Most of us work to earn money. We need money to live, and there’s nothing wrong about wanting to earn a decent wage that will allow for a decent lifestyle. Or a six figure salary, if we spent a small fortune for our university studies.

The story does not end with money though. In order to find some satisfaction in our job, and to stay long with the employer (which is something each employer hopes for when hiring new employees), the job has to offer us more than money. And these are exactly the most important things they inquire about in an interview.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this question. Below the answers you will find some additional tips and explanations to help you choose or formulate the best possible answer for your interview.


Sample answers to “What are the things you look for in an ideal job?” interview question

  1. More than anything else I look for a meaningful purpose. I do not want to spend my life chasing money, or material possessions, working long hours each month only to buy this or that flashy object. I want to feel that my job actually makes a difference in someone’s life. It’s one of the reasons why I decided for social work.
  2. The most important thing for me in a job is feeling challenged intellectually, and getting an opportunity to realize my creativity. I love to create something from nothing. Working in a marketing agency should allow for a good level of self realization, and I am sure I’ll have an option to put my creative ideas into practice here, designing some great campaigns along the way.
  3. At the stage of my professional career I am looking forward to learn. I am just starting in the field of finance and accounting, and school certainly cannot prepare us for the real challenges of the job. Now I do not have on my mind only difficult accounting problems or financial analysis, but also situations such as dealing with pressure, prioritizing work, meeting a deadline, having a conflict with a colleague. There’s a lot to learn at the moment, and a big international corporation like this one is, in my opinion, an ideal place for fresh university graduates.
  4. To be honest, more than anything else I look forward to simply start working again. I’ve been unemployed for many months now, but I am not a lazy person. Spending days in bed watching TV series is not something that interests me. Definitely not in a long run. I want to be a part of something, I want to put my muscles to work, to have some active daily routine. That’s the thing I am looking forward to the most in a job right now.
  5. Ideal job is one in which I can grow both as a professional and as a human being. It is one in which I have good relationship with my colleagues. A place where people respect each other and help each other grow. I know that I expect a lot, but I want to play an active role in the entire process. Being attentive to the needs and feelings of my colleagues, being receptive to constructive criticism, trying to offer my help anytime someone needs a helping hand in the office–these are just some of the things that I can bring to my colleagues.
  6. An ideal job for me is the one that offers a good work-life balance. I have two kids, and I want to spend afternoons and evenings at home, playing with them, seeing them grow. That’s the reason why I applied for this job with you, though I may look overqualified for this type of work. In fact I am looking for simplicity and regular working hours. Starting at seven and leaving at 3:30 is an ideal schedule for me. A corporate role would never allow for such a luxury…
  7. More than anything else I am looking for something I will enjoy doing. Everything else is secondary really. Speaking honestly, that aren’t that many things I enjoy doing. I tried some jobs but it didn’t work out. Athletics, however, is my passion. Having an ability to train young athletes will be a dream come true. Of course I know that it won’t be an easy job, and we’ll have to deal with many challenges. But everything is easier when you enjoy the things you are doing.


Talk about things which you can realistically find in your new employment

Talking about great collective and support of your colleagues will make a little sense if you apply for a job of a programmer, or of a lighthouse keeper :). And to rave about a meaningful purpose and your desire to change the world in an interview for an assembly line worker won’t make much sense either.

Do not take me wrong though. There’s nothing wrong about the job of an assembly line worker or of a lighthouse keeper. They have their pluses and can represent a great job choice for many people. But when you interview for a job, your answers should make sense.

Think for a minute or two about the things your new job will bring to your life. Maybe you apply only because you need money, and this is a temporarily solution for you. That’s fine as well, but you should still find in the job at least something you look forward to, something you can use in your answer to this interview question.

* Special Tip: This isn’t the only difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!


Show your willingness to help “creating an ideal job”

The world does not turn around us, and you can not expect your new colleagues to try and make everything ideal for you. You will also have to play your role in the process. Dreaming of great relationship with your colleagues is one thing, and contributing to such relationship another.

Ensure the interviewers that you plan to do your best to help create a great working environment for everyone–including you. They will love you for such an attitude.


Talking about a future job as your ideal job

A specific situation happens when you apply for a certain job now, in order to be eligible to apply for some other job in the future–your dream, or ideal job.

In such a case it is all right to talk about things the present job (the one for which you apply now) can’t offer to you. Just explain the interviewers that you see the role with them as a part of your career journey, something you cannot skip, basically a mean to end end–to the role you eventually want to have, once you gain experience.

Even in this case, however, you should find something positive about your new job, something that you are looking forward to. Because real happiness is always in the NOW and in the WAY, and not in trying to achieve something far in the future…

Check also answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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