When did you decide on this career?
Similar interview questions:
How long have you wanted to be a _____?
Have you always planned to be a _____?
What did you originally want to be when you grew up?
Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is trying to determine your level of commitment to your chosen career. Anyone who cannot answer this question within a definitive timeframe will show that they are in the career with little or no planning. Those who did not plan to enter a career typically are less stable over the long-term in their commitment to that career.
The best approach to answering this question:
Start with your earliest interest in the career and work forward through time, showing what you have done to prepare yourself for this career. Whenever possible, talk about research and/or fit with your personality, interests, aptitudes and/or values.
An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"I was a Business major my freshman year in college, but declared as an Accounting major my Sophomore year. I had two different internships in college and one of them was in tax accounting. I found I was not only interested in the tax side of accounting, but I had a strong aptitude for the work. I have continued to build upon that foundation throughout my career."
An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"I had a broad interest in the legal field when I was in high school and it was among several different career options that I was considering. But I entered college with my major undeclared so that I could take a broad overview of courses in my Freshman year. It was during that time that I met a Partner in your firm. She encouraged me to consider the legal field and had me speak with several other attorneys, both at your firm and at other firms. After doing more in-depth research into the field, I declared my major as Pre-Law my sophomore year and spent my college career and now in Law School preparing me to enter the legal field. I have a real aptitude for legal work as evidenced by my class standing in the top 5% of my graduating class."
An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Well, I guess since I saw your job posting! It was a really interesting job posting, did you write it? Well, anyway, I started looking into career options in this field and decided that this is something that I would really enjoy. And I read that those who are successful can make six figures, so I'm all over that one!"
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 Fifty Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!