CAREER MONDAYS: Pass your next job interview by answering this one question well
Your answer to this interview question could make or break your chances. You need a brief pitch that matches your experiences with an employer’s needs.
“Why should we hire you?” is another common interview question that can take you down the wrong road unless you’ve done some thinking ahead of time.
If an interviewer asks you, “Why should we hire you?” in an interview, they are giving you the opportunity to sell yourself. Think of yourself as the product. Why should the customer buy?
The wrong answer
Mike answers by saying, “Because I need and want a job.” That’s nice, but the bottom line here is, “What can you do for us?”
Maria says, “I’m a hard worker and really want to work for this company.” The majority of people think of themselves as hard workers—and why this company?
The right answer
Tom’s answer to this question is, “Because I’m a good fit for the position.” Getting warmer, but more details, please.
Sharon answers, “I have what it takes to solve problems and do the job.” This is the best answer so far. Expand on this, and you’ve got it.
Develop a sales statement
The more details you give, the better your answer will be. This is not a time to talk about what you want. Rather, it is a time to summarize your accomplishments and relate what makes you unique.
Product inventory exercise
The bottom line of this question is, “What can you do for this company?”
Start by looking at the job description or posting. What is the employer stressing as requirements of the job? What will it take to get the job done? Make a list of those requirements.
Next, do an inventory to determine what you have to offer as a fit for those requirements. Think of two or three key qualities you have to offer that match those the employer is seeking. Don’t underestimate personal traits that make you unique; your energy, personality type, working style and people skills are all very relevant to any job.
The sales pitch: You are the solution
From the list of requirements, match what you have to offer and merge the two into a summary statement.
This is your sales pitch. It should be no more than two minutes long and should stress the traits that make you unique and a good match for the job.
“From our conversations, it sounds like you’re looking for someone to come in and take charge immediately. It also sounds like you are experiencing problems with some of your database systems. With my seven years of experience working with financial databases, I have saved companies thousands of shillings by streamlining systems. My high energy and quick learning style enable me to hit the ground running and size up problems rapidly. My colleagues would tell you I’m a team player who maintains a positive attitude and outlook. I have the ability to stay focused in stressful situations and can be counted on when the going gets tough. I’m confident I would be a great addition to your team.”
What makes you unique?
Completing an exercise around this question will allow you to concentrate on your unique qualities. Like snowflakes, no two people are alike. Take some time to think about what sets you apart from others.
Let the interviewer know that you have been listening to the problem and have what it takes to do the job—that you are the solution to the problem.
Example Answer 1: Project Manager
“Well, I have all of the skills and experience that you’re looking for and I’m confident that I would be a superstar in this project management role.
It’s not just my background leading successful projects for top companies — or my people skills, which have helped me develop great relationships with developers, vendors, and senior managers alike. But I’m also passionate about this industry and I’m driven to deliver high-quality work.”
Why We Like It:
She has a lot of confidence and is able to concisely sum up how she meets the position’s top requirements (project management experience, relationship and team skills). This answer is a bit general and could perhaps be further strengthened with examples (describing a successful project, naming one of those top companies, offering evidence of those great relationships).
However, assuming that the candidate has already discussed some specifics of her past roles, this answer does a good job of reiterating and emphasizing. She doesn’t make the interviewer put all of the pieces together on his own.
She does it for him and naturally does it with a very positive spin. We also really like the last line: What’s not to love about passion, drive, and high-quality work?
Example Answer 2: Programmer
“Honestly, I almost feel like the job description was written with me in mind. I have the 6 years of programming experience you’re looking for, a track record of successful projects, and proven expertise in agile development processes.
At the same time, I have developed my communication skills from working directly with senior managers, which means I am well prepared to work on high-profile, cross-department projects. I have the experience to start contributing from day one and I am truly excited about the prospect of getting started.”
Why We Like It:
This is another good approach to summing up key qualifications and demonstrating a great fit with the position requirements. In particular, this candidate is likely to win points with “the experience to start contributing from day one.” He won’t need much training or hand-holding and that’s attractive to any employer.
Example Answer 3: New College Grad
“I have the experience and the attitude to excel in this production assistant position. I have almost two years of television production experience — including two summers interning at Sakata Show, where I was exposed to all aspects of TV production and worked so hard the first long holiday that they invited me back for a second long holiday and gave me more responsibilities.
During my forth year at University of Nairobi, I have been working part-time for a production company, where I have served in an assistant role but also recently had the chance to help edit several episodes. I have a reputation for getting things done — and with a smile on my face.
That’s because I love working in the television industry and am excited to learn and get experience in every way possible.”
Why We Like It:
This candidate has some nice internship and part-time experience, but she’s a new graduate and doesn’t have any full-time positions to talk about.
This answer highlights the experience that she does have (and the fact that she performed well — she was invited back to her internship and was given an opportunity to edit at her part-time job).
She also expresses her enthusiasm for the job and her strong work ethic. These qualities are important for an entry-level hire, who will likely be doing quite a bit of grunt work at first.