In preparing to answer this interview question—even if the interviewer asks why you like the role as opposed to why you like the organization—you should be sure to map out a response that addresses the following key points:
- What are your career goals and how does working for this organization fit into those goals?
- What do you know about the hiring organization?
- What do you love about the hiring organization?
If the interviewer asks you to share why you want the specific role rather than why you want to work for the organization, you can follow all of the same points outlined above, but you should also include why this specific role is interesting to you. If you fail to call out the details of the particular position, you're leaving room for the interviewer to wonder whether you're a fan of the organization looking for any opportunity to get a foot in the door (not always a bad thing), or whether you're actually a fit for the current opportunity.
How does this organization align with your goals?
If your career trajectory easily aligns with the work of the organization, this question will be a lot easier for you to answer as your interest in the organization should be relatively obvious to an interviewer who has carefully reviewed your resume and cover letter. Here's how you may want to cover this first bullet point:
"I've worked in [FIELD or ISSUE AREA] for [X NUMBER OF YEARS] and I'm looking for an opportunity to continue to grow in the field. I'm very dedicated to [FIELD or ISSUE AREA] and since I'd like to make a shift from [FOCUS IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE] to [FOCUS IN NEW ROLE], working here feels like the right next step for me.
Here's how this part of the response looks when I fill in more specifics:
"I've worked in workforce development for five years and I'm looking for an opportunity to continue to grow in the field. I'm very dedicated to employment access issues and since I'd like to make a shift from direct service to policy, working here feels like the right next step for me."
What do you know (and what do you love) about this organization?
This is your opportunity to show off all the research you've done. Remember to go beyond reviewing the organization's website by:
- Signing up for the organization's newsletter
- Following the organization on social media
- Setting up a Google alert for when the organization is mentioned in the media
- Setting up a Google alert for the organization's CEO or founder
- Review one or two recent annual reports or skim over their Form 990
- Search online publications for any mention of the organization, even if it's just that they moved offices or rebranded
Be sure to prepare to share a few things that you really love about the organization as well (not simply what you know about them). While restating your interest in the field is useful, you should dig deeper and put all of your good research to use. Do you have a favorite outreach campaign that they ran? Was there recently a major shift in leadership that you strongly agree with? Did they release a statement about current events that really resonated for you? This is your chance to show that your connection to the organization and the work goes beyond the specific job opportunity.
Pro tip: While most interviewers—whether you're interviewing in the public or private sector—will ask this question, it's a bit more sensitive for those of us in the social-impact world. In this situation, an interviewer doesn't simply want to hear why you think you're a great fit, they want you to talk about why you love the mission of their organization—a mission that they most likely care about very deeply.
Get more tips from our Interview Q&A series.
What interview question stumps you every time? Tweet at us or email us at email@example.com and we'll do our best to walk you through the perfect format for a killer response!
As the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications at Idealist and a lifelong nonprofit professional, Alexis offers job seekers, game changers, and do gooders actionable tips, career resources, and social-impact advice.