Why Did You Choose This Industry?

By Paula AlagnaMP900382652

To Peter Methot, this is an odd interview question and one that he has never personally asked any applicant. But, the question may not be as farfetched as it seems and could have some merit to it by helping an Interviewer determine whether a candidate is a natural fit for the position.

There are two potential reasons an Interviewer would ask such a question of job applicants: one, to determine whether they entered into their profession because they are passionate about their chosen field, or, two, because they are practical, according to Methot, Director of Marketing and Program Development at Rutgers Center for Management Development.

And passion and practicality seem to be two sides of the same coin for Methot.

“Generally speaking, (Human Resources) HR and Hiring Managers have the primary goal of selecting candidates who will be good performers. A secondary goal is to save the company money. From a hiring standpoint, HR managers ask reliable and valid interview questions to most accurately predict who will perform well on the job,” he said.

Individuals who have a practical outlook on their profession, i.e., have been successful in the past, (and) remain in their profession because it’s what they’ve done for an extended period of time, can make a decent living and, very often, can be exceptional performers, Methot continued.

However, determining whether someone truly enjoys his or her work or is “passionate” about it can be a critical determining factor in the retention rate of the talent acquisition, he added.

So, is this an appropriate question to ask during a job interview?

The aim of the question is to uncover the applicant’s passion and practicality; because his or her practicality translates to good task performance and his or her passion translates to good retention. Taken together, practicality and passion jointly give the impression of potentially being a good performer, as well as someone who will be satisfied, motivated, and committed to remain in the organization, Peter said.

If candidates lack passion, to accompany their practicality, then they are at risk for pre-mature turnover; in other words, they may be a retention risk. Employee turnover costs companies a substantial amount of money. So, if it is a goal to be cost-efficient, then, individuals who lack passion for the profession may not be considered the best candidates in the long term, Methot continued. And then there’s job satisfaction – which “can translate into both motivation on the job and longer tenure,” he added.

So, what is the best way to answer this interview question if it’s asked?

The interviewee should “respond honestly and truthfully,” says Methot.  It is helpful to know what the possible employer’s perspective, or interest, is in asking a particular question so that interviewees can be careful in both their words and tone to most adequately appeal to the Interviewer’s bias. Listening to key words, or phrases, about the company culture and career trajectory so you can shape your response to align appropriately, he said.

Peter added that he personally does not find this question particularly valuable when he is interviewing job candidates, but, admits that that does not mean the question itself is not a valuable exercise in thinking through the possible questions and appropriate responses that could arise in an interview.

“Remember, the key is to be interviewing for jobs that are a natural fit. Where a person can respond to questions honestly and feel that it is just a matter of the Interviewer getting to know the candidate and his or her fit for the job. If it is the right fit for both parties, then it is just a matter of bringing that reality to the surface,” he explained.

“A good way to think about it is from Selling 101. Because, at the end of the day, that is precisely what an interviewee is doing – selling (his or her) fit for the job,” he continued.

Often times, people go into an interview, sit on opposite sides of the table, and the interviewee is trying to hard sell himself or herself into the position. Whereas, often, the best approach is to be on the same side of the table doing the “consultative” sell; where it is simply about getting them to see that you are the solution to their problem, that the company will be in a better place with the services that you provide, Peter said.

So, in conclusion, asking a job applicant “Why did you choose this industry?” is just another way of asking three questions simultaneously: “Why are you passionate about working here?”; “If we hire you, will you be able to save the company money? and “Can you prove you have the ability to do this job according to the needs of our company?”

Peter Methot is an entrepreneur with expertise in the areas of strategic business development, human capital management, and project management.  He has the ability to play multiple roles with broad range of analytical and creative skills. He is a proven producer of sales and profit with ability to identify business opportunities, as well as to plan, develop, and execute effective business strategies under challenging market conditions.

If you require Peter’s services you send an email message to: peter.methot@cmd.rutgers.edu.

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