How To Answer Interview Questions: Why Did You Choose This Career?
When asked the “Why did you choose this career?” question, some interviewees feel like the rug has been pulled from under their feet. Maybe because sometimes it is difficult to put into words why you have chosen to delve into a particular field. But if you want to secure that job, the question deserves an answer. Why do hiring managers ask this question? Is there a right answer for it? Are there wrong answers? How should you put your answer? Knowing the answers to these questions will get you prepared to answer the big question. Let us get you started.
Why the Question?
Recruiters want the best for their companies or organizations. For an establishment to grow, it needs a motivated staff behind the wheels. Telling your interviewer about your motivation assures him that you have a passion for the job. Your passion will move you to give your all to your career, show up to work on time, and carry out your role without grumbling. They want to be sure that your application is not a spur-of-the-moment decision and that you would last through any challenges that come up in the future.
What Should You Consider as Motivation?
Motivation varies, depending on your choice of career. For instance, if you are applying for a teaching job, having a passion for children is reasonable. If you are applying for a job in the military, the protection of lives and property is a good motivation. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the demands of the career path you are taking before choosing and wording your motivation.
Your reason for choosing a career could be influenced by literally anything – books, movies, the internet, influential people in your life like your parents or a teacher, a personal experience, or your course of study. Whichever it is, it is important to know how to put your motivation into a beautiful answer that appeals to recruiters.
Answering the Question – Things to Include and Things to Avoid
You may be tempted to tell it as it is and say you need a job so you can pay your bills and take care of yourself. That is not a bad reason to work but it does not portray a rock-solid commitment to your prospective employees. So, what should be included in your answer and what should not?
Things to Include:
- A personalized point of view – Own your story. Use “I” and tell it like it is undoubtedly yours. Explain why you love doing the job and how it makes you feel. You can also add what you plan to achieve if you are given the position.
- Timeline – This is important because it adds credence to your answer. Mention the event or influence that steered you towards the career path or the first time you fell in love with the job. If it is a book or movie that piqued your interest, mention it. Use applicable terms like “since I was a child”, “when I was in the university”, “when I read about the job” and so on.
- Reference to your skills – If, for example, you are applying for a job in a sector you have never worked in, but you have the complete skill set required, list your confidence in your ability to handle the job as your driving force. You can add that the job requirements come easy to you and are therefore something you would love doing. Make it clear that you have facilitated your zeal for the job by acquiring the needed knowledge and set of skills to perform the job well.
- Reassurance – Reassure your interviewer that your motivation is a driving force that will push you to learn, fulfill your dreams and work harder if given the opportunity.
Things to Avoid:
- Resist the urge of making the story about someone else. Do not say things like, “My friend asked me to try out this opportunity”, “It is a family career”, “My parents are both (insert career)”.
- Do not portray yourself as greedy, unserious, or desperate by implying that you applied for the job because of the pay package or because you were bored. It would be disastrous to say you chose the career because “This place looks like a good place to work” or “I am broke”.
- Avoid unnecessary details. While it is helpful to add a personal story if that is where your motivation lies, do not ramble or make it too long. The aim of the story would be lost if you do that.
- Do not lie or brag. This should be the first don’t of an interview. Do not say, “I do not need motivation for this job because I am overqualified and can do it with my eyes closed” or make a bogus claim about skills you do not have.
Hiring managers are aware that excitement about a job does not always equal doing it well. Plus, it is obvious that some job seekers apply for some positions out of necessity or as a first step in their career. If you find yourself in that position, calmly go through the job description and available information about the company. There must be at least one good reason why you even bothered sending in an application.
Getting Ready for your Answer
Now that you know about the career you have chosen and the dos and don’ts of answering the big question, it is time to formulate your answer so you can prepare ahead of time. We have prepared some samples that cut across a few careers to help you.
- “I have always had an interest in the human body since I was a child. I used to play doctor with my friends and I would pretend to treat them. It is safe to say that that interest and my concern for the sick has blossomed into a passion that led me to study medicine and to apply for this job”
- “Writing comes easy to me. In school, I worked at the school newspaper and contributed to producing the annual magazine the year I graduated. I have never felt happier. I love the thrill that comes with spinning words into stories”
- “I used to live in a neighborhood with a high crime rate. I watched houses and shops get vandalized and people killed sometimes. Applying for this job is my little way of giving back to society by making sure the lives and properties of citizens are protected”
- “I had just a surface interest in finance till I read/saw (insert applicable book or movie title). The moment I picked up that book, my life changed. It was a turning point for me and I read more about the topic and finally took a course on it. Since then, I have sought opportunities to practice what I have learned”
- “The works of (insert notable person) is an inspiration to me. I came across him/her whilst in the university and my interest in (insert applicable career) was aroused. I acquired the necessary knowledge to help me start a career and I have never regretted it”
- “My love for electronics started at a young age when I would use a screwdriver to take my toys apart and then fix them back again. I guess studying electronics engineering was just the right thing for me to do when I left secondary. I have continued to practice and work on engines and starting a career with (insert company name) will help me fulfill my lifelong dream of being an inventor”
- “My younger sister was very sick as a baby and I watched her suffer. But I saw the bedside manner of the nurses and the comfort they brought her. I made my decision then to be a nurse”
- “I knew next to nothing about (insert applicable career) five years ago till my guidance counselor pointed me towards that direction. Her help and love for the career was a great stepping stone and I fell totally in love”
- “I have always loved teaching but nothing else brings me greater joy than teaching preschoolers. I intend to make a lifelong career out of helping these young ones learn and grow”
- “Germs and viruses and how they affect the human body have always piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know how they worked and every other thing about them and that explains my course of study. I want to make a career out of helping prevent them from causing illnesses and taking so many lives”
The “why did you choose this career?” question is not so difficult after all. The answer lies within you. There is no shortage of answers. You can put every reason why you filled in a job application form to your advantage. But first, know the demands and skillsets required by the job. Know what should and what should not be included in your answer. Finally, but most importantly, prepare beforehand and practice.