When prepping clients on how to address this question, I am typically faced with the same response - "not that question again, it is pointless!". It may feel that way, but like the other dreaded question ("Tell me about yourself"), there are multiple reasons why this question is usually asked at least once during the interview process. Your answer to this question says so much about you such as:
The good thing for you is that most people brush this question off as being pointless, so you can quickly differentiate yourself in an interview by going in prepared by following these two easy steps.
1. Why the Company?
Start with researching the company to show an authentic interest in working there. First stop is their website - read their About Us section, go to the careers page - see if there are any videos or description about what it is like to work there, and finally check out the press room and skim some of the more recent articles. From there, check out their social media pages (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook). And finally, see if you know anyone who works or used to work there and quietly reach out to ask some questions.
Take all the wonderful information you found and begin to craft an answer by choosing some key information that you learned and weave it into your response to show that you did your work.
2. Why the Job?
This again starts with some research. First off, why did you apply? What was it about this job that make you take the time to send in a Modern Day Resume and cover letter? I would then go into a job analysis of how your background lines up with what they are looking for and what the responsibilities of the role are. Pay close attention to key points mentioned a few times - for example if the summary, the responsibilities and the qualifications section all mention similar things (ie MS Outlook, managing calendars, strong leadership) then make sure you include some those as your reasons to join. You may also want to take some time connect the role to your career path being careful not to talk beyond this job, just how it is the next logical step for your career.
Next comes the easy part by putting together what you've learned and researched above in an answer. For example, someone applying to be a Marketing Manager may use something like below:
When I saw this Marketing Manager opportunity come up with ABC Company, I just knew I had to apply. I have long known about your reputation for providing best-in-class customer service to your clients while being dedicated to innovative ways to penetrate new markets. Plus, I am thrilled at the opportunity to potentially join a dedicated marketing team reporting into leadership in Canada and not its American headquarters. What really piqued my interest, though, was the role's focus on building a Canadian product line and being able to own the creation of its brand, which is similar to what I have done when I introduced a new product line into Canada while at my most recent employer. This opportunity builds on my track record of successful product launches while allowing me to be even more involved at the development level.
Since most people feel that this is a throw away question, I've seen some weak answers in the past. Even people that do some prep work for this question fall into some common mistakes, when thinking about your answer think about these don'ts:
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