responsibility.

Why It Works: This answer cites specifics from the job posting. The applicant includes them in their explanation of interest in the job and how the role fits their experience.

I'm interested in this job as a programmer because I'm extremely interested in, and skilled at, learning and excelling at new technologies. I've mastered programs and languages ranging from Python to Java, and I look forward to mastering more programs as they're developed. I'm also interested in creative problem solving, a skill I developed when working as an analyst for the past ten years.

Why It Works: This answer recognizes that learning new technologies will be required, along with creative problem-solving. The applicant cites experience in doing both, along with an interest in both job skills.

I'm interested in this job as a special education teacher because I value your school’s mission, which is to focus on the unique needs of the individual child. As a special education teacher for the past six years, I've developed strategies for achieving academic and personal success for children, and I look forward to bringing these strategies to your school. For example, I developed a system for staying in regular contact with the parents of my students so that I could problem-solve issues with them. I would like to bring this kind of communication tool to your school. 

Why It Works: The applicant recognizes the school’s mission and suggests a technique developed at a previous job to help achieve the mission.

Tips for Giving the Best Answer

Research the company. Find out all you can about the company before your interview. Check the company’s job listing. Look for similar job postings on online job sites.

Make a list of your skills and qualifications. Try to match your job skills and experiences to the company’s stated requirements and the requirements of similar roles elsewhere.

Know the company mission statement. Be aware of the company mission statement when developing your answer.

Be positive. Be enthusiastic and eager in your responses.

What Not to Say

Don’t give canned, generic answers. Don’t say things like, “I’ve heard this is such a good place to work.”

Don’t talk about how you would benefit. Don’t say things like how the job would be a resume builder for you.

Don’t focus on the perks. Don’t talk about sick or vacation days, health insurance, or any other job perks on the first interview.

Possible Follow-Up Questions

Key Takeaways

  • Your interviewer wants to know how your experience matches up with the responsibilities of the job.
  • Your interviewer wants to know if you understand the role of the job.
  • Emphasize the company and its mission, with a nod to your job skills, instead of focusing on yourself.
  • Briefly discuss how hiring you will benefit the company.