HOW TO ANSWER: Why Should We Hire You?
After all, the whole interview process is about answering this question: Why should we hire you instead of one of the many other well-qualified applicants?
Every interview question is an attempt to gather information to inform this hiring decision. Many interviewers will also specifically ask you to make your case with one of these questions:
- Why should we hire you?
- Why are you the best candidate for the job?
- Why are you the right fit for the position?
- What would you bring to the position?
To close the deal on a job offer, you MUST be prepared with a concise summary of the top reasons to choose you. Even if your interviewer doesn’t ask one of these question in so many words, you should have an answer prepared and be looking for ways to communicate your top reasons throughout the interview process.
Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?
The interviewer’s job is to hire the best person for the position. Most of the candidates that make it to the interview stage are qualified for the job. The winning candidate must be more than qualified, especially in a very competitive job market.
Every hire is a risk for the company. Your interviewer will also be taking a personal career risk in recommending a particular candidate to hire. If the candidate performs well, Mr. Interviewer looks brilliant and gets a pat on the back (and maybe a bigger annual bonus).
If the candidate turns out to be a dud (doesn’t perform well, doesn’t get along with the team, leaves the job prematurely, etc.), the interviewer looks like a dummy and his professional reputation suffers.
With this question, your interviewer is asking you to sell him on you and your status as the best person for the position. Make his job easier by convincing him that:
- You can do the work and deliver exceptional results
- You will fit in beautifully and be a great addition to the team
- You possess a combination of skills and experience that make you stand out from the crowd
- Hiring you will make him look smart and make his life easier
How to Answer: Why Should We Hire You?
This is your chance to wow them with your highlight reel. Your answer should summarize the top three or four best reasons to hire you. It’s better to have three or four strong reasons with memorable descriptions and/or examples than to rattle off a laundry list of twelve strengths without context.
This is an opportunity to reiterate your most impressive strengthsand/or describe your most memorable selling points, tailored to align with the top requirements in the job description. Your 3-4 bullet points could include a combination of the following:
- Industry experience
- Experience in performing certain tasks or duties
- Technical skills
- Soft skills
- Key accomplishments
Accomplishments and success stories are always good bets, especially if you can describe how a key accomplishment (a successful marketing campaign, for example) demonstrates a desired competency (creativity, results-orientation).
One approach is to mention any unique combination of skills(s) and experience that you possess. For example, many candidates may have strong programming skills, but what if you combine those with team leadership experience that others don’t have? Sounds like a great recipe for a senior programmer. Explain why in your answer.
Most job seekers should be able to develop a standard answer to this question that can be customized a bit for each opportunity. Here’s how:
Step 1: Brainstorm
To get started, review the job description (or a representative job description if you don’t have an interview lined up right now) and your resume and ask yourself these questions:
- What are the most important qualifications for this position from the company’s perspective?
- In which of these areas do I really shine?
- What are my most impressive accomplishments?
- What makes me different from the typical candidate?
Brainstorm and jot down everything that comes to mind.
Step 2: Structure Your Sales Pitch
Next, choose the 3-4 bullet points that make the strongest argument for you. Use those bullet points to structure your sales pitch. Don’t write a script to memorize — simply capture the bullet points that you want to convey. Each bullet will describe the selling point with a brief explanation and/or example for context.
Keep it concise — you still want to keep your answer in the 1-2 minute range so you won’t be able to rattle off every skill and accomplishment on your resume. You have to really think about what sets you apart from the competition.
Step 3: Practice
Once you feel pretty good about the points you want to make, it’s time to practice. Again, it’s not a good idea to memorize a script — you can end up sounding like a robot or feel more nervous because of pressure to remember specific wording.
The better approach is to capture your bullet points, study them, and then practice until you feel comfortable talking about them off the cuff. Your answer should come out a little bit different each time, but it should always cover the points that you want to make.
Remember: It’s also very important to come across as confident and enthusiastic when you deliver your pitch. Make them believe in you — your abilities and your commitment.
If you project confidence (even if you have to fake it a little), you’re more likely to make a strong impression. As for enthusiasm, keep in mind that true passion for the work required is a pretty compelling selling point. Yes, experience and qualifications are important, but the right attitude can definitely give you an edge over those with similar professional backgrounds.
After many years of experience in recruiting and hiring, I’d rather hire someone who has a little less experience, but who is driven and motivated to learn and succeed.
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 little 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 The Ellen Show, where I was exposed to all aspects of TV production and worked so hard the first summer that they invited me back for a second summer and gave me more responsibilities.
During my senior year at UC San Diego, 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 college grad 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.
Ask any salesperson. It’s tough to close a deal in a buyer’s market. Many candidates sabotage themselves with avoidable mistakes.
Lack of preparation — Don’t try to wing it. You should take the time to prepare your 3-4 bullet points and look for opportunities to customize for any new opportunity. Then, you must PRACTICE delivering your sales pitch until it feels comfortable.
Modesty — This is not the time to be modest or self-deprecating. You must be ready, willing, and able to talk about what makes you a great hire. This will require some practice if you are naturally a bit modest.
You don’t have to be super-confident like the candidate in the video example above. You can use your own style. If you’re not comfortable making value statements about yourself (i.e. “I am the perfect candidate.”), you can stick to fact (“I have ten years of experience, got promoted, broke the sales record, won the award, delivered on time and on budget, received kudos from my manager/client, etc.”)
Another way to “sell” yourself with facts is to quote other people’s opinions. Quote your manger, “My manager told me that he’s never seen anyone with more advanced Excel skills.” You can also reference your general reputation: “I have a reputation for always closing the deal” or “I have a history of always completing my projects ahead of schedule.”
Being too general — Do your best to add some personality to your answer. Don’t simply rattle off the bullet points listed in the job description. Really think about what makes you unique and express it in your own voice.
Talking too much — Remember the law of answering interview questions: You should limit each answer to 1-2 minutes in length (not counting any follow-up questions or requests for additional detail).
If you try to walk through your entire resume when answering this question, the interviewer is likely to tune out.
Focus on your most compelling selling points. Keep in mind that you’ll be more believable if you focus on a few strengths and don’t try to claim that you are a master of every business skill imaginable.
What If They Don’t Ask Me?
This is a very effective interview question, but not every hiring manager realizes that. What if you prepare a beautiful pitch and they never ask you why you’re the best candidate?
You may have to look for an opportunity to share your thoughts on the subject. At minimum, the process of preparing the answer will help to inform your response to other questions including:
- Tell me about yourself
- What are your strengths?
Also, remember that a good salesperson always finds a way to deliver his pitch. One approach is to wait for an opening at the end of the interview — maybe after you have asked your questions and the interviewer asks if there is anything else on your mind. You could lead in with a transition like: “I just want to say that I’m very interested in the position and I think I would be a great asset in the role because…”