“Why do you want this job?” is a dumb and offensive interview question. It’s a bad question to ask a job candidate.

Just because someone comes to an interview doesn’t mean they know they want the job.

They came to learn more.

We would be surprised and perhaps offended if a candidate asked us, “Why do you want to hire me?”

You never said you want to hire them. You only invited them to the interview.

It works the same way in reverse – from the candidate’s perspective.

It is rude and presumptuous to ask, “Why do you want to work here?” or “Why do you want this job?”

Here’s the most interesting thing about this question:

Although you can’t assume a candidate already wants to work for your company when they agree to attend a job interview, there is something important you as an interviewer can do to raise the candidate’s interest level.

It is a critical role for every interviewer to fill!

YOUR MISSION is to sell job candidates on the job.

Many of us have been taught the wrong recruiting mindset. We’ve been taught that our job as recruiters is to weed the less suitable candidates out.

We do have to tell candidates, “Thanks, anyway” and it’s one of the hardest parts of our job.

However, we also have to be willing to sell candidates – that is, to take their perspective, listen to their concerns and treat them like gold throughout the hiring process – if we want to hire great people who can help our organizations thrive.

Our job as HR folks, recruiters and managers is to MARKET and SELL our opportunities to talented people.

You are always vetting as in any new relationship but you are selling as hard as you are vetting.

It’s a new approach for many HR folks and recruiters (but luckily, many others have been recruiting this way for years).

Keep in mind that the ONLY sustainable competitive advantage any organization can attain is its culture and the great employees that trusting culture attracts. If the culture isn’t right, no other competitive edge is sustainable.

When a recruiting process is too focused on vetting and too little focused on selling, the best candidates don’t stay in it. They leave. They go to work somewhere else.

The more talented someone is (and thus the more marketable they are) the faster they will bolt from a broken interview process. Then we’ll never get their talents on the team.

Interviewing processes too often spring from the mindset that a candidate’s mission and duty is to prove they deserve the job more than other candidates. That’s the worst possible mindset. Coming from that mental place, we feel that candidates are a necessary evil. They use up our precious time. They are whiny and demanding.

We can shift that view and see candidates as amazing people who can help us grow personally and professionally – and of course, we can help them too.

When your organization gets the message that only by hiring sharp and inquisitive people can you succeed – along with the realization that often these candidates are least willing to tolerate bad treatment – everything gets better, fast.

Recruiting becomes a higher priority for department managers.

You take a hard look at your recruiting process, from start to finish. You examine it and every step in it.

You look at your communication with candidates. (You may recoil in horror: “THIS is what we send out?”)

You look at your employer brand, and your message. You see how much stronger these things could be!

When you sell to candidate, you network with them. You are focused on listening, as all good salespeople are.

You learn about people. You don’t assume anything about them – least of all that based on a short job ad they’ve already decided your organization is the one they want to work for.

Take a look at your recruiting process and ask whether more a human voice in it might make every aspect of recruiting more fun, more effective and more like the company you are and the one you’re working to be.

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