How would you answer the question, why are you looking for a job? Perhaps you’d say, “Because I need one!” Or maybe you’d answer, “I’ve always wanted to be a part of a company like this one…”
The answer to this question is very important. You should answer it for yourself when you begin your job search, letting it guide you. You should also think about this question before attending a job interview. Below, we’ll consider how this question can affect you in both situations.
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How It Affects Your Job Search
The question “Why are you looking for a job?” is directly related to your current needs and your career goals. Your answer can help you forge the right path and get you closer to your goals. Let’s examine each of these categories more closely.
“Because I Need a Job”
Your job search may be centered on filling current obligations and needs. For example:
- You’ve just graduated from school and you need to find your first employment to pay your bills.
- You have family obligations and you must provide for others financially.
- You lost your job suddenly and need to find a replacement.
- You have debt, and perhaps you feel you need to take on a second job.
The reasons listed above give your job search a sense of urgency. Providing income for yourself and others becomes the primary impetus of your job search.
“Because I Want This Job”
There are also other factors to consider in your job search, especially if you have a financial cushion and a less immediate need for income. You might ask yourself:
- What are my ultimate career goals? Will this position be a stepping-stone to help me reach them?
- Does this job offer opportunities for additional education, training, or promotion?
- Will I enjoy the type of work I’ll be doing?
- What additional benefits does this job offer?
- Will this job allow the work-life balance I desire?
- How does the salary compare with my current lifestyle and financial goals?
How It Affects Your Interview
According to Indeed, interviewers use the question “Why are you looking for a job?” to better “understand your goals and motivations.” They may want to know “how much thought you’ve put into starting your job search, why this specific job opportunity is appealing to you, and what you’re looking for in your next position.”
It also helps the interviewer to determine whether you’re leaving your old job on good terms. Did you choose to leave in order to change or expand your career? Were you fired for poor performance? Or, like many job-seekers, was your position terminated due to economic conditions beyond your control?
Answering this question in a positive way will benefit you during the interview process. You’ll want to think about your answer before you ever go to your interview. Consider a few do’s and don’t’s.
- Do talk about opportunities and how this new role aligns with your career goals.
- Don’t trash your former employer or workmates. This will only serve to make you look bad, as if interpersonal skills, conflict management skills, or problem-solving skills are lacking. After all, if you say negative things about your former employer, might you do the same to them one day?
- Do answer honestly.
- Don’t focus on the negative if asked about your past job. Keep your comments brief, and turn the conversation to the new position.
- Do focus on your skills – perhaps things you learned in your last position that will make you a good fit for this one.
What if you were furloughed or let go from your previous job? Can you give this fact a positive spin? Your hiring manager is no doubt aware of current events or new items that may have affected the company or the economy at large. Again, be frank and honest, but don’t dwell on the negative. You may even highlight educational or volunteer opportunities you engaged in while unemployed, or discuss how the circumstances helped you bring your career goals into sharper focus.
Thinking about why you’re looking for a job is very important. It can direct your job search, whether your goal is securing steady income or realizing self-actualization through your career goals and activities.
It is also important that you think about this question before going on your job interview. Your employer may use it to determine why you left your previous job and whether you’ll be a good fit with his company. Always be positive, focus on what you can bring to the table, and avoid negative comments about previous work situations.
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