This is the interview question many of us dread. It’s so open-ended and we often feel clueless as to what the interviewer wants to hear. If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll find yourself suddenly tongue-tied when the question comes up. Or you might be one of those folks, like me, who tends to babble when nervous.
But it’s important to answer well because interviewers glean a lot from your reaction to this question. They’re looking for an enthusiastic answer, but also one that’s confident and confidence-inspiring. They want to know that you want the job not just because you need work, but because you feel you would be a good fit for this particular job. And most of all, they want to hear your own summary of what you have to offer.
It’s Not About You
The secret to acing this interview question is to make it about them, not about you.
What do I mean by this?
Too many candidates would answer this question by expressing their desire to work for the company. For example, a common answer is: “I’m very impressed by XYZ company’s rapid growth and I’d like to be help make the company even more successful.”
That’s a professional-sounding answer, but read it again and you’ll see that it’s all focused on the candidate’s needs and desires, and not on the company’s.
Your answer should be all about them
The interviewer isn’t interested in what you want. He’s not a bad person – he just doesn’t know you and therefore he doesn’t care. What’s important to him is the job he’s trying to fill. He wants to find the best possible candidate – the one who will add the most value to his team.
And this is why the ‘why should I hire you?’ question is such a valuable opportunity for you. It’s your best shot to summarize exactly why you would be the perfect fit for this job. Do it right and you’ll soon be settling in at your new desk.
Here’s how to get the answer just right
Prepare your answer before you arrive for the interview. You may never be asked it, but that’s OK. If the question comes up, you’ll have a ready answer.
In order to make it all about them, here are the steps to take:
1. Think about what skills, experiences or knowledge are important in this particular job? (clues will be in the job posting along with stuff you already know about the function or industry).
2. Identify which ones you have. (These are the magic buttons, the ones that – when pressed – will open the door to this job for you).
3. Choose the top 3 ‘magic buttons’ and write a sentence about each that explains what the skill or experience is, and why it is valuable to this company.
For example, “I know that you’re looking for someone with exceptional Google analytics skills, and I am considered the go-to expert on analytics in my current company. Even the senior executives count on me to interpret what’s happening with our web marketing.”
Next go on to your second skill like this:
“I also know that initiative is very important in the XYZ culture and several of my LinkedIn reviews describe how proactive I am, especially when faced with tough challenges.”
And then close with the third:
“Finally, I understand that you’re looking for someone who can jump right in without much training. This is something I’ve done consistently in all my jobs – I actually enjoy the challenge of learning a lot of stuff in a short time, and I’m never afraid to ask questions when I don’t know something.”
That’s “why should I hire you?” in 3 easy steps!
Do you see how easy and effective this can be? By doing some research upfront and following this simple planning process, you’ll be able to arm yourself with a powerful answer if and when the interviewer asks: “why should I hire you?”