Applying to job can be annoying and frustrating

Have you ever seen job adverts where they ask you “Why do you want to work for [company_name]” ?

Or “tell us about a project you’ve completed in the past that had a significant impact”?

Quite frankly most of the time applying to any and all jobs is because I need to start working ASAP! I need the money… the salary. What else? There’s your bloody answer. When people asking this question, it’s like they want us to tell them how great their company this. Make them feel good.

But you can’t be honest. If you say you are applying because you need a job and you need the money, you probably won’t get the job. No, they would actually need to be good people to to not make your honest answer a problem. Yeah I know what you’re thinking…you’re going to say, they want someone that is head over heels in love with their company. That’s what the company really wants.

And second question about impact, a lot of companies you go to work as a software engineer, you have tasks to complete and you complete them. Is that impactful? Probably. But it’s not something you can really mention for a question like that. They make it sound like everyone has a huge say in the team they are in. So we get punished for what our previous role did not allow us to do.

While there is a certain amount of artificiality around interviewing, those are fair and valid questions.

We all know that the reason people want jobs is for the income. That’s not in question. What an interview is about is trying to figure out whether a candidate and a team are a good fit for each other. It’s not about praising the company. They want to know what your interests and expectations are for the specific job you are applying for. It could be that you’re specifically interested in the technology they produce, or that you want to be on the ground floor of a new startup, or that they have a reputation for innovative products, or that your friend works there and said you’d get along with the team. Interviewing is expensive and takes experts away from their work. The same goes for onboarding a new hire. If you are unlikely to take the job or stay in the job, they want to know that early.

Asking you about your most impactful work gives them insight into what sort of experience you’ve had, what level of responsibility were you operating at, what do you consider to be “impactful”, and a concrete example of how you approach your work.

More than anything, both of these conversations (and other, similar cliche ones) create an opportunity for conversation with you. It gives them a sense of who you are, how you communicate, what is important to you, and whether you are an asshole.

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I agree questions like that can feel ridiculous but…

They have to ask something and they have to differentiate you from the other candidates. They need some criteria to make the decision.

I think this is really apt. You also need a way to differentiate yourself from the other candidates and this is your platform to do so. You can interpret these questions bluntly if it helps you think of a good answer “Why should we hire you and not one of the other candidates?”