“What makes you interested in applying for this position?”

This is a toxic question, but a one that comes up frequently and you have to be prepared to give an answer.

To be sure, this is a tricky aspect of recruiting. You, the candidate, should not be looking for a job. You should not be applying for a top position. The jobs should come to you. Google, Facebook and a number of other companies look at engineers’ presence on LinkedIn and so forth, and reach out to the ones that have been at their job for a year or more. Google reaches out to you when they think you could leave your employer, and after you have already vetted yourself with that employed. Google/Facebook aren’t looking for unemployed folks to hire them. If you are looking for a job, perhaps you are unemployed and that’s a red flag for Google/Facebook. So when they ask you, why are you looking for a job? You really, really should not be looking for one.

If they reached out to you, and ask the same question – the question then is, “what makes you interested in working here?” but it’s a different question. You can easily say, you’re interested in working there because you want to make an impact, or because you like companies that drive innovation, or you like the tech – you can say any of a number of true things. But if they reached out to you and ask, why did you reach out to them? Tt’s a red flag, so please thread lightly, for your own safety. Not every recruiter is a good one, and being under constant scrutiny is emotionally exhausting, so save your energy. Remember: you aren’t applying for a job. You are open to opportunities, and they have to demonstrate good process to you when recruiting.

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I’d like to add also that recruiters come from a number of backgrounds. There is a particular breed of recruiters who come from Workbridge, Jobspring and the like. They are 3rd-party multi-client shops. An in-house recruiter with such background (you can see on their linkedin) can ask you questions like, what technology stack are you looking for? What is your ideal opportunity? So, if this is a role you’re actually interested in, you should have already figured out the tech stack before talking with a recruiter. There is no good answer here! If you say a tech stack that doesn’t exactly align with theirs, it’s a problem. If the recruiter doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it might be a problem. For me, the fact that they ask is a red flag. They can tell me what their stack is, or they can ask me about my history and background. But if they are in-house and ask me what stack I am “looking for” – it’s a red flag on that recruiter. As I mentioned you should not be “looking for” anything, and at that point you really cannot decide the direction the company is going, you can’t change their stack. Just something to consider with this particular question.

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