How to Answer ‘Why Are You Looking For a Job’ Interview Question

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‘Why are you looking for a job?’ is a surprisingly common interview question to receive, regardless of the industry or role you are interviewing for. This article will show you how to prepare to answer the interview question, ‘Why are you looking for a job?’

Why employers ask, ‘Why are you looking for a job?’

The question ‘Why are you looking for a job?’ helps interviewers discover a few key pieces of information. If an interviewer asks you this question, they probably want to learn:

  • Why the job opportunity is interesting to you
  • How much research you have done about the job and company
  • What you are looking for in your next position

Employers are also looking for any potential red flags. They may want to learn how you handle conflict resolution in the workplace and whether you are likely to stay in the role long-term. You can come to an interview prepared to answer questions about your current job and why you want to leave.

Surprising ways employers ask, ‘Why are you looking for a job?’

Interviewers could phrase this question in a variety of ways, even if they are looking for similar information. They may ask:

  • Why did you leave your last position?
  • What new challenges or opportunities are you looking for in your next job?
  • Why did you apply for this role?

How to answer, ‘Why are you looking for a job?’

Focus on a few key elements when answering the question ‘Why are you looking for a job?’:

1. Prepare your answer in advance

Plan what you would like to say before the interview, and then practice so your answer is concise and clear. Try practicing in the mirror, or ask a friend to role-play with you and give you feedback. Aim to keep your response fairly brief, no more than one to two minutes. 

2. Stay positive

Keep your answer as positive as possible. Instead of highlighting negative elements of your current job, focus on what you hope to get out of your next one. You can tell your interviewer how the role you’re seeking aligns with your career goals.

3. Focus on your skills and strengths

In your answer, highlight your skills and strengths. This is an opportunity to demonstrate what differentiates you from other job candidates. Highlight your professional development training or education, important projects that you are proud of, unique experience that you have or other elements of your resume. This demonstrates the value you bring to their team.

4. Connect your answer to the job

Connect your answer to the position you want. You could briefly explain why your current role or company is no longer a good fit for you, but pivot quickly to explaining how your skills and experience match the job you are applying for.

This is also a great place to show off the research you have done about the company. You can explain that you are looking for a company that has a certain culture or mission, for example.

5. Be honest

You do not have to tell every detail of the truth, but you should still focus on the honest reason that you are leaving. For example, you could mention that you are looking for an opportunity to use certain skills or accomplish new things.

Do not worry too much if you were laid off. Mention the fact and then quickly move on to the positive elements of your answer.

Example answers

Here are some example answers to, ‘Why are you looking for a job?’ interview question that you can use to inspire your answer:

Example: Improving your skills

‘I have had a great three years at my current company. However, my role is mostly focused on data analytics. I am really passionate about converting data analysis into strategic stories. 

I have been looking for an opportunity to expand on and develop this skill. That is one reason I was so excited to find this position. It will allow me to grow even stronger and take on more responsibility in this area while using my background in data in a sales-oriented environment.’

Example: Developing your career

‘I have really enjoyed promoting the brand and representing my current company. I am looking for a position where I can build on my successes in an environment where I can also build a team. I love working as team lead in my current role, so I was excited to hear that this company places a major emphasis on management training and growth. 

I love that your company’s mission is to revolutionize the healthcare space. I cannot think of a role that I would be more suited to given my background to bring value to your company.’