In a tough economy, jobs can be hard to get. How you answer certain interview questions can mean the difference between getting a call-back and getting ignored. The interview process has become much tougher, and with so many people trying to get into one particular job, it comes down to who gets the most attention with their answers. When you are asked ‘why did you choose this career,’ there are some answers that work well and some that will get you shown the door.

First Know the Variations of this Question

Keep in mind that this question can be asked in many different ways. They might ask ‘what factors led to you choosing this career’ or ‘why did you go into this profession,’ or they might simply ask you why you want to become a certain type of professional. They might even ask you ‘when’ instead of ‘why.’ Another way to ask is to turn the question around: ‘Why did you choose to do this instead of all the other things you could be doing?’ It might be rare that someone actually uses the words ‘Why did you choose this career?’

How to Answer the Question: Why Did You Choose This Career?

Why the interviewer is asking this question

This question is all about getting to the heart of your motivation. The interviewer wants to know how much thought and time and effort went into your decision; they want to know that this is what you truly want, and that it is not just a job you want to move into until something better comes along. They need to see dedication in your answer. Don’t try to bluff about this, as whatever you say can lead to even more questions, and eventually you will be revealed as bluffing – and that means you will not get the job!

How to answer

General rule:

Take some time to really think about the question before it is asked. You want to know exactly why you made the decision you did, and be able to explain every one of the factors that led to it. You don’t have to go into a long detail about each one, but you should be able to if you are asked. You want to present your answers in the most positive light, so avoid the negative reasons why you might have chosen this profession (for instance, ‘it’s the only one hiring around here right now’ is not a good answer!).

Never be vague when answering. Be clear and precise, and explain your skills and talents as best you can. Make it clear you are passionate about the job, and about everything associated with it. It’s not just about the money for you – it’s about the work, and being in a job that feels like the right fit. Convey that to your interviewer, and you are likely to get a call saying you’re hired!

Noble intentions:

Why did you choose this career? Maybe you had noble intentions. If you are going into law or medicine, or even some areas of government, this answer can be great to get you in the door. Maybe you want to help others, and this was the best way you knew of to do it.


You can also point out your interests in the career. Maybe it was all you ever wanted to do, and you were working toward it from a tender age. Maybe it is something that intrigued you when you took a class and you had to pursue it.

Your skills:

You can also point out your skills, and how they are a perfect fit for the job. Your character matters, too. For instance, you might be extremely patient, or you might be great with people, or highly organized. All of these can be a great way to answer the question of why did you choose this career.

Tell stories:

If there is a particular person who influenced your decision to go into the career, that’s even better. You can tell a story about them, and that might help you connect with the interviewer.

Why did you choose this career in this particular job climate?

You might have been looking for something where you could quickly advance and put your management degree to use. You might be looking for a career that offers excellent job security so you won’t have to worry about being in the job hunt again.

Sample Answers Which Are Helpful

Here are a few good responses:

“From the time I was a child, I knew I wanted to do something like this. I was always correcting things and fixing things that were lying around, the things everyone else thought were broken. So working in a field where I get to troubleshoot things every day is just an extension of what I have always loved to do.”

“This feels entirely natural for me. I love being in a fast-paced environment, working hard to complete a project, talking to a dozen people at once, coordinating schedules and ideas and plans…that’s why this kind of job works for me.”

“I love to tinker with how things look, which is why design is great for me. I am never quite satisfied. I always think I can make it better, and I am doing so up to the point where it goes out to market. I’m a perfectionist in a market where that’s what gets things done.”

Answers That Are Bad

“I like how easy the money is in this career. Eighty grand a year for doing so little is sweet. It allows me more time to spend with my friends and more time to play, while I still make good enough money to enjoy all the time off.”

“I like having less pressure. I’ve had pressure in other jobs, but this one seems to be a nice way to ease into retirement.”

“Why did I choose this career? I had been unemployed for so long that I was looking for something to challenge me, and this seemed like a good change to make. I would like to give it a try and see if it works out.”

In Conclusion

When an interviewer asks ‘Why did you choose this career?” they are actually asking you for help. They want to know why they should choose you over all the other people who are applying for that job. Your answers help them see that you know yourself, you understand the job requirements, you will be working in the job for many years, and you have researched the field so thoroughly that you know exactly what you are getting into.


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