How to Answer This Question: How Badly Do You Want This Job?

Nancy Anderson
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The one interview question that could make or break your chances of landing a job requires thorough preparation: "How badly do you want this job?" Interviewers use this question to gauge someone's attitude toward a position. The key to answering this question is to reshape it into another question.

Showing Interest

Forbes HR expert Liz Ryan tells readers that questioning how badly you want this job is actually a way of asking about what initially interested you in the position. The answer to the question lets you show your interest in the job and the company. Your research pays off when you demonstrate your passion for the firm's products or services, solve an important problem within the company, or show how the organization first piqued your interest several years ago. Personal stories and personal explanations of your interest make your interview more memorable to the people in front of you.

Having a Positive Attitude

The phrasing of the question "How badly do you want this job?" may make it seem as if the interviewer is baiting you to say something emotional. Try not to say "I desperately need this job" or "I don't know what else to do." The way the question is worded makes it sound as if every candidate must go through some kind of ritualistic analysis before landing the position. That's simply not the case, and you should try to remove any and all fear related to your initial gut reaction to this question. Distance yourself from the phrasing of "how badly you want this job," and take the high road. Remain positive with an attitude of showing genuine interest in the position.

Thinking of an Answer

Ponder your answer by thinking of the many ways you might hear about an open position that could make you want this job. Respond with something such as, "My friend Joe told me about this upcoming position, and I immediately became excited. He says nothing but great things about your company." Another option follows a different tack: "I applied for a different position here last year, and we recognized I wasn't the right person for that position because I'm more interested in other aspects of your company. I'm delighted to come back and talk to you today."

At the end of your response, you might even ask a question of your interviewers. Consider asking about how your position fits into the long-term strategy of the company or how your future supervisor defines success in your role.

Gauging Your Response

Pay attention to the interviewer's attitude and response after you answer your question. If you suspect or think that the person only wants to hire the most desperate-sounding candidate who is the most submissive to the hiring manager, then perhaps this position isn't for you. No one should have to beg for a job. If the person wants you to grovel, the firm may do other shady things. Make sure to check employer review websites before coming to your interview.

Discussing how badly you want this job has nothing to do with groveling or showing desperation. A hiring manager asks this interview question either to gauge your attitude or to see how you describe your level of interest in the company.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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