Tough Interview Question - Why did you choose this career?

Why did you choose this career?

Similar interview questions:
Why did you decide to become a _____?
What factors influenced you to choose this career path?
Why do you want to become a _____?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is seeking to understand your underlying motivations for selecting this career. It is also a good question for the interviewer to learn how much planning and thought actually went into your career selection. Are you there by random acts and/or chance? Or is this part of a well-designed plan? For most candidates, it is somewhere in between, but the interviewer will likely drive into the details that you provide, so don't try to bluff your way through this answer (or any interview answer).

The best approach to answering this question:
Spend time considering this question before the interview. This is one of the questions that often catches a candidate without a solid answer. You need to think about all of the factors which influenced your decision in advance. That doesn't mean you have to include them all. Be selective. Include the positive influences, not the negative ones. If you did advanced research and planning, this provides the solid foundation. If there was an individual (or individuals) who influenced your career selection, that provides a personal side to the story. Keep it positive.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"I committed myself as an Accounting major my Freshman year of college. I spent my energies in college preparing myself to become a world-class accountant. But it wasn't until my internship after my Junior year that I began to develop my interest in tax accounting. I was assigned a mentor that summer who continued to stay with me as my mentor after I graduated and helped me understand the field better and map out my career plans…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"There were many influences that went into my decision to select this career field. One of my early mentors was a business friend of my mother, who worked in the insurance industry and encouraged me to explore opportunities in this field. She pointed me in the right direction to explore the possibilities. But it was the combination of my career research along with my professors in my major who helped to solidify my decision. My internship last summer helped me to get an inside view into the world of work in this field…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Well, I took a class with a professor I really liked, he made the class so fun that I thought this might be a really interesting way to make a living. I didn't really connect the dots between the major and potential career until late in my Senior year. Although I love Chemistry, I wasn't really interested in working for a company in the chemical field. So I had to look around to see what else I could do with my degree. I guess I really just fell into this career field because it was the only thing out there available at the time for someone with my degree. I didn't really plan it that way."

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these 100 Common Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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