This question is another case of the interviewer being a partner to both the company and the job seeker. The interviewer is trying to get an idea of what motivates you, and if that fits the job for which you’re applying. In addition, an honest answer to this question can help the company make the job more customized to your needs. Many companies are willing to do that – adjust the job within reasonable parameters so a person can excel.
Here are some examples.
“I loved working directly with customers, that really fulfilled me.” Many retail jobs have segments that are task oriented, such as restocking shelves or managing inventory, and jobs that are customer oriented, such as working the register or the customer service desk. This answer would help a company gear a retail job more to the customer service side of things.
“I enjoyed the challenge of troubleshooting problems. When someone else doesn’t have the answer, I love finding it. I’m really good at that too.” Giving this answer for a technical support job would tell the employer that you’re the go to person for tough issues. Not only would it motivate you, but solve a problem for the employer because not many people like working on the tougher technical issues.
Research helps with this question. Knowing the company and the job can help formulate an answer that is more likely to result in landing the job. If the job involves a lot of typing, and you love to type, the answer “I worked hard to become a speedy, accurate typist. I enjoy putting those skills to work,” is a strong one.
Thinking about this question in the first place can help you choose the right job, too. The answer “I enjoy working by myself” in a team environment wouldn’t be a wise choice. Not only would it be a negative in the employers’ eyes, but it would make the job a real grind. But it could be that the job is step one to a greater goal. Sometimes people take entry level jobs to prepare for what they really want to do. A good employer will understand that.
The keys to answering this question are:
A “How Not to Get Hired 101″ answer would be one given by a recent college graduate during a rather unsuccessful interview. “I live for the challenge of a beer drinking contest!”