When I speak with groups of job hunters, I’ll typically ask them what questions give them trouble. Beyond the obvious ones like telling about yourself, your salary requirements, your weaknesses, and your goals… one I frequently hear is, “Why should we hire you?”
Why are they asking it? What are they looking for? How detailed an answer should you provide? What’s an answer to never give them?
While it may be a rather clumsy question, they ask it anyway. Typically, they’re listening for your closing skills… just as you might ask a salesman why you should buy their product. Think of it as your closing argument if you were an attorney. They likely have several qualified candidates from which to choose. So, why you instead of the others? It’s your chance to make your case.
Different interviewers will give differing views on what answer is best, but a general consensus is they’ll want to hear you articulate how you’d be a good person for that position. That’s pretty obvious, right? But wait… there’s more to that picture.
Let me explain. When determining a good fit, they’re looking in two primary areas: competency and culture fit. Do you have the skills/background/education to do a good job AND are you the type of person they could see working alongside?
If you only answer their question by addressing the competency component, you’ve done nothing to separate yourself from your competition. After all, the other candidates will be talking about competency as well.
The employer is ideally looking for you to address both the competency and culture fit in your answer. Here’s where you’ll gain a leg up on your competition.
Begin your answer with what they’re expecting. Talk very briefly about how your past experiences and education align with what they’re looking for. Then pause, as though you just had a thought. Tell the employer you suspect all candidates have sufficient experiences, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the interview process.
That’s when you lean in, give direct eye contact, lower your voice, slow down… and mention your personal qualities – those things, apart from your work skills – that make you a valued associate. For example, mention your passion and dedication for your work. Those are qualities you either have or you don’t – you can’t teach them or purchase them. That’s what separates you and that’s why they should hire you.
As to how detailed, you should be able to wrap it up in under a minute. Your goal should be to touch on both areas they consider – competency and personality/culture fit.
Oh, and the answer to avoid? “You should hire me because I really want to work for your company.” That answer only addresses what’s in it for you, not what’s in it for the employer.
Interviewing is many things, including competitive. Hopefully today I’ve given you some framework to make this a “winning” answer in your next interview. Good luck!