“Why are you applying for this position?” This dreaded question often pops up on job applications…and your answer reveals much more than you might think! Our recruitment experts share why potential employers are asking this question and give tips on how to write an answer that could secure you a job interview invite.  
There’s a reason this job application question stirs unease in applicants — it feels like a loaded question that could cost you the interview. However, once you understand what potential employers are looking for, you can structure your answer to increase your chances of success. Read more: How to answer ‘What are your salary expectations?’
By asking, "Why did you decide to apply for this position?" your potential employer wants to understand which aspects of the role appeal to you and why. The question also gives you the opportunity to talk about your career goals, what you hope to learn, and what you can bring to the table in return.
Even if you’re firing out job applications en masse, no employer wants to feel like they’re on the receiving end of copy/paste answers. By asking you to reveal your motivation for applying to the company, a potential employer is looking for evidence that you’ve read the job description, researched the company, and genuinely consider yourself a match for the role.
When potential employers ask what made you apply for this position, they want to learn what value and experience you'd bring to the company. They'll be looking for answers that highlight specific skills, employment history, results and accolades that will benefit the team.
In an ideal world, an employer would hire someone who loves their work. When someone is passionate about their job, they're more likely to stay with the company longer, have a higher quality output, and learn willingly. By asking why you're applying, your employer is looking for evidence that you have a genuine passion and interest in the work.
The best way to answer this question is to revisit the job application and pull out any key skills and experience the employer is looking for. Use this information to write an answer that highlights matching experience and skills from your CV to score more highly on your application. Read more: How to update your CV to keep pace with technological change
Is the company heading in a direction that aligns with your personal and professional goals? Do they have progressive DEI or ESG policies that appeal to your personal values? A good answer will show how you align with the company’s trajectory, culture, and specialism, both personally and professionally.
This is your chance to show how much you already know about the role, how much more you’re hoping to learn, and to share any qualifications, accolades, or independent learning you’ve done around the subject. 
Although your answer should ideally appeal to your potential employer, giving an insincere response or being untruthful isn’t worth the trouble and could make your application stick out for all the wrong reasons. A little candour goes a long way (especially when teamed with diplomacy!). Honesty could be enough to give you the edge and help your application stand out.
It’d be a shame to spend time researching and writing the perfect answers for your job application only to have your professionalism undermined by spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. Small slips like this could be enough to cost you an interview, so it’s worth taking an extra five or ten minutes to check your answers using an AI editor tool or by getting a friend or family member to read it for you. 
Although it’s good to be honest about why you’re applying, mentioning a keen interest in moving to other departments or roles implies that you’re using this role as a stepping stone. Employers are less likely to offer the job to a candidate who has their sights set elsewhere as they'd rather avoid going through the hiring process again so soon after making a hire.
Information overkill can cost you a job interview invite! Good job application answers are typically short and to-the-point. Try to keep it to two paragraphs, using only the most relevant details that specifically relate to the role and the company you're applying for.

Feeling ready to fill out your next job application? Upload your CV to the Robert Half website or start browsing for your next job opportunity now. To learn more about job application best practices, visit the Robert Half advice blog.