If you have attended more than one job interview, I am sure you have come across the question ‘Why do you want this job?’ asked in one way or the other.
At first glance it looks relatively easy to answer, after all most of us want a job because we want to get paid! It comes with the responsibility of maintaining a household, no matter how modest; with the inevitability of bills to pay and the occasionally need for a touch of luxury. Why on earth does anyone want a job if it is not to earn an income which gives us a modicum of independence?
So what’s with this type of questioning? It’s because the interviewer is seeking to clarify your Motivation.
There’s an old saying which goes “Some people work to live, and others live to work” – which points out that there are two reasons for working. The first is the one I mentioned, working to live; to be able to sustain a reasonable standard of living. The other refers to people who believe that work is its own reward, who would willingly do the work without thought about the financial compensation. These are few and far between.
Most of us would fit somewhere in between; accepting that it is necessary to furnish the basics of life through our work, and yet still wishing to find the type of work we could enjoy.
Employers like to know which one you are and where you sit on the motivational scale. But it’s not an easy area to asses, motivation is abstract and personal – and we all know that we can be motivated by different things at different times.
Telephone bill due and the bank balance low? That will supply a motivational factor of its own. Project interesting and time limited? This can provide you with motivation that is entirely separate from financial return. So for our interviewer to assess the depth of our motivation is rather a tricky task. Which is why they will use peripheral questions, like “Why this company, and why this job”
Your answers to these types of question can offer insights into the sorts of things that motivate you; and an assessment of your motivations and aspirations can be implied from them. So never dismiss questions lightly that are asked in interviews; there will never be a question that is not designed to find out something about you in relation to the job you are seeking in the company you have chosen.
Similarly, questions about your leisure time can be used to make a judgement about your personality and character. Do you like team sports? Then you could be an excellent team member. Do you prefer to challenge yourself in more solitary pursuits? Then it is possible that you would work well on individual tasks without supervision.
Do you prefer reading to going to the movies? It might be that you are a more likely to respond to intellectual reasoning and logic than to visual and emotional triggers.
Once the interview turns from your education, your experience and the details of the work offered to more general and personal questions, there is a tendency for the candidate to relax and even wind down. It is a fatal flaw.
Most employers want a little more than competence in their work force; they are also looking for someone who is compatible with the culture and ambience of their company. And just when it is important to go that extra step, too many candidates switch off.
When seeking employment, it is important that you understand that motivation can go beyond the obvious need to earn a wage – it is tied up in what interests you, what challenges you. If you are aware of this, you can create opportunities to show your prospective employer that, while the wage is important, being personally engaged in the work is also a factor for you.
So look out for those innocuous questions, and use them to highlight your motivation to obtain the job, and to do it well because it interests and challenges you. Create your own destiny.
Michele @ Trischel