The interview process is rife with irregular conversation.
Because when you bring it back to basics, interviews are simply conversations. Professional conversations to be sure, filled with loaded questions and rehearsed responses, but two people meeting just to talk none the less.
Sometimes when you're conversing, the seemingly simple questions are the ones that are actually more complicated -- and the way you answer holds a lot more power than your professional designations.
And if a hiring manager really wants to see if you're the right fit, your reasons for applying to the role may tell them a lot more than your resume will.
So what motivates you?
It’s a broad question, but one that will zero in on your potential fit with a company’s corporate culture and beliefs. And, while different strokes may motivate different folks, the way you answer the question of what makes you move can affect whether or not the interviewer wants to move you higher up in the hiring process. So, take these tips into consideration:
1. Research the corporate culture (and align your answer)
What does the company stand for? What are their values? What charities do they support or what corporate awareness initiatives do they take part in? Before you meet face to face, your research will help you uncover the answers you need to base yours on.
If you’re interviewing at a not-for-profit, naming career advancement as motivation maybe isn’t the wisest idea. Or if you're interviewing for a position at a bank, stating a crusade against Uncle Sam probably won't get you the gig. See where we’re going here? You should always tailor your answer to the company's beliefs and business objectives.
And if you can't align your reasons for wanting to work there with their reasons for being in business, maybe it isn't the best fit.
2. Incorporate your successes
When you discuss what incentivses you to work, you can capitalizing on a great opportunity to highlight the accomplishments that were achieved.
Are you applying to a role at a tech start up that specializes in app creation and you simply LOVE TECH!? Well, stating you want to work there because you go crazy for the latest gadget isn't enough to get hired. In this scenario, you need to demonstrate how you're particularly passionate about applications.
Do you have previous professional OR personal experience creating an app? What got you excited about the problem that needed to be solved, what challenges did you face during the process, what was the outcome? Elaborating on your passions by providing quantifiable and verifiable proof of your successes is an asset on your side.
So, when they asked you why you applied, your answer may sound something like, "I love tech, but I especially love programming. It's so exciting for me to discover new ways to solve every day problems. Last year, I created an app that......"
3. Stay enthusiastic
Candidates should only apply to roles they're qualified for, so if you have 1-2 years' experience, don't risk application fatigue by applying for management positions.
However, if you lack a year or two of experience for a role that you are qualified for, don't let it affect your enthusiasm. What another candidate has in years, they may lack in personality or cultural fit.
If you're applying for a finance role and have experience at a bank, demonstrate your passion for the industry by highlighting ways in which you went above and beyond to achieve your goals. What pushed you to exceed expectations, and why would you do the same for this company?
If you lack the professional experience in the field, but have years' worth of volunteering, a personal history of advocacy or other verifiable reasons for your application, have situational stories prepared and convey how you would bring that passion to their position.
4. NEVER use money as your motivator
Compensation is important to everyone, but admitting it’s your number one focus, or that you just really need this job won't add any value to the conversation, and will more than likely decrease yours.
Make no bones about it: Regardless of where a candidate lands on the professional totem pole, honesty is the bare bone requirement for any application. And if you can't honestly align your reasons for employment, you may need to re-think your resume strategy.
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