Why, as job seekers, are we so hesitant to ask some of the simplest questions? Holla’s received hundreds of emails from job seekers in the past year and a good number of those questions are fairly specific – “in this situation, what should I do?” or “how do I discuss this particular job on my resume?” In 14 months of writing, we’ve never once been asked one fairly simple question – “why do I want this job?”
Well, Mr. or Ms. Jobseeker, why indeed? Why were you looking for a job in the first place? What enticed you to come back for a second or third round of interviews? Who impressed you during the interview process? What’s unique about the hiring company’s business model or market presence? What opportunities will you have to advance there and how will the company judge your performance? No matter what we earn, a yuppie-noble yet serious answer to these kinds of questions should quickly come to your mind before you consider accepting any offer.
Too much of our energy during a job search is focused on things that are inherently unimportant – title and compensation. While both the label put on your position and what you be paid as a top performer in that role will weigh heavily on your final decision whether or not you’ll accept an opportunity, neither should be the determining factor when you finally make the jump. As a professional recruiter, Holla meets with hundreds of people a year, many of them at or near the 1% barrier. Why do these top earners seek new opportunities? Is it for the ability to purchase another car or home? The overwhelming majority feel unfulfilled in their current role and want a chance to be more impactful for a company with a better product, service or strategy.
We coach hiring managers to ask this question of their candidates as part of their core interview technique. Asking a candidate why they pursued and accepted a particular position gives insight into their drive and motivation as employees and thought leaders. It also helps to bring out their maturity (or lack of) as career-minded professionals. If someone looking for a job can’t tell you why they took a job or a reason they unclouded by emotional causes, why do they want the position they have on offer? And if that candidate can’t tell you concretely and convincingly why they want your job, why would you ever want to hire them?
If more thought is given to what really makes us as employees happy to work day in and day out, we’d look differently for new opportunities, make more thoughtful career moves and would likely have to look for new roles with less frequency. By keeping these questions – ones with answers that should excite us and will result in excellent work – more mutually beneficial hires can be made.