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Why did you choose this career path?

Similar interview questions:
Why did you decide to become a _____?
What factors influenced you to choose this career path?
Why do you want to become a _____?

This is one of those questions that, as broad as it is, you should have a well-prepared and specific answer for. You want to demonstrate to your prospective employer that you are focused, know what you want, and have a genuine passion for your chosen industry.

The most important thing is to show the interviewer that you have specific reasons for choosing that particular career path, as that implies a dedication and enthusiasm that will motivate you and get you far. You could point to aspects of your personality, interests or significant experiences from your personal or professional past that have helped to steer you in your present direction. Citing reasons of money, status or that your parents made you do it won’t do much to advance your cause – demonstrating passion, however, will.

Show the interviewer that you and the position you are applying for are a perfect fit. If you are applying for a job in public relations you could say, ‘I’ve always been a strong communicator and people person. I also like a fast-paced, high-energy environment so a career in PR is just a natural path for me.’ Alternatively, if you are applying for a design job you could mention your excellent eye for detail and aesthetics, and your life-long fascination with all aspects of design. Perhaps you have been sketching and working on personal creations from a young age, and can name certain designers or mentors who have inspired and influenced you.

With such an open-ended question, be specific but refrain from rambling on too much. Don’t give long and boring answers – be direct and to-the-point. Pick one main reason why you chose the career path and elaborate with a few specific points (keeping in mind the job requirements). Show the interviewer that your skills and personality are exactly what their company needs.

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is seeking to understand your underlying motivations for selecting this career. It is also a good question for the interviewer to learn how much planning and thought actually went into your career selection. Are you there by random acts and/or chance? Or is this part of a well-designed plan? For most candidates, it is somewhere in between, but the interviewer will likely drive into the details that you provide, so don’t try to bluff your way through this answer (or any interview answer).

The best approach to answering this question:
Spend time considering this question before the interview. This is one of the questions that often catches a candidate without a solid answer. You need to think about all of the factors which influenced your decision in advance. That doesn’t mean you have to include them all. Be selective. Include the positive influences, not the negative ones. If you did advanced research and planning, this provides the solid foundation. If there was an individual (or individuals) who influenced your career selection, that provides a personal side to the story. Keep it positive.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
“I committed myself as an Accounting major my Freshman year of college. I spent my energies in college preparing myself to become a world-class accountant. But it wasn’t until my internship after my Junior year that I began to develop my interest in tax accounting. I was assigned a mentor that summer who continued to stay with me as my mentor after I graduated who helped me understand the field better and map our my career plans…”

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
“There were many influences that went into my decision to select this career field. One of my early mentors was a business friend of my mother, who worked in the insurance industry and encouraged me to explore opportunities in this field. She pointed me in the right direction to explore the possibilities. But it was the combination of my career research along with my professors in my major who helped to solidify my decision. My internship last summer helped me to get an inside view into the world of work in this field…”

An example of how you should not answer this question:
“Well, I took a class with a professor I really liked, he made the class so fun that I thought this might be a really interesting way to make a living. I didn’t really connect the dots between the major and potential career until late in my Senior year. Although I love Chemistry, I wasn’t really interested in working for a company in the chemical field. So I had to look around to see what else I could do with my degree. I guess I really just fell into this career field because it was the only thing out there available at the time for someone with my degree. I didn’t really plan it that way.”

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

No matter which position I hire for, one question always on the cards for me is to ask the interviewee ” Why did you take up this career?”. There has been numerous occasions where the candidates across the table was stonewalled by this query. Not less is the frequency where the candidate either groped in the dark or was trying to figure out an actual response. In some other scenarios the interviewee was seen brooding over the same for one or two minutes before which he/she delivered a rhetoric which would be sweet to the ears, but with strong attestation from your heart that its nothing but a cooked up answer. This post is revisiting how to be prepared to answer such a pivotal query from the interviewer. Remember, your response could make or break your job. Yeah, its a SURVIVE or SINK Shark attack !

Recently I interviewed a Designer who was accosted with the same question during the course of the interview. His answer was ” After my Pre-University Course, I was stumbling across different career options. That’s when someone told me a course in Web Designing would land me in job pretty soon and that I could make easy money. So I thought of giving it a shot”. The problem here is the fact that the person who is sitting across the table is not passionate about the job. He is just trying to levitate himself to a pedestal which would make his life secure. Does anyone on earth want to hire him? No sane person would answer YES to it.

When you answer this question, try to anchor on the following points and try to connect the dots.

Skill and Talent appear on the A-List

No Hiring Manager would want to hire someone who is not rich with his talent and skills. Revisit the skills and talent you have and try to map it to how important they would be to the career in question. You may want to hit some of those key areas of the KRA or Job description document and express how your skills would be able to hit the benchmarks.

Passion

Galelio Galilei once exclaimed “Passion is the Genesis of Genius”. Rightly so, Hiring managers are looking out from the watch towers for people who want to enjoy their career through sheer passion and not through obsession. So, make it out in the open how much you are passionate about the nuances and intricacies of the vocation. How the different challenges called for by the career would be of interest to you and why you want to take up those challenges could be comprehensively rendered to the Interviewer.

Job Satisfaction

Responsibilities sans Job Satisfaction could lead any career to be an albatross around the neck. It would only help in creation a JOB Burnout situation which would progressively amplify over the years and finally you decide to quit. This usually happens when people make the wrong career choices. However, here, convince the Interviewer about how much job satisfaction you would derive from performing the key responsibilities involved in the career path ahead in question. Assure the interviewer that your personal goals could also be met as you are venturing into a career you seem would generate satisfaction.

Future Goals

Try to pitch in the Career path which lays ahead and what ominous skills do you have so that you could fine tune and chisel them up through the right exposure to take up challenging responsibilities in the future. Let the hiring Manager be apprised about the long term career goals you have planned how you strategically aim to achieve them. This will send the message that you are serious about the career you are in and would stay abreast of new trends and updates of the industry

Value Additiion

Last, but not the least, let the interviewer know and convince him how you could BECOME AN ASSET to their company and the job at hand through the VALUE ADDITION you would be able to provide in the total chain of operations. Remember, this question of your career choice has come up when you were being considered as a potential candidate for the Job. So, lets not forget that and try to use the question as a bedrock to grab your job Offer

More importantly,stay away from shoddy answers like:

  • This career makes me mint easy money
  • In this form of work, there are less responsibilities and no work Pressure.
  • This job allows me to take care of my personal life easily
  • This career offers a lot of freedom and flexibility
  • Hunting for jobs, this career came up .As I was unemployed, I thought to give it a try.
  • This is just a Pit-Stop for me before something churns up for me in my dream career

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