Why?

Whenever I help college students with their job interviewing skills, one of the most challenging moments for them is when I ask the following question: “Why?”

If a student tells me her favorite subject is biology, the first thing I ask her is why. Or if she tells me that volleyball is her favorite sport and that modern dance is her favorite extra-curricular activity, I’ll always ask why.

And why do I ask “why?”  Because it’s a hard question to answer. You might instinctively know why you’ve chosen to do something or why you like something, but when it comes to articulating your answers out loud you stumble.

Some “why?” questions are easy to answer. “Why am I wearing a raincoat? Because it’s raining.”  Or, “Why am I going to the gas station? Because my gas tank is almost empty.” Those answers don’t need to be rehearsed because they’re so patently obvious.

But what about the subtleties or complexities involved in describing why you like something or why you are angry about something or why a manager’s behavior annoyed you? Or how good are you at explaining why you’ve chosen a particular career or a particular major in college?

And how good are you at explaining why you want the job?

You need to be able to answer “why?” questions seamlessly and eloquently. Why? Because the reasoning, integrity and confident delivery of your answers will speak volumes about how you will add value to any group or organization.

Don’t stumble unnecessarily in your interviews. Anticipate that you’ll be asked plenty of “why?” questions, so write out your answers beforehand and practice answering them out loud. Do this again and again. Why? Because it works.