The Number One Interview Question – And How to Ace it!

… why …?

Start with Why

— Simon Sinek

‘Why’? Why?!

It’s the interview question that everyone dreads when they meet a prospective employer: “So, why do you want to work here?” There tends to be only two types of reasons for working in a particular job. And they’re not exactly exclusive: passion for the area and money. But neither seems like a satisfactory answer. While great reasons to pursue a career in whatever path it is that you’ve chosen, liking the idea of being an engineer or wanting to be an engineer because it pays well, isn’t exactly going to give your interviewer a sense of confidence. Maybe you can say because you’re good at it? But then so’s the person that will be coming in after you. And the one after them. And after them. etc. etc.

Man Having a Tough Job Interview… Clearly!
Photo by Markus Spiske on

We tend to find it very easy to prepare ourselves for other sorts of interview questions. It’s easy to have examples of teamwork or independent thinking or great achievements ready for when, not if, we’re asked for them. But knowing why we want a partciular job is often forgotten about. And what a crime that is, considering it’s the most important question there is; not for the interviewer, but for you.

And It’s Not Just Recruiters…

If you don’t know the reason why you want the job, you limit your chances of being successful in it once you get it. Even the best job in the best career in the world will test you and fate has a nasty habit of interfering with your life. So when the deck feels stacked against you, you will begin to ask yourself why you are doing this. Now it’s you asking the question, and not the interviewer who posed the question because they saw it on a list of ‘Top 10 Interview Questions’ (stay tuned on this blog!). But now you are accountable to yourself, and the difference between thriving and surrender is knowing why you are doing this. It’s worth enduring the hard times because… [INSERT PERSONAL REASON HERE]. It’s the same principle that athletes, politicians and even couple do (and if they don’t, should!) turn to. I am doing this because… [INSERT SAME PERSONAL REASON HERE].

Photo by Pixabay on

How to Ace the Daunting ‘WHY’ Question

The best way to approach the why question, is to flip it on its head. People don’t instinctively like ‘why’ questions, so we make it a what.

What do you want from your job?

Go ahead and write that down now on a clean sheet of paper. Now make a list of 5 essential elements. They could be a strong cohesive working environment, or making a difference or even the old cliché of pursuing a passion. If it feels relevant to the question, it counts.

You’ve done it. Now you get to ask the job (before the interview that is- don’t pose these questions to a recruiter yourself!) why do I want you for my next job?

If the job doesn’t tick some to all of those boxes, then you don’t want it. Because you don’t have that why. And once you find a job that does, you apply for it and get invited into that dreaded interview? Well, you’ve got your reasons ready to go!

Good luck!

What did you think of this simple exercise? Does it help readjust your perception of why you should go for certain jobs? Let us know in the comments below!

Got a handle on ‘why’ but now thinking your CV might not?

Head on over to for a free evaluation!

And be sure to ask for Jake!

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