Why did you choose this field?

Choose a fieldWhy did you choose this field?

This interview question comes in many forms. And the answer may be your only chance to address the “Why” question.

Job interviews are said to be about addressing only three questions:

  1. Do you have the skills?
  2. Will you fit in with the culture?
  3. Are you passionate about the work?

Sometimes, your only chance to respond to the third item on this list is just a single question. It may sound like, “Why nursing?” “Why are you in education?” “What do you love about marketing?” or “What is it that keeps you up at night?”

Now, as a question that asks about your core motivations and values, seeming unprepared for “Why did you choose field?” or even a little uncertain, can bear a very high cost.

336x280So let’s make sure you get it right in your next interview.

Here’s a simple formula for addressing this question: First, address the origin of your motivation, a more distant part of your personal history. Then, explain what keeps you energized about the work on a daily basis or led you to where you are today. Finally connect your story and motivation to this job, the one you are interviewing for.

Here’s a real example from a past customer, who was asked, “Why do you want to be a mental health nurse?”

Mental health is an important issue for me. When I was growing up, my cousin Tom, was an inpatient in a mental health facility. While I never knew what his illness was, I felt a personal connection with him, and was deeply concerned about his welfare and quality of life. 

So I decided to work with people like Tom, and became a nurse’s aid, in mental health. After working as an aid for a couple of years, I realized that assisting these individuals was important to me, and that I wanted to provide an even higher level of care.

So, I went to school at night to complete my nursing degree, where I finished in the top 10% of class. Now that I’ve finished my program, I want to combine my professional experience with my new training. After researching your facility, I know that the patients you serve are the group I care about the most and this position fits with my career goals.

Looking at the first half, the beginning describes, a historical reason for why, and the second half explains how this nurse candidate reached this current point.  The final sentences connect this job to the individual’s goals.

If you aren’t sure of your origin story, the historical context for why chose this field, think about how you would fill-in a phrase like this:

“Growing up….”

“When I was in school…”

“Several years ago, I had an eye opening experience…”

For the second half, what still keeps you energized, think about phrases like:

“What I’ve realized I enjoy the most about my work is…”

“Over the last couple of years, when I go to work each day…”

“After working in ________, I realized…”

Alternatively to this structure, think of three reasons why this topic is important to you and find at least one past example that highlights your reasons.

Finally, don’t forget. Be sure, to include a connection to the specific job and organization. If you can show you did a little homework on how this job seems meaningful to you, it’s much easier to prove your passion.

Best of luck in your next interview, and in answering the question, “Why did you choose this field?”