Answering, “Why do you want this job?” 3 times when it’s a tough sell

This is one question you must be prepared to answer in an interview. You might think it’s airtime filler for interviewers—a question to check off their list. Not so fast, there are times when interviewers are concerned. Very concerned. Here are three major concerns interviewers might have.

One of them might be if you’re changing careers. Another might be if your commute will be like 60 miles each way. The third, you’re willing to step down in title and salary. In all three cases, you’ll need to make a great argument for why you want the job.

You’re pivoting to a new career

In the minds of the interviewers they might wonder if your decision was thought out, or if this is the only option you have. You’ve exhausted your unemployment benefits and need a job quick could be another thought that crosses their minds.

I made a career pivot from marketing to career development. The thing was I sincerely wanted to get into career development. I didn’t hate marketing; I just wanted to help people land employment. So in my mind it was an easy sell.

In your mind, it needs to be an easy sell as well. If you’re tired of teaching high school physics and want to get into technical training, your answer to why you want the technical training position has to take the interviewers through your thought process. Here’s a possible answer:

While I enjoyed many aspects of teaching, I feel that training various departments and outside stakeholders will be extremely exciting. I know there will be travel involved, but I’ve always enjoyed traveling to other states in the U.S. as well as internationally.

And your product line is exciting. I can see learning more about video conferencing quickly. I’ve already used your top-line product in my physics classes. In fact, I had to teach other faculty how to use the product, in some cases in group settings.

If you have any questions about my transitioning from academia to the corporate world, I will embrace the excitement I enjoyed before teaching fifteen years ago. That’s one thing I really missed when I was teaching. Some of my colleagues (chuckles) would tease me about being so “corporate.”

It’s always been hard for me to make up stories. I believe this is true for most people. Point being is that you have to want to change your career. And, you need to know to which career you want to pivot. Don’t enter the interview like it just dawned on you yesterday that you want a new venture.

You’ll be driving to hell and back

The reality is that hiring authorities take a serious pause when they see you live, say, 50 or more miles from the company. I recall showing a recruiter one of my client’s resumes. He took two seconds to look at it before saying, “No good, she lives 50 miles from our company.”

Didn’t he want to see her qualifications? She was an engineer who knew the language the company was using, C++, and had experience with JAVA. In addition, she had security clearance, something his company required. Still, there was no chance she was getting an interview.

This won’t always be the case, but you will be asked the question of why you would want to work so far from home. Interviewers might wonder if you’re desperate for a job. Or they might think, “Yeah, Bob likes traveling 100 miles each workday. Put millage on his 2009 Honda Civic.” Not likely.

You have to have an answer for the recruiter whose first question will be, “So, I see you live in Lowell. Um, that’s 45 miles to Worcester. Why are you willing to travel this distance?” You’ll want to make this short and sweet, and be truthful.

I understand your concern. It’s a valid one. However, I’m used to traveling long distances haven grown up in the mid-west. A two-hour drive there and back was nothing. So a 50-minute drive really won’t be a problem.

In addition, the second job you see on my resume was a 100-mile round commute. I was never late for work, nor did I call in for a snow day during the three years I worked there. What it comes down to is I see this job as a great opportunity, which I’d like to talk about.

In this answer, the candidate negates the recruiter’s concern talking about having made a similar commute and assuring the recruiter that they were never late for work. This is a valid concern for hiring authorities. Make sure your answer is compelling.

You’re taking a step back and willing to accept less money

This scenario has been a common theme with my clients, as a majority of them are mid-management and above. In fact, one of my former customers took a position that pays him $20,000 less that what he made. He claims to be happy for a number of reasons.

First, he’s finally working. As someone who was out of work for more than a year, he was more than ready to be “on the job” again. This is what interviewers need to know; people who’ve been out of work want nothing more than to work.

Of course there are limits to which they will go. For example, they won’t take 50% of what they were previously making. This doesn’t make economic sense.

Second, his life style actually improved. The bills he had are no longer there. Car payments, mortgage, children’s tuition, all gone. Previously he drove 30 miles to work, which took him an hour and a half because of traffic. This equals work-life balance. Big time.

Third, he’s no longer at the director level. He’s an individual contributor responsible only to his manager whom he claims to like. In other words, he took a step back. What interviewers also don’t realize is that there are job seekers who don’t want the stress they once had to endure.

If you find yourself being questioned about why you’re willing to accept less salary and take a step down, consider your financial situation and career goal. The above scenario might fall in line with your life.


Of the many questions you should be prepared to answer, this is one that often gets overlooked. It takes job candidates off guard. But interviewers are concerned. They might think you’re a risk if you fall under one of these three categories. Be ready to put them at ease and hopefully mean it.

This post was inspired by a thought-provoking long post.

2 thoughts on “Answering, “Why do you want this job?” 3 times when it’s a tough sell

  1. Pingback: Answering, “Why do you want this job?” 3 times when it’s a tough sell – CDC INFO

  2. Pingback: Answering, “Why do you want this job?” 3 times when it’s a tough sell — Things Career Related « BCS Overland Park / Leawood Kansas

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