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The Question of WHY You Want the Job

Paula Goodman
By Paula Goodman, Director of Recruitment / HR Client Services-CUHR at Columbia University
September 22, 2016

It is highly likely that the lead-in question from an interviewer in higher education could be “why are you interested in this position?”  It is one that I personally use—or some variation on it.  An easy trap that candidates  fall into is “Because it’s at xxxxx” .  This response is particular common when candidates are interviewing with prestigious institutions.  That is not all what interviewers want to hear and in fact causes them to find the response annoying. 

While the prestige may be one of the draws for you, interviewers want to hear about why you are interested in THE  OPEN JOB.  They want to hear about your passion for Finance, or IT, or Admissions, etc, etc.  Hiring the right person to join their teams and carry out the responsibilities of their unit is what matters to them.  Of course fitting in with the culture of the whole institution is important but early on you need to convince them that you really want to do what they need someone to do.  If, however, you happen to be an alum of the school in question you can certainly weave that fact into your answer later in the interview, pending of course that you had a good experience at your alma mater.


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