One of my company's most popular YouTube videos is about answering the question, "why do you want this job?" in an interview. Ironically, we get a ton (I mean a ton!), of snarky comments posted on it as well. They all say something like, 

"Well Duh. I want the job because I need money to live."

I realize people think they're being funny. But truthfully, lots of people make the mistake of coming across as money-hungry in inteviews - and it costs them the job. The fact you expect to be paid is understood. But, when you imply it's the main reason you're looking for a new job, it sends the wrong message to employers. Here's why...

Money is a short-term motivator. 

While money can buy you things and make you feel more secure, the joy you feel once you start the job fades pretty quickly. As you get into the routine of doing your job and paying your bills, the thrill drops off. All that's left is the work itself. Which means, if you don't like what you're doing, you'll be miserable. For example...

He took the hazard pay and regretted it soonafter.

I once knew a job seeker who was desperate to make more money. Against my advice, he agreed to take a position requiring him to work nights and weekends, just so he could get a 50 percent pay increase. Within two months of working there, he quit. The work not only bored him, but the disruption to his life made him so sad he struggled to get out of bed. He was a really social guy that loved to see his friends nights and weekend - which ended when he took the job for what we call in the biz, "hazard pay." And, while you might assume things got better when he quit, they actually got worse. As he started to apply to other jobs, he had to explain why he left his new job so quickly. Owning up to the short-sightedness of his decision and how he was so miserable that he quit didn't make the best impression. It took him another four months after that to get hired.

Talk about how the job supports your values and beliefs instead.

When you're asked why you want the job, it's important to share how you see it aligning with who you are as a person and a professional. Talk about how the work leverages your strengths. How the company culture aligns with your personality. And, how you'll use the job to further develop your skills so you can increase your value and effectiveness on the job. When you can tie your own goals to the opportunity, you prove to hiring managers that you're internally motivated (a/k/a have a reason beyond money to work). This usually gives them the confidence needed to trust you'll stay engaged and productive on the job long-term. The more you can prove your desire to land the job is aligned to things besides money, the better!

Published on: Jul 22, 2019
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