You’re almost at the end of your interview when the hiring manager asks you this: “So... tell us why we should hire you?”
Ahhh... the popular “sell yourself to us on why you’re the best candidate... or completely bomb the interview you’ve worked so hard to get” question. This is something you will almost 99.99% be asked at job interviews regardless of whether it is your first or 10th job interview.
Why do hiring managers like to ask this question? Because your answer will essentially be the sales pitch on what you have to offer to the company. In other words, it’s really the handshake that seals the deal. And if you give the wrong answer, well, you can consider the job out of the window.
Before we get to how you should answer this trick question (because that’s what it is – a trick question that will leave most people stumped but not you because you’re reading this article and will be super prepared when you’re asked this), here is how you SHOULD NOT answer it:
“Hmmm.... well, uhm... I am really hard working and I can do the job. I am passionate about the job and I can start anytime. Oh... and I definitely would love the opportunity to show you what I can do.”
What’s wrong with the above? First, you’re waffling and therefore it shows that you’re not confident about your skills and capabilities (lose the uhms and ohs!). Second, the answer is vague. Everyone will claim that they are hard working, they can do the job, and they are passionate (why would you say otherwise, right)? It doesn’t tell the hiring manager much about how you will contribute to the company or what you bring to the table.
Finally, what is it that you want to show you can do? And why should the company give you an opportunity to do this if you can’t evn pinpoint what that is exactly?
So how do you answer this question? Connect the dots between the job requirements and your qualifications. First, you need to really study the job posting and understand if there are specific skills, qualities or experience the company is looking for in the person they eventually hire for it. Think of how you fit the role and what you have to offer.
Then, make sure to research the company! Study its mission and goals, and use that information to explain how you can add value and contribute to the company’s growth.
Also, quantify your accomplishments. It is not enough to say you have accomplished a lot at your previous job; you need to say what (implemented a new process) and how (reducing unnecessary work flow by 25%).
And if you have something that really sets you apart (for example, an overseas posting that could have introduced you to newer skills and methods relevant to the job you’re applying for or a position in a university-led committee that helped hone certain soft skills), make sure to let the hiring manager know because this could be what distinguishes you from the rest.
Last but not least – be concise! Yes, you’re a super talented person but you don’t have to go on and on about how you are the perfect candidate. With all the right pointers that meet all the right requirements, even a short answer will show the hiring manager that you’re the right fit.
How you can do this is by narrowing down your answer to four to five bullet points that include your specific experience, technical skills, soft skills, accomplishments, success stories, education and awards.
So what is the right way to answer this question?
Here are some examples:
“I have the three years of marketing experience that you’re looking for and have had a good track record of being part of several successful projects as highlighted in my resume. At the same time, I worked directly with senior managers in my previous role, which helped develop my communication and leadership skills. I also worked with many high-profile clients and this has offered me valuable negotiating skills. I am certain that I have the experience, skills and knowledge to start contributing from day one.”
“I have two years of internship experience where I was exposed to all aspects of the industry. I showed capability during my internship and was given responsibilities that were beyond those of an intern’s, personally assisting managers and directors. While interning, I was also top of my class. This proves that I have great multitasking skills, dedication and focus – all of which I believe will be valuable in the role I’ve applied for in this company.”
“The role specifies a finance executive who is strong in interpersonal skills. I was head of my debate team in university, which has accorded me with great communication and presentation skills. I was also part of the university’s Student Advisory committee, working alongside other students and teachers. This proves that I am a team player, which I believe is aligned with the job requirement.”
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash