What do you do? What do you want? Why are you here?
These three questions probably cover the majority of what is asked on
any job application or in any job interview. The questions may not
always sound quite like this, but essentially, what someone wants to
know is what skills you have to add, what you are looking to do with
those skills, and why you and your skills would fit well with the place
in question. When we prepare for an application or interview, we want to
answer these just the right way, which seems simple, right? Aren't they
pretty simple questions?
It turns out that these are not actually so simple, in job searching or in life...
What do you do? Well, are you talking about your specific job
competencies, or are you talking about the myriad other skills you employ
every day to make sure people get where they need to be, to keep
self-esteem (yours and others') high, and to get the tasks of life
accomplished? And are you talking about all the things you've ever done,
or just the ones that you like, or those that are relevant now? Not so
What do you want? On the one hand, we answer this question every day. We
order lunch, we choose fruits and vegetables, we decide what to watch
on television. But do we consider each day what we really want when the day
is done? And when we are looking for a job, can what we want include not
just what we're looking to do, but how that job should fit into our
lives, how it affects our kids and our bank account, and how it
should make us feel at the end of the day, the week, the year?
Why are you here? We are in a lot of places for a lot of
reasons each day--how hard could it be to say why we are anywhere? We
go to the laundry room to do laundry, we go to an out of the way grocery
store to get a treat we like and can only get there. We choose to go
places because they help us accomplish what we need to accomplish. So in
a job situation, if we simply say that "here" fits what we need and
what we can do, shouldn't that be enough?
It turns out that, as simple, yet not, as these questions may be in
everyday life, they are even more complex when looking for a job. We must try to answer the hard questions for ourselves--after all, what we want is
about more than just a title and a paycheck. We must also make our answers
logical for someone else, and that can make the hard questions
There's not a lot of time in a day to ask--and answer--the hard
questions all of the time. Sometimes it's challenging enough just to get
through the easy ones. But when we can face the hard ones, we actually
learn a little something about ourselves. And ultimately, this leaves
us far more qualified to answer the hard questions on any application
and in any interview.