Why did you apply for this job?
It’s natural that the employer wants to know why you applied for this job. They are looking for the right person for the team and the company, not only for a professional. They want to know if you would be a good fit and they want to find out if you’ll stay with them for a while. Therefore this question comes up in almost every interview.
This question should really be easy to answer if you’re keen on the job and the company. It’ll only be difficult to answer if you applied at random for several jobs, hoping to find “something”. I personally think that this random approach makes not much sense. If you apply for a job which you don’t really want, you’ll most likely not be happy in the long run. It also makes rejections more likely if you apply for jobs which aren’t a good fit, which will make the job search even more frustrating than it already is for many of us.
So, why did you apply for this job?
To answer this question, ask yourself what your true motivation was to apply for this job. If your first reaction is “I need the money” or “I don’t like my current job”, think a little further. You took the decision to apply for this particular job for a reason. It was a conscious decision. I’m sure you looked at other job ads and didn’t apply because you didn’t find them attractive. So think back to that decision. Even if it’s mainly for a better salary, why did you apply for this particular job?
You were most likely interested in certain aspects of the job profile or the company. Go back to the job ad and double check which points particularly spoke to you. Note these points down. Then check the company’s website and take notes on what you liked about the company. Was it their history; their mission; their culture; the industry? If you already did this exercise before you sent the application, you just need to go back to your notes or your cover letter and double check what you wrote.
Alright, let’s try this
Once you have your bullet points, do a little exercise. Explain to a friend or family member why you applied for this job. This will help you to phrase the answer nicely and your counterpart might ask some follow up questions which can be useful for the interview too.
When you’re asked “why did you apply for this job” in the interview situation, the important thing is to be authentic and tell them what truly interests you about the job or the company. Avoid making up arguments which you don’t support. Recruiters see so many candidates every day and usually have a really good feeling if you’re honest with them or not.
There is no right or wrong...
If you’re authentic and tell them what you really like about the job or the company, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s how you feel, it’s your truth. That’s the important thing. This question won’t decide if they’ll hire you or not. This decision never depends on a single answer. The decision is always based on the general impression you make.
All recruiters I talked to confirm that the most important thing is that the candidates are authentic, don’t play games and don’t lie. Just answer the question “why did you apply for this job?” openly.