The question of what element of your job you find most satisfying might seem less innocuous than other interview questions, but your answer reveals a lot about you as an employee. It shows what you value and what you believe is important in your career. If your answer doesn't tell the manager he needs someone like you, or if your satisfactions are misplaced, you're putting yourself on the fast track towards unemployment.
Discuss the Position You're Interviewing for
Angle your answer toward the position you're after. If you talk about an element of a job you greatly enjoy, but that element doesn't apply to the position you're interviewing for, your answer sounds weak and out of place. For instance, suppose you're vying for a position as a software engineer. You've mostly held customer service-related jobs throughout your career. Highlighting the satisfaction you get from helping customers find a solution to their problems doesn't apply to a software engineering position. It's akin to explaining your management strengths when you're applying for a non-managerial position. This might sound like common sense, but if you've worked in a different field most of your life, it's natural to draw from that experience without giving it a second thought. In addition to making sure your answer is appropriate for the job in question, focus on the company's needs and what it values.
You've probably come across advice that suggests showing the type of employee you are during an interview – and that advice is spot-on. Talk about satisfying situations and elements at work that give the interviewer insight into your personality, your work ethic and what makes you tick. For instance, suppose you're a candidate for a management position. Touching on how much you enjoy working with your employees to help them identify how they could perform even better and seeing the subsequent results shows you're employee-oriented and want them to grow.
As with answering most interview questions, you want to keep your answer brief, but don't talk about only one element that gives you satisfaction. There are probably multiple facets that you enjoy, and touching on a few gives you a more fleshed-out answer and showcases more of your personality and attitude. Discuss two or three aspects that give you the most satisfaction. A diversity is best, so avoid touching on similar elements. For instance, suppose you say that you enjoy helping employees improve. Instead of touching on another employee-oriented aspect, you could talk about the gratification you get from setting goals and meeting them.
Things to Avoid
Keep away from hollow and obvious answers that don't cast in you a positive light or show how you can be a positive influence to the company. Highlighting your paycheck as your ultimate source of satisfaction is not an appropriate answer. Everyone loves getting paid. Explaining that you enjoy the lifestyle your type of career offers you doesn't make you stand among the other candidates, and it doesn't show what you bring to the workplace. Sometimes bad answers originate from poor wording. For example, suppose you touch on how you enjoy getting recognized for your efforts. You're insinuating that if you don't get a pat on the back or a thumbs up, you're not happy. That's not necessarily wrong to feel that way, but it's not going to get you a lot of brownie points. It's better to say you enjoy seeing the effort that you put into your work turn into results and make a positive impact in the workplace.