do you really need to say “I want this job” in interviews?

A reader writes:

I’ve been reading a lot of career advice and I see a lot of people say that in an interview, it’s vital for you to directly say that you want the job. I have always assumed it’s implied that I want the job based on the fact that I am interviewing. I feel it’s better to show I want the job through enthusiasm. But what do you think?

Yeah, I hate that advice. Most candidates don’t do that, even when they’re genuinely enthusiastic about the job, and they shouldn’t (and generally don’t) need to.

As you note, your interviewer assumes you’re interested in the job because you are interviewing for it. That doesn’t mean you definitely want the job — part of the point of the interview process is for you to learn enough to decide whether you do or not. But you’re clearly interested enough to be there.

Announcing in that conversation “I want this job!” isn’t usually necessary, just like your interviewer isn’t expected to announce “I want to hire you!” on the spot either. Reasonable interviewers want people to take time to process their thoughts and think over what they’ve learned during the interview.

You will find interviewers out there who say they want to hear a candidate declare that they want the job … just as you’ll find interviewers out there with all sorts of other preferences too. But it’s far from a universal thing. In my experience, the interviewers who want it are a very specific type of manager — salesy, brash, ones who sometimes reward brashness over merit — and that may or may not be the kind of manager you’ll do well working for. By all means, if that’s your own personal style and you want to work for someone with that style too, feel free to go ahead and declare, “I want this job!” But if you don’t feel comfortable making that a standard part of your interviews, my bet is you won’t love working for the managers who think you should.

And frankly, lots of interviewers dislike that kind of hard sell. Good interviewers want to have a real discussion with you about whether the job is the right fit and want to see that you’re thinking critically about that too. They don’t need you to sell them, and trying to can be a turn-off.

To be clear, you should show enthusiasm. You should come across as interested and engaged and enthusiastic about doing the work. But with most interviewers, you don’t need to say the words “I want this job.” (That said, a spontaneous, unplanned “I’d really love to do this job!” is a different thing, and experienced interviewers can usually tell the difference between that and something that was part of your planned spiel.)

Another piece of similar advice floating around is that you should ask for the job — and you don’t need to do that either. Asking for the job puts your interviewer on the spot, creates an awkward situation if the answer is no, and will come across as overly aggressive to many, many interviewers. It’s another piece of bad advice from people who think of interviews as sales pitches, rather than collaborative conversations where both sides are trying to determine whether it might be the right fit for them both.

{ 143 comments… read them below }

  1. Foreign Octopus*

    To be honest, I feel that coming out and saying “I want this job” feels desperate. And you may well be desperate but I’m not sure that’s the sort of thing you should be broadcasting as it undermines your negotiating ability. I’d avoid something like this altogether and just come across as enthusiastically as possible without seeming demented.

      1. wendelenn*

        Now I have the song from “A Chorus Line” going through my head.

        Who am I anyway? Am I my resume?

        1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

          The nice thing about remote work is that I can burst into showtunes at opportune moments, such as right now because you have given me that earworm!

      1. JustaTech*

        A coworker’s aunt sent her a card when she started at my office that read:
        Outside: Reasons I love my job:
        Inside: I like to eat.

    1. Me*

      Agree. It’s an awkward thing to say. Interviewing = wanting the job. Sure maybe not 100% but if you didn’t want it you wouldn’t be here.

      Is it a huge red flag? Nah. But if all things are equal between you and another person, I’m going with the other person.

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        If I have taken time to learn about the company and if I like what I’m hearing from the interview and elsewhere, I may say something like “It sounds like you’re really making a difference in the world of teapot design and I’d love to be part of it.”

    2. Artemesia*

      That is the way it feels to me. There are so many ways to say the same thing without saying it. Primarily you want to be enthusiastic and interested and asking questions about the work and sharing your experience with the work. You can remark that a project describes sounds interesting or talk about what you like to do or would like to do on the job without begging for the job. It also feels a bit lie giving away your bargaining position i.e. a hint of desperation. ON the other hand being very laid back or reticent may come across as not interested in the job, so it is important to think about the interest you project.

      1. Jack Straw*

        FWIW I negotiated an additional 10% over what I was offered even after I said I’d take the job regardless of what they came back with.

  2. KHB*

    This sounds like it’s coming from the same place as the advice to call up employers and ask to “schedule an interview” – which is not how any of this works. Employers will schedule an interview with you when they’re good and ready, and only if they want to. Similarly, if they think you’re the best match for the job, they’re not going to just forget to make you an offer because you didn’t say “I want this job” or “Can I have this job?” It’s not a magic incantation.

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I used to get junk mail from the maker of my car saying “Your service appointment is scheduled for Wednesday April 14, call us to confirm or reschedule.” It came off as incredibly pushy to me. I’ll choose my own mechanic, dammit.

      1. Rayray*

        I remember the summer before my senior year of high school, I got a postcard in the mail informing me of my senior pictures appointment. I was transferring to a different school anyway and even so, I did not want a bunch of pictures of myself and I definitely didn’t want to pay high prices for them. Definitely seemed like a huge money grab, I bet there were people who thought it was mandatory.

      2. PollyQ*

        I wonder if they really put those appointments on their schedule. It seems like they’d run a fairly high risk of having time blocked for a no-show if customers didn’t call to cancel.

        1. Junior Assistant Peon*

          The mailings said to call to confirm, so I doubt the appointments were real. I suspect the dealership probably had to do some last-minute scrambling to keep the illusion going when people showed up to the “appointments” without calling ahead.

  3. Blisskrieg*

    I know a lot of people who “ask for the job” but I’ve seen it done in a way that is not pushy. Because it is about the candidate and the company getting to know each other, it is done as an affirmation at the end that yes, I’ve listened to what you’ve been saying, and I want to reiterate after this conversation that the job is very interesting to me. the job is *asked for* but not in the immediate sense of “give me an answer” it is more of a thank you for continuing to consider me.
    I’ve had some very pushy candidates over the years, so I don’t look at everything through rose colored glasses. I’ve seen “asking for the job” done well is I guess what I’m saying.
    I do work with a lot of Sales people and people with Sales background–usually they are very seasoned, so they may have mastered the art of subtlety by the time I hear their pitch :)

    1. merp*

      I have tried to do versions of this at the end of interviews – like, yes, after all of this information I’ve learned, I would be interested in this job! not sure if I pulled it off and maybe it’s not necessary, but there sure is a lot of conflicting advice out there to try and thread the needle with. I appreciate this question showing up here.

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        I think that makes sense to do. Like “thanks for the opportunity to talk, I think this really sounds like a position I would be very interested in” or something.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      That’s my thought as well. The candidate doesn’t have to say the exact words, “I want this job,” but some sort of acknowledgement that they are still interested after the interview can be helpful for everyone: “I look forward to the next step.” or “I’m happy to answer any other questions you may have.”

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      Yup, asking for the job is still very much a thing I see for sales roles and for those positions, if I’m a hiring manager I want to see the candidate ask for the job (just my opinion). Outside of sales roles though? That is a much more slippery slope. Your pitch as a candidate better be pretty airtight plus the manager needs to react positively to said pitch which is definitely a risky proposition.

      1. Blisskrieg*

        Oh good–glad it is not my imagination. My roles are not Sales roles, but we get a lot of crossover. I’ve seen it work really, really well but I agree, if your pitch is off it could get awkward –fast.

    4. TWW*

      I agree. Toward then end of the interview for my current job, I said, “If you offer me this job, I will accept.”

      I don’t know if it was necessary, but I was called back the next day and offered the job.

    5. Hiring Manager sometimes*

      I have interviewed former sales people who are interested in transitioning out of sales into a non-sales technical/academic role where this kind of ask is very much Not a Thing. They invariably try to “close” the interview with a hard sell, either asking for the job directly or asking me to say (on the spot) if there is anything in their candidacy that would give me pause in hiring them. I try to help them and let them know the interview “close” is not done in our academic field.

  4. ThisGirlIsTired*

    I’m hiring two people right now. Yeah, no, that’s not a thing, at least for me. Just show some enthusiasm and interest in the job (maybe do some research on the org beforehand?) and that’ll SHOW me you want the job without having to explicitly tell me.

  5. Cat Tree*

    I’ve been on the interview side of things a few times now, and if a candidate directly declared that they want the job, it would be really bizarre. If everything else was good, I don’t think that would be a deal-breaker. But it would be really weird and I don’t even know how I’d respond.

    I always ask a candidate why they’re interested in this specific position, so they already have a chance to explain why they’re interested. But I assume they are at least somewhat interested just by applying, because nobody applies for and interviews for jobs they don’t like just for funnies.

    (This kind of reminds me of a guy who made a grand gesture of asking me out a few years ago. He was pleading his case by telling me all the things he liked about me. Which yeah, I already believe you like me because you are standing there telling me you like me. I totally get where he got the idea from romcoms and such, but when the feeling isn’t mutual it just highlights how much this approach doesn’t make sense.)

  6. Anononon*

    My dad has previously given me the advice before to “ask for the job”, but he’s been in sales for decades, so it’s definitely not relevant advice for most situations. (Fortunately, he’s also fine with being told that his job searching techniques are outdated.)

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Asking for the job is still very much a thing that happens (and is expected) for sales roles which I think makes obvious sense. Outside of sales, I would probably advise people to not do it unless you have an incredibly smooth pitch.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        I was thinking the same thing. The “ask” is a very big thing is sales. A lot of would-be salespeople fail simply because they don’t ask for the sale.

  7. Lacey*

    I’ve been asked a few times if I’m still interested in the job after hearing about it. And I usually say “Yes!” but there was one instance where I actually was not and it was nice to be able to just acknowledge that it wasn’t going to be a good fit and end the interview there.

    But, I think that’s a very different thing than feeling like you need to work in that you want the job somewhere.

    1. BethRA*

      Yep. We always do an initial short phone call for screening purposes to go over some basic details about the job, compensation and benefits and yes, I will ask if folks are still interested after that.

      But once you get to the interview stage? Yikes.

  8. GammaGirl1908*

    I think it does make sense to express that the position sounds like a great fit for your goals, or that you’re even more interested in the job now that you’ve learned more about it, if that’s true. There’s nothing wrong with expressing these things, and, as mentioned, showing enthusiasm. I’ve interviewed people where I wondered if they even wanted the job, because they seemed unenthusiastic about it. If saying that you are very interested in the job works and fits and feels right in the moment, I don’t have an issue.

    It’s the following a *script* of asking for the job that’s unnecessary and can be disingenuous. There aren’t magic words to say to get a job. It’s not a job-getting hack to make a point of asking for the job.

    1. Anononon*

      Yeah, I think something like “after hearing more about the position and what it entails, I’m even more interested in it because XYZ” is different from a “Thank you for time today. I definitely want this job!”

      1. Jack Straw*

        This is nearly word-for-word what I said I’m the interview for my current role. And it was 100% true. I was geeked about the job after I got the details, and the interviewers could tell.

    2. Guacamole Bob*


      Making it seem like you want the job is great – I’ve interviewed candidates whose motivation for applying to the specific role we were hiring for seemed to start and end with “I don’t like my current job”, which is never a great sign. But going out of your way to utter the exact words “I want this job” is really odd.

      1. allathian*

        I guess I’m glad I’m not involved in hiring on a regular basis. Especially not for entry-level jobs that attract a lot of unemployed candidates who aren’t really interested in getting any job as long as they can get by on benefits. Or at least who are only applying because they have to, while they’d really prefer to stick to their own field, which I definitely don’t blame them for.

    3. Dicey*

      When I was interviewing for my current role, I had an informal interview with the person who held the role before me (they’d been promoted internally). They asked me directly as their final question if I wanted the job. I had a beat for some quick thinking and decided that because I genuinely did want the job – I didn’t have to leave my role previous to that but wanted to specifically for this role – I said yes. It’s the only time I’ve ever been asked and I think Alison’s personality advice is totally spot on. Now working in the same company as the interviewer, they’re still refreshingly open and direct.

    4. Jaydee*

      I was going to say something similar. Applying and interviewing imply that you want the job. You can more strongly imply that you want the job by saying things like “I’m very interested in this role because…” or “I’m excited to hear that this role includes X because that fits with my skills/goals.” But unless you’re not actually worried about things like salary, benefits, workplace culture, specific job responsibilities, etc. you don’t actually *know* if you want the job until after the interview and realistically until after the offer.

    5. NancyDrew*

      I was once told (years after I’d been hired) that it was my clear passion for the role that won me out over the other finalist. So I think it’s really important for people to be up front about their excitement for a role (if they ARE excited for it)! I look for it in my hiring too. (I work in an industry that is sought-after by a certain population so most open roles get hundreds of applicants, and genuine enthusiasm can help someone stand out.)

  9. ian*

    Is this different if its an internal hire such as a promotion opportunity? I’ve heard that advice more there, since I think there’s a potential assumption that people are applying for the job as a “next step” or a “only way to advance” option without considering whether they want the job itself.

    1. KHB*

      Even then, though, it’s less about saying the words “I want this job” and more about demonstrating that you’ve thought about what the job involves and believe it to be a good match for your skills and interests.

  10. nugget*

    One of my biggest early-career cringes happened during one of my first professional (i.e. not retail/restaurant) interviews. The interview started wrapping up, and my interviewer was phrasing things like “so you’ll be doing x, we’ll get you trained on y” and I flat out asked “so do I have the job?”. There was a PAUSE – and I realized that he hadn’t meant *me*, he had meant *the person we end up hiring*.

    Maybe putting him on the spot worked though, since he responded with “yes” and I worked for them for two years lol. But I definitely did not mean to do that.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, almost every interview I’ve ever had has used that sort of “you” statement when they mean “whoever gets this job” but it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking they mean you, specifically!

    2. Cruciatus*

      I remember at probably my first interview ever, toward the end, they showed me around the place and were showing where “my” desk would be, and this and that and I kind of figured I already had the job won. I don’t think I said anything to anyone, which helps lessen some embarrassment, but I do know that when I didn’t get the job I was like W!T!F!? But, but, they showed me “my” desk!

      Oof, so much I had to learn. Better to have those cringey stories earlier than later!

    3. Rayray*

      Lol! This is great. I’ve had interviewers day things like that and I thought exactly what you did but didn’t have the guts to say something. I think I also was shown where “my” desk would
      Be and who I would work with.

      I might have to use this next time ;)

    4. RDG*

      I am SO careful when I talk to candidates for this very reason! I even beat myself up when I accidentally sign off of video interviews with “Talk to you later” (my standard signoff) because then I’m wondering if they’re thinking, “She said she’ll talk to me later…like when we’re coworkers?!”

      I was in a sorority in college and there were so many strict rules about “bid promising” during recruitment–you couldn’t do anything to imply to someone that they would be coming back for the next round, since the whole house needed to meet and discuss. So we were all trained out of saying “see you later,” “talk to you later,” using “you” statements to talk about house events (e.g. “you’ll participate in X activity”), etc. I think that’s why I’m hyper-aware of this from the interviewer side.

      1. Rayray*

        It’s good to be aware. In my excitement, I have definitely interpreted a “see you soon” or “talk to you later” to mean I’d do her get a second interview or that I might get an offer.

  11. ThatGirl*

    It’s interesting to me, thinking about this – I’ve often said/been asked this sort of thing indirectly, like “I’m interested in this job because…” or “why do you think you’d be a good fit for this job?” And expressed enthusiasm that way. But it does seem like coming out and saying “I want this job” does sound a little… desperate?

    As for asking for the job — isn’t applying for it basically doing that? I mean, at least asking if you can be considered for it.

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      I was going to say this – I feel like “why do you want this job/think you’d be a good fit/what is it about the job that interests you?”-type questions, which are pretty standard in interviews (I think I’ve been asked a variation of that at every interview I’ve been in), are effectively assuming you want the job and therefore giving you the window to express your enthusiasm for the role and the organisation. Maybe this is a culture thing – I’m in the UK and I think outright saying ‘I want the job’ would be considered forward to say the least – but it feels like by asking you *why* you want the job, the interviewer is working on the default that you *do* want it for whatever reason.

      1. Red flags, don't want the job*

        As a candidate I would much rather an interviewer avoid asking me directly if I’m interested in the job or if I want the job. Clearly I’m interested enough to proceed with an interview or set of interviews. I’d rather them ask “Why do you think you would be a good fit for the role?” than “Why do you want this job?” because there are times when I still don’t know if I want the job even if I’m currently in an on-site interview. Sometimes you just don’t know until you piece all of the red flags together later on (this just happened to me recently).

        If they did ask if/why I wanted the job, I’m definitely not going to say “I want the job because of X and Y” but I’ll instead respond with “I think I could be good at this role because of X and Y”. Then if it turns out the job/offer/company is not a good fit I can still turn it down without the interviewer going “wait, they said they wanted the job, what happened?”

  12. TheCultureisStrong*

    I rarely disagree with Allison, but I work for a company where a loud declaration that you don’t just want a job, but specifically a job at this company, impacts the hiring decision.

    We had a candidate apply for a position twice, and strongly state they wanted to work here and they beat out all of the equally qualified candidates, based on their enthusiasm.

    1. anonny*

      Lots of places have their own peccadillos, doesn’t make it universally good advice. I once worked for someone who didn’t like hiring applicants who didn’t accept a beverage at the start of the interview (though it was about graciousness, if I remember right). That doesn’t mean everyone needs to be sure to accept a beverage. It means that company has its own peculiarity.

      1. I edit everything*

        There’s probably another manager somewhere who doesn’t like hiring applicants who *do* accept a beverage at the start of the interview.

      2. Ashley*

        Wow, I always thought a no thank you was more gracious then taking something you don’t want and wasting it. We all have our quirks and screening out for those can be just as helpful.

        1. KHB*

          This is the weirdest thing to me about “guess culture” (as opposed to “ask culture”) – that different variants of guess culture can actually have rules that are mutually contradictory.

          For the first few months when I worked in the UK, I’m sure I drove my coworkers nuts by failing to realize that when someone you’re working with offers you a cup of tea, it’s rude to refuse (because “would you like a cup of tea?” is code for “it’s time for us all to stop what we’re doing and take our tea break.”)

          But I’m told that in Japan (I think? I have no direct experience with this, so maybe somebody can confirm), if a coworker offers you lunch, it’s rude to accept (because “would you like to come over for lunch sometime?” is just part of the standard “nice to meet you” small-talk spiel and doesn’t mean that they really want you to come over for lunch).

          1. Nanani*

            I worked in Japan for many years. Rule of thumb – if there’s no specific date, it’s just politeness and you aren’t expected to actually come over. “Do you want to come to Specific Restaurant?” real – “Do you want to have a meal sometime?” Just being nice. Most of the time.

            However! There’s regional and generational variation in how many polite invitations it takes before the invitation should be taken seriously. Funny stories abound about people from X prefecture, where 2 polite refusals are the norm but invitation number 3 is real, accidentally making things very awkward in prefecture Y, where the norm is 3 refusals.

            1. KHB*

              Thanks! And also, oh my goodness. Call me crazy, but I’m so much more comfortable when people can just say what they mean and mean what they say.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think I worked with that woman! Or there are two of them.

        But yes, that captures it exactly — you can find people/companies with all sorts of weird beliefs/screening tests. That doesn’t mean you need to tailor yourself to those preferences in general.

      4. Nanani*

        Not to get “not everyone can have sandwiches” but I immediately see this excluding anyone with a health condition or dietary preference that leads them to monitor all food and drink carefully – not to mention religions that forbid certain items.
        It’s not unusual for people to only accept food/drink when they know exactly what’s in it, for very good reasons. Personal preferences are also just as valid a reason.
        And an interview is definitely NOT the place where people would want to explain that they can’t have (insert beverage here).

        How about accepting a gracious “no thank you”?

        1. ThatGirl*

          I will say that mostly I get offered coffee (sometimes tea?) or bottled water — I think *most* people under most circumstances could take a bottle of water without any major concerns. (I can think of one or two exceptions to that.) But that said, it still should not be a red flag not to accept it!

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Sadly, no. The bottled water called PureLife has stuff added to it that upsets my stomach. Basically calcium and baking soda. It’s on the label in tiny type under ingredients. Most people, including one of the medical offices I go to, aren’t aware of this and don’t know why they keep getting upset stomachs.

            Unfortunately other bottled waters followed this lead and now there are several with stuff added to upset our stomachs. I’ve learned if I want to be sure of having water I can drink I have to bring it myself.

            I actually did say yes to water at an interview and when the receptionist brought me this water I gave it back and she was offended. Sigh.

            I wish manufacturers would not mess with things like this, but they don’t care as long as it sells. :(

      5. TheCultureisStrong*

        I have found expressing a desire to work for a specific company to be helpful in every interview I’ve done. granted that’s not that much – 4 companies, in for different industries – but I have never not been offered a job I interviewed for.

        1. Lucky*

          On the other hand, I have never explicitly said “I want this job” in any interview and I have also never not been offered a job I interviewed for. For most employers, submitting an application is enough to declare that you want to job and saying it during the interview isn’t going to make a difference.

        2. pcake*

          On the other hand, I’ve never said anything that meant “I want this job” at any interview, and every interview I’ve done lead to a job offer, so maybe you’d have gotten all those job offers without saying anything about wanting the jobs.

          There’s really no way to know.

      6. Larina*

        At my previous job, we always offered a drink from our drink fridge or a snack from the snack shelf when we took them on a tour at the end. No one actually cared one way or another, but everyone on the team waited with baited breath to ask “did they take the drink?”

        It became a long running joke, and new team members would give us their reasoning on why they did or did not take a drink whenever someone came in to get interviewed.

    2. irene adler*

      Yeah, feedback I received – a couple of times – indicated that the interviewer passed on me because they were unsure as to whether I wanted the job. After discussing the job particulars, I had not directly indicated that I was interested in the position.
      So I make it a point -when it’s my turn to ask questions- to clarify that I am interested in the position and here’s how I meet the job description particulars and items discussed during the interview. Then I ask additional questions.

      I have found that when one inquires if there are any issues the interviewer has regarding hiring me, that generally causes the interviewer to become disinterested in me. So I stopped doing that.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        But what you are describing is just basic interview technique — during the conversation you show enthusiasm and engagement and talk about how your skill set matches the job. That’s a lot different from saying the magic words “I want this job” which, if someone said that to me in a canned way would be a real turn off.

        1. irene adler*

          Ooops! Guess I was not clear.
          I make the actual statement “I want this job.”
          Then I explain why.
          Otherwise, how will they know? And it’s been pointed out (via feedback) interviewers are not sure I am interested in the position after we’ve discussed it.

            1. BubbleTea*

              Also, they’ll find out for sure if you want the job once they’ve offered it to you, and told you the terms. If they’re not planning on doing that, then it sort of doesn’t really matter whether you told them you want it or not.

              I had a job interview (actually, I can think of two examples where this was the case) where I would have said, at the end of the interview, that I did want the job. And then when they called and offered me the job, and told me the hours and exact location and pay arrangements they were offering, I declined it. Until I had the full details of the offer, I couldn’t be certain whether I wanted it or not, and it turned out that in the end, I did not want it – either it was not based where I was told, or didn’t pay enough (in one case, there was a lot of travel between two job sites that wasn’t paid, and I felt that was not just sketchy but also not worth my time), or the hours were higher than advertised and I couldn’t swing them.

            2. irene adler*

              I know, huh.
              I’m here interviewing = I ‘m interested. Not a difficult concept- for most.

          1. Me*

            The unsure of interested may very well be that you are not coming across as interested or enthusiastic about the company/position. Body language, tone, asking questions etc.

            And if you aren’t coming across as interested, simply stating that you want the job isn’t going to change my mind that you aren’t interested. I’m apt to think you want A job as opposed to this specific job.

            “I feel like I’m a good fit/I’m interested in this position because” vs “I want this job” come across differently for better or worse.

            1. irene adler*

              Yeah. And I always ask questions- about the onboarding process, what differentiates the good from the great employee in this position, what qualities they are looking for in the new hire, how is the employee evaluated in this position, next steps in the hiring process, how the job will look in 4-5 years from now, expectations 6 or 12 months down the line, etc.
              Even with that, I’m told the interviewer did not know whether I was interested in the position.

              I am a low-key kind of person. I don’t get ruffled easily. I will never come across like I’m caffeine-amped up. Maybe I should try many cups of coffee prior to interviewing?

      2. TheCultureisStrong*

        My company wants people, who want to work here. We go to great lengths to ensure people are a culture fit. when I interviewed I outright stated, that I wanted this job.

    3. Cat Tree*

      Ok, but hopefully you can realize that either your field or specific company is the outlier here. This would definitely not work for any place I’ve ever worked.

    4. Smithy*

      To me this strikes me as a case where this is why networking in your sector matters. Because for my line of work, no one is expecting someone to say “I want this job”, but they are expecting to see the “show don’t tell” version of that.

      I work in nonprofit fundraising, and there are two reasons why versions of that matter. While the first is more obvious “alignment with the mission” – showing that you know what the organization does and that matches your interests. But for those of us not on the programming side, it is critical to show the interviewer that you want the technical job of fundraising. That you’re not someone just aligned with the mission and a desire to help out, but also that you want to be a fundraiser, or in IT, accounting, data entry, etc. And that you are jazzed for what that job actually is.

      While literally saying “I want this job” isn’t the way I’d frame the advice, but if someone found a way to naturally say in an interview “part of what drew me to this position, is that while the mission is so critical, at this time in my career I really want to be Major Gifts Officer”…..I can only see that helping.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’d argue that’s the right advice for every field, actually! And you’ll find it in lots of posts here. But it’s a different thing that what the LW is talking about, which is that there is advice floating around out there that you need to literally ask for the job or announce that you want it or you’ll somehow fail the test.

        1. Smithy*

          Whelp – that is wild.

          That being said, there are some “questions to ask while interviewing” that I’ve read verbatim from what you’ve posted here and I’ve seen in other places – and they’ve helped me kick off the q&a portion. And one from you that has gotten me a lot of “wow, great question”.

          I certainly understand the desire to have scripts and lines you can just read while interviewing that will somehow help you out. But this one just seems so awkward, but good to know what’s floating around out there should I ever hear it!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with having prepared questions — that’s definitely not the issue. It makes sense to have notes on what questions you want to ask. Instead, it’s what you say in your last paragraph, that this particular one will strike many interviewers as awkward and unnecessary.

        2. TheCultureisStrong*

          Maybe I am in the unique position, where every company I have interviewed with has a strong, stated culture, and expressing a strong desire to have not just any job, but that specific job working for that specific company, has been a very successful strategy.

            1. ThatGirl*

              What? No. I think there are a lot of companies where expressing genuine enthusiasm for that specific company helps a lot. It certainly helped me get the job at my last company.

            2. TheCultureisStrong*

              oh trust me, it feels that way alot of the time. But it’s a great cult that believes in work-life balance, has strong controls in place to prevent assholes and bad managers and rewards its employees with above market salaries and profit sharing.

              1. Lucky*

                “work-life balance, has strong controls in place to prevent assholes and bad managers and rewards its employees with above market salaries and profit sharing.”

                That’s great, but none of this has anything to do with saying “I want this job” during the interview. Plenty of employers offer these sorts of things without expecting job candidates to play little guessing games about the right thing to say to get the job.

          1. NancyDrew*

            Same here! But I also seek out companies that have a strong culture that I believe in wholly. So that helps. (I also only interview at places where I really want to work.)

        3. tamarack and fireweed*

          Too often I see people in the advice-giving field turn very good guidelines (like what Smithy describes) into over-simplified bullet points, abstracted from the context that makes them make sense. And that’s when we cringe.

    5. Tuesday*

      It doesn’t really sound like you’re disagreeing though — “You will find interviewers out there who say they want to hear a candidate declare that they want the job…..”

  13. WantonSeedStitch*

    Yeah, definitely not something I need to hear. I assume you want the job unless your behavior tells me otherwise. I will, in fact, ask you what it is about the job that interests you, because I assume that it does. It’s usually a good way for me to see if you actually understand what the job will entail or if I have to explain it better than the HR posting did.
    That said, if the latter seems to be true, I might say something like, “Ah, so you were interested in this job because you have always liked llamas and would love a job grooming them. This role involves some llama grooming, but it’s really more highly focused on herding alpacas.” And then I’ll gauge your reaction to that, and to subsequent questions. If my questions about your experiences with herding animals are met with lack of experience or enthusiasm (or more talk about grooming), I will probably get the impression that you don’t really want the actual job.

  14. beanie gee*

    Someone I interviewed Friday handled this really well – at the end of the interview, they described things they heard that resonated with them about the position and company and why they were (still) interested in the position. I thought it was a nice way of saying “based on this interview, I’m still interested in this position and your company.”

    1. Smithy*

      Like so many human interactions and suggested scripts, I can certainly see this one being clunky. Starting off your introductions with “Nice to meet you and thank you for the opportunity to interview, I really want this job” certainly sounds awkward. However, I can also see this being done in a very personalized way and with a lot of sophistication.

      When I last interviewed, at times there were a lot more push factors from my old job than pull factors where I was interviewing. So when I’d get questions on “what appeals to you about Organization/Job”, there was that impulsive part of my jerk brain screaming “My Current Job Kinda Sucks, and This Seems Like a Solid Next Step.”

  15. I edit everything*

    I would imagine wrapping up an interview with a genuine, “I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, and I hope we cross paths again,” or something equally positive and forward-looking would communicate that yes, you’d like to move along in the process, without having the desperation tinge of “I want this job.” But it should flow naturally from the interview and not be a forced, rehearsed thing.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      To me, ‘I hope we cross paths again’ sounds like the person isn’t expecting *this* process to move forward, but might be interested in other opportunities in the company.
      I don’t mean to nitpick–it just struck me as one of those things where many phrases will hit different people in different ways. Language is funny!

    2. TWW*

      Here’s the problem with saying thing indirectly: If I heard someone say, “I hope we cross paths again,” I would take that to mean that they expect many years to go by before seeing me again.

      In that exact context–wrapping up the interview–I don’t see anything wrong with saying, “I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, and I hope to receive and offer for this position,” or something unambiguous like that.

      1. NextSteps*

        I’m not sure I would say “I hope to receive an offer” but maybe I’m just not that forward. I don’t think it would hurt to replace that with “I look forward to learning more about the position/discussing the position further” if it’s early on and there are more steps, or “I look forward to discussing a future with the company” if you think an offer is the next step. I definitely agree with not using “I hope we cross paths again” unless you’ve been rejected.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        Well maybe “I hope we’ll have a chance to continue this conversation in the near future” or whatever feels like right for the vibe of the interview.

  16. Nanani*

    Sounds like a dash of magical thinking in the gumption stew.
    There’s no magic phrase that will get you the job. Job interviews aren’t video game encounters – you’re not there to pick the correct dialogue option and win a prize.

  17. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

    I’m trying to think how I would react to this as a hiring manager, and I think I would try to use it as an opening to learn more about what the candidate’s interests are (and maybe, less directly, their understanding of the job). “That’s exciting to hear — can you tell me more about why you want the job?” I agree it’s a little bit odd but I don’t think I’d discount the candidate for it unless there were other weird or pushy behaviors going on.

    1. Esmeralda*

      I’ve had candidates say some version of “I really want this job” or “This position sounds great! I’d love to be offered the job!” I just say some version of “Thanks! Our next steps are…. and we’ll be in touch in the near future/after we finish meeting the other candidates/next month [academia, ugh, I can’t even…] if we want to proceed with your candidacy.”

      I do always go over the next steps at the end of the interview, so this is a way to acknowledge them, reiterate the schedule and process, and gently remind them that this was an interview not a promise.

  18. goducks*

    After I was hired at my current job the CEO who hired me told me that although I was the right candidate for the job, he almost didn’t offer it to me because I didn’t ask for the job in the first interview. I invested 8 total hours on 4 separate days interviewing for this job, and he almost didn’t hire me because of some BS idea he had in his mind that candidates need to ask for the job or else they aren’t really interested. Thankfully others who had interviewed me intervened. That was the first red flag with this guy. I’m happy to say he’s since been removed from his role and is not my headache anymore. But yeah, this is such bad advice and can be such a weird trap.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        “The fact that I showed up to the interview is my asking for the interview job.”


        1. goducks*

          And the second interview… and the third… and the fourth… and that I stayed engaged through the entire process, and did many things that showed I was interested. Yet, it almost came down to not asking in so many words for the job. People play stupid games.

          1. starsaphire*

            …and sent that thank-you letter that says, “I’m looking forward to hearing back from you,” and said over the handshake, “I’m really excited about this opportunity,” and…

            …yeah. We imply “I want this job” in so many ways already.

            I’m so glad it worked out for you!

        2. Esmeralda*

          But showing up to the interview isn’t asking for the job. Your first statement was correct. I’ve gone to interviews where I thought I wanted the job. Then I did the interview and realized I didn’t. Or that I needed more information.

          Getting an interview does not equal “I want this job for sure” any more than Inviting someone to be interviewed equals “we want to hire you for sure.”

          1. NancyDrew*


            We see it laid out here all the time: an interview is for both sides to see if this role is a good fit.

            Interviewing is NOT me saying “I want this job,” it’s me exploring whether I do.

            Wild to see folks disagreeing with that, when it’s basically a core belief of this site!

          2. goducks*

            Sure, but nobody *really* knows whether they want a job until after all the interviews AND they see the offer. One can provisionally want a job all through the process, but if the offer’s bad, they no longer want it. I think being engaged in the process is absolutely signaling interest from the candidate. They don’t need to vocalize that interest if they’re conveying interest through dozens of other cues, both large and small.

  19. Clisby*

    Years ago, when I worked in journalism, I was asked to take part in an interview panel (I was not a manager, much less a hiring manager.) We were interviewing a young woman who had not even applied – the editors were familiar with her work and recruited her to come in for an interview. Priceless exchange:

    Editor: So … why do you want this job?
    She: You recruited me. I’m here to find out whether I want this job.

    I sternly repressed my desire to burst into applause. She didn’t get an offer. I have no idea whether she’d have taken it if she got it.

      1. Clisby*

        They felt kind of insulted, but I pointed out that they HAD initiated the interview. She had a job, was not currently looking for a job, and had not applied for the job. She got a call out of the blue asking if she’d like to interview, and she said sure. (Why not? I’ve interviewed for jobs I wasn’t sure I wanted; it’s good practice.) To be fair, given LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and the internet in general, it’s easier today to get a better idea of whether you’re *really* interested.

    1. Nanani*

      I’ve had encounters along these lines with clients. I’m freelance, but some of my clients are companies who have both contracts with freelancers and an in-house team doing similar work.

      “Why do you want to work for us?”
      – I don’t, you contacted me about a project. I emailed you my rates on (date), did you get a chance to look at them?

      What can you do but shrug

    2. Cat Tree*

      It’s a wonderful thing when your career transitions from searching for jobs to being recruited while already at a good job. I still don’t think I’d say something that bold, but I would be tempted. When I’m recruited the recruiter provides a job description so I can decide if I even want to go on the interview. So I would probably answer that question based on the reasons I agreed to the interview rather than turn it down outright.

    3. Qwerty*

      I did something similar once! I got invited to a networking event that turned out to a be a hiring event (third-party event promoter did some false advertising). So every time I sat down to talk to someone, it was an interviewer from the company hosting event and they all opened with a variation of “So why do you want at Teapot Tech?” and I always responded that I wasn’t interested. They did end up giving me an offer though.

  20. Hazel*

    I really appreciate Alison’s advice! Ever since I started reading AAM, I’ve been able to have collegial conversations with interviewers. It’s made it possible for me to ask about culture and job requirements and everything else I want to know about to make my decision. I usually imagine that I’m a consultant who is there to help the business succeed (which, of course, is what I would be doing if they hired me!). I used to think I had to impress interviewers, and in trying to be “professional” or “businesslike,” I was not at all enthusiastic, and I’m sure I came across as very stiff. What a relief to learn a better, more effective (and pleasant for me!) way to do interviews!

    1. Hazel*

      I forgot to add that I used phrases that sounded enthusiastic (like “I’m very interested in this position!”), but I’m sure it sounded odd after doing a nervous, very-serious-at-all-times interview up until that point.

    2. ApplePie*

      I feel the same way, Hazel. Anything overly declarative (including “I want this job!”) seems odd now.

  21. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I think I would only apply this advice if it were a position I really wanted the job, the interview had gone poorly, and I thought I could do better on a follow-up interview if kept in the running.

    That said, there are better ways to express that…

  22. TootsNYC*

    The place I would want to hear, “Definitely, I would like this job,” is in the follow-up letter.
    Some people call it a thank-you note, but it’s not–it’s a follow-up.

    That’s why I don’t think it’s good to send the thank-you on the same day. It may be too soon for you to know.
    In that follow-up communications, I want to hear that I should put you on my list of serious candidates. If you don’t say something to that effect, I will still put you on my list, but it’s good to know you’ve thought about it. And it could genuinely swing a decision. Or…maybe cement one that I’m already leaning toward.
    I’ve been in a situation in which the decision was so close that someone got the job because their materials had gotten lost in the mail, and they’d kept a copy. So if all else is even, the person who says, “I would love to work somewhere with [characteristic here] that your organization/department has.” or “I would really relish the greater authority that this position has,” might have a leg up.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Yup, totally agree. If I was going to say something (as a candidate), it would be in a follow-up note, after I’ve had a chance to reflect on what I’ve learned in the interview process. I don’t know that it’s swayed the process either way, but saying “I want this job” is not something I could authentically say immediately after an interview.

      I have also used follow-up notes to drop out of the process as well.

    2. Nanani*

      Plus, if you’re comparing this interview to other potential jobs, it’s entirely reasonable to not only NOT mention the other interviews, and to want to be able to compare offer details.
      “I have an interview with your competitor tomorrrow” doesn’t sound like the sort of thing you’d share.

  23. a clockwork lemon*

    It’s interesting, because I was always taught that the whole point of the “I want the job” statement was not to use the exact phrase, but essentially as guidepost language to remind you of what you want to convey at the end of an interview or thank-you note: “Based on X, Y, and Z I think I’d be a great fit for this position and I’d love the opportunity to work with you.”

    I never thought it was supposed to be a sales pitch, it’s a statement of intent to signal that you’d like to move forward in the interview process, in much the same way that it would be weird to outright say to someone “actually, I don’t want this job” after an interview where you’re going to bow out of consideration.

  24. RedinSC*

    IDK if this is the right way to go about this, but we flat out ask people why this job at our organization. We’re a mission driven non profit and if people really aren’t excited about that then this isn’t really the work for you. We pay well, but we also want people who are passionate about the work.

  25. Come On Eileen*

    I followed this advice once and tried “asking for the job” at the end of an interview, and it just felt soooo awkward and unnatural. It was recommended by a boss who I really admired, so I figured what the hell? Nah, not for me. I’m pretty confident that I can convey my enthusiasm for a position during an interview in other ways.

  26. Heidi*

    So is “I want this job” supposed to be the first thing you say, or is it supposed to be something like a closing statement? Or are you supposed to weave it into the interview somehow in a subliminal messaging kind of way, like, “One of the reasons I want this job is because….”?

  27. DC Cliche*

    We ask a version of “what drew you to this role” or “what experiences do you have that uniquely position you for this role” and you can tell pretty quickly who wants this job vs. wants a job.

    It’s not perfect — I nearly passed on a candidate who said “I just really want to get back into the nonprofit field” and she’s great — but it gives you a sense of their genuine interest.

    1. 1234*

      I would’ve followed up with “What specifically about THIS non-profit drew you in?”

      I’m glad this hire worked out but I would’ve also been skeptical of a candidate who applied because they just want to get back into non-profit. To me, it comes across as “I guess any non profit that hires me, I’ll go for it” vs “My experience in non-profit and whatever else I did after that makes me a strong asset in XYZ”

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      “What drew you to apply for this particular position?” is one of my first softballs/ice breakers at the start of an interview because it seems to be one that most people seem to be able answer easily and comfortably. It can tell you a lot, too – people who actually read the job description tend to have an answer ready to go about how they did X and Y requirements and really want to learn more about it/do it full-time.

  28. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    I once got hired because I followed up my online application with a paper copy and began the cover letter saying “This is my dream job.” It didn’t turn out to be a dream job, though it was fun for a while and got me out of a rough situation (alcoholic boss who was rapidly torpedoing the company and who had once grabbed my boob in a drunken episode).

  29. sometimeswhy*

    I don’t need to hear a candidate say, “I want this job,” and would find it off-putting but I do need them to demonstrate it. I get so many interviewees who end up showing me that they’ve written fanfiction in their heads about what working here entails and want to work HERE but do a whole other set of job functions (usually continue their academic research; we are not a university or a research institution) and don’t seem to realize that’s not how it works.

  30. Leah K.*

    As a hiring manager, “I want this job” doesn’t really tell me anything useful about the candidate. I am presuming that you are at least interested in this job because you are continuing to go through the interview/hiring process and have not self-selected out. I am assuming that when you stop being interested in this job based on what you hear about the job itself, the work environment, or the comp/benefits, you will tell me so. The fact that you are interested in this job doesn’t tell me why you would be a good match for this position or why you are more qualified for it than other candidates.
    In fact, I found it a bit off-putting when a candidate included a long paragraph in his cover letter about why he wanted this job and how it would fit his career goals, but didn’t say anything about how HE would be a good fit for this position.

  31. Tess*

    Beware the ol’ shrug followed by “I want your job,” as said by the interviewee to the interviewer or committee in response to “Why did you apply for the role?”, is still around.

    I mean…no. Just…no.

  32. Esmeralda*

    I do think it’s important to make clear that you’re interested — and just applying for the job or going to the interview does not convey that. It’s an INTERview — maybe what you learn during the interview means you’re not very interested anymore. Particularly if you are a more buttoned-up, less demonstrative, or shy person — you may think you’ve conveyed interest and enthusiasm, but it wasn’t interpreted that way.

    I have serious RBF, which I try to control during an interview, but if I’m listening intently, I’m gonna be some degree of RBF –so I have to be sure that the interviewer knows that I’m interested and excited. At the end of the interview, when I’m saying thank you, shaking hands, I say something like, “I really look forward to hearing from you” or “I look forward to moving on to the next step”.

    In addition, I express my interest when I send the thank you email.

  33. dustycrown*

    I’ve worked for several bosses who wouldn’t hire someone for a sales job unless they ASKED for the job. The assumption (right or wrong) was that if you couldn’t ask for the job, you couldn’t ask for the sale.

  34. Prague*

    If you, like me, struggle to show enthusiasm because you get deeply intense and serious when you get into something, don’t forget you can drop that info into an interview too. Because it’s just enthusiasm manifesting in a different way.

    I think I got this advice from another commenter in this site, so whomever you were, thank you!

  35. Bookworm*

    Thank you for writing this letter, OP. I’ve never outright said I wanted a job or asked for the job, but I HAVE been told that I didn’t show enough enthusiasm (or some variation) for the position which has always baffled me as to how to do that without coming across as creepy or “too much.” So your question and Alison’s answer gave me some food for thought. Thanks!!

  36. ElleKay*

    However you should have an answer for “*Why* do you want this job?”
    This de facto shows that you do want it but also tells the interviewer that you’ve done your background research, have thought about the position, and might show them which aspect(s) you’re focused on

  37. lil falafel wrap*

    One thing I’ve done that usually gets good reception is in the “tell me what you know about this company/job” piece that comes up in some interviews is say something along the lines of “One thing/some things I really like about this company/role are…” and then tie that to whatever in your experience/interests had made you interested in those aspects of the position. It shows you’ve done your research, are invested in the company mission, and have work history that lends itself to those aspects of the company. I work in the nonprofit world, so showing interest in their overall mission and the way they work to achieve that mission is important.

  38. EverAwkward*

    This kind of reminds me of when I did an interview for a job I wanted so, so hard that I was on my best behaviour right up until the very end when we were saying our farewells on the video call and I decided to end with ‘I’ll keep my fingers, toes and eyes crossed to hear good news’ and promptly crossed my eyes and looked into the camera… I then clicked ‘leave’ so that was their very last view of me… //facepalm// mortifying as it was, at least they saw the real me which they must have liked because I got the job!

    I suspect this is an unusual approach to really showing that you want the job and not for the faint hearted!

  39. always in email jail*

    When I’m trying to fill a position, I think someone telegraphs they want the job if they:
    -Write a cover letter specific to the position
    -Do some basic research on the organization/programmatic requirements beforehand
    -Often times, I can tell with how they close the interview, I think something along the lines of “This position sounds like it would be really exciting! Please let me know if you need anymore information from me as you make your decision, I’m happy to provide it!” is fine and not over the top.

  40. Patrick*

    This type of thing is part of all that outdated, boomer-type advice about job hunting. Like randomly knocking on doors with your resume and “not leaving until they give you an interview” or sending handwritten thank you notes. Most people don’t care about this stuff anymore and you wouldn’t want to work for those that still do.

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