The question ‘why should we hire you?’ is at the very heart of every job interview. Even if you don’t get asked it directly, this is what your interviewer is trying to find out. It is therefore extremely important that you spend some time preparing an answer to this particular question.
As well as being one of the most common interview questions, it is also one of the most daunting, especially if you’re not a natural salesperson. However, if you get it right, this question offers you a fantastic opportunity to really sell yourself and sum up what you have that sets you apart from the competition. If you think of the interview as a sales pitch, your answer to this question should be your concise and powerful summary of what you can offer your potential future employer. It is a relatively open-ended question which allows you to tackle it in the way that helps show you in the best light possible. If you put in the work before the interview, this could be the question that secures you that job offer.
Why do interviewers ask ‘Why should we hire you?’
This isn’t a lazy question for interviewers to ask; they aren’t trying to get you to do their job for them. In fact, they can find out a whole lot about you by how you answer this question. Their job is not only to find a candidate who will be good at their job, but also a candidate that the company will be able to retain. They will be able to tell very quickly which candidates really care about the role on offer and which candidates are just trying to get any job they can.
Those candidates who care enough about the role to do their homework will be able to prove that they know exactly what the job entails and what skills are necessary for it. They will be able to show that they know what the company values and the type of person that would fit in with these values and the current team. The successful candidate will be able to prove that they have the skills and qualities for the job, they will be a real asset to the company, and they have a genuine interest in the role.
How to answer ‘Why should we hire you?’
Your answer should reiterate your top selling points in relation to the particular role you are interviewing for. It should contain two or three strong reasons which highlight your capability to do an excellent job and why you stand out from the rest of the competition.
So how do you come up with this concise sales pitch to impress your interviewer? The best thing to do is to come up with a list of your top selling points and then customise your answer for each job you interview for. For example, if you pick out half a dozen of your key attributes or experiences, you can then cross-reference these with each job description and choose the most relevant for each role.
The real trick with this question is to come up with something that no one else is going to say. Do you have an extra qualification that goes above and beyond the requirements for the job? Have you had some experience that has given you a unique insight into the demands of this role?
Here are a few things to keep in mind while preparing your answer:
- Don’t waffle on: Make sure that your answer doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes. It might be tempting to take your interviewer through every point on your CV and explain how each experience will help you do the job, however, you will lose their interest very quickly. A few well-chosen points will be much more powerful and memorable when the hiring manager is making their final decision.
- Stand out from the crowd: The chances are that you’re up against equally qualified candidates so listing skills and experience isn’t going to get you very far. Specific examples of when you put your skills into practice will really help you stand out from the other candidates.
- Confidence is key: If you sound like you believe you’re the best person for the job, it’s much more likely your interviewer will too. Have faith in your own skills and ability and let this show in what you say and in your body language too.
Once you’ve got your top selling points ready, prepare your answers as bullet points and practice, practice, practice. Always avoid scripting your answers word-for-word as this puts your answer at risk of sounding unnatural. It could also add extra stress if you try and memorise all of your answers. You need to make sure you can be flexible with your answers too, in case the interviewer phrases a question differently or asks something unexpected.
How not to answer
Being too modest: You should leave your modesty at the door of all job interviews. No one else is going to tell the interviewer how great you are. If you struggle with this sort of thing, remember that you’re not bragging – your skills and achievements are facts. It might help to let your interviewer know the positive feedback you’ve had from others if you feel uncomfortable shouting about yourself in your own words.
Not providing examples: Make sure you don’t rattle off a list of skills without backing up your claims. Make sure you inject a bit of personality into your answer.
Rambling on and on: Giving a long and unstructured answer will make you come across as unprepared and indecisive. If your answers are longer than around two minutes, consider cutting any less essential parts. It’s important to remember that a successful interview will flow like a conversation – the interviewer needs a chance to speak too.
‘When I first read the job description, I was excited to see that you are looking for someone with management experience. I have managed a sales team for nearly three years now, as you can see from my CV. However, the real value of this experience is that it has allowed me to really discover my talent for working with people. I have been able to build and maintain useful relationships over the past three years which have been of a real benefit to the team that I manage. For example, I developed a relationship with a supplier that my team was able to take advantage of and it helped them hit their annual targets. I can see that this role will offer similar opportunities.
Why we like this answer: This candidate has identified the management aspect of the job as being particularly important. They have highlighted previous experience in a similar role but have also demonstrated how they have used their people skills to benefit their team in other ways.
‘Even though I am at the start of my career, I have worked hard to prepare myself for a role like this. What sets me apart as the right candidate for this job is the work experience that I completed at BMW. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there and learned a great deal. They were so impressed with my performance that they offered me a paid internship the next summer. During this internship I put many of the skills required for this role into practice and it confirmed for me that this is the right career for me.’
Why we like this answer: This candidate is confident and the stand-out part of their answer is when they explain that they were offered a paid role after some work experience. This shows that an employer was also confident in their skills. Even if they don’t meet the whole criteria for the role, they have given the impression that they will be able to pick the necessary skills up quickly. It could be improved with some extra detail as to what skills they learned at the internship.