DEAR JOYCE: You recently gave some very good answers to what job seekers being interviewed can say when asked why they have been out of work for so long. Can you give sample answers for when an interviewer asks why a person wants the job? -- J.G.L.
A reader interviewing for an office cleaner's job recently asked me how to answer a similar question: "Why do you need the job?"
Other than a suspicion that the interviewer is trying to find out how desperate you are and how cheaply you can be hired, this question suggests an inept interviewer. Here's what I told the reader to say:
"I need this job to earn an honest living. I want this job because I'm a hard worker who enjoys keeping things neat and clean, and because I hear this is a good place to work. I have excellent references. I live nearby. I learn fast. Assuming you pay market rate, when can I start?"
TAILOR YOUR ANSWERS. Use the question of why you want the job to restate your credentials, enthusiasm and commitment, as these examples suggest.
1. This company is a place where my qualifications can make a difference. As a finance executive well versed in the new financial regulations law, I see this position as made to order. It contains the challenge to keep me on my toes and promises rewards for top performance. That's the kind of job I like to anticipate every morning.
2. I want this job because it's tailored to my competencies, which include marketing and sales. In a previous position, I created an annual growth rate of 22 percent in a flat industry. Additionally, the team I would work with looks terrific and tuned into success goals I share.
3. I well understand that this is a company on the way up. Your website says the launch of several new products is imminent. I very much want be a part of this business as it grows.
4. Having worked through a college business major by building decks and porches for neighbors, this entry-level job for the area's most respected home builder has my name on it.
5. As a dedicated technician, doing essential research inspires me. Being part of your breakthrough team is an experience I'd love to repeat.
6. This job is a great fit for what I've been interested in throughout my career. It offers a satisfying mix of short- and long-term activities. My short-term accomplishments keep me cranked up, and my long-term accomplishments make me feel like a billion bucks.
7. Although some companies are sending American jobs offshore, your company is standing tall, remembering that prosperity begins at home. Your successful strategies, excellent reputation and shared values make it head and shoulders above its competition. I want to be part of your success team.
8. I'd fit right in as a counter clerk in your fine drycleaners. I have observed that the counter clerk position requires competence at handling several activities in quick order -- customer service, payments, bagging and phones. I like multitasking and, as a homemaker, I have a lot of practice in keeping all of the balls in the air.
9. The work I find most stimulating allows me to use both my creative and research skills. The buzz on your company is that it rewards people who deliver solutions to substantial problems.
10. I enjoy learning and I look forward to staying current on new trends and technologies, as well as systems and processes. As my academic record shows, I master new skills and information quickly. This is a perfect job opportunity for me.
MISTAKES. Don't say the company is in an industry you've always wanted to try. Don't say that you need to get your foot in the door so you can move to another job in the company in a year or so. And don't say that you need several more quarters for your Social Security. Such reasons are akin to telling a prospective buyer that you want to sell your house because the heating bill is too high.
Email career questions for possible use in this column to Joyce Lain Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org; use "Reader Question" for subject line. Or mail her at Box 368, Cardiff, CA 92007.