I think we all know that “why should we hire you” is THE question in an interview. It’s not even just one of the most common questions, but the core essence of the interview itself! Think about it, all of the other questions in an interview are there for a very specific targeted purpose:
- How will this person manage their time (‘How do you manage your work?‘)
- Are they a flight risk (‘Where do you see yourself in five years?‘)
- Would they fit in well with the team (‘What are your career goals?‘)
But the purpose of this question is the same as the overall purpose of the interview, “should we hire you?!” Whether or not they even ask this interview question, every minute of the interview is really you answering this question. This also means that if you answer this question well, the rest of the interview is just a bonus, or an opportunity to screw everything up I guess, but let’s stay optimistic.
Now don’t get me wrong, every question is an opportunity to impress the interviewer and sell yourself, but this is THE “sell-yourself-question”. You don’t have to twist a story of failure into something that makes you look good, or be bound by the limitations of a strange question. This is your open-ended free shot to tell them why YOU are the best candidate, and why they would be crazy not to hire you.
The best way to answer the question “why should we hire you” is to show them that you’ve done this job before and that you’ll do it again while adding value that’s unique to you and your experiences.
Selling Yourself – Why They Should Hire You
Unlike most interview questions, “why should we hire you” isn’t about simply answering a single question; there are several points you’ll need to get across in your answer. You’re selling the whole package, so I like to break this response down into three different things about you that you’re going to share with the interviewer to express why YOU are the best candidate for this job, and those three components are:
- Your Qualifications
- Your Past Accomplishments
- Your You-ness
By hitting on all three of these things, you’re going to show them that you’re the complete package and the candidate who will provide the most value.
The first of these components that you’ll want to be sure to get across in your response is your qualifications. This usually includes highlighting the skills and talents that you’re proficient in, and that you know will allow you to be able to do the job that you’re applying to. If you have any doubts about how to do this, you can honestly just walk through the job listing and pick out the most relevant requirements that you can speak to. The purpose here is really to convince the interviewer that you can do the job that you’re applying for.
If the interviewer leaves this interview questioning whether or not you could do the job, then you’ve failed the interview.
Spouting off qualifications from the job listing is a great place to start, but just saying “I’m qualified” doesn’t really close the deal. Highlighting your qualifications simply gives you a starting point to build on throughout the interview. What you’ll really want to do is SHOW the interview that you’re qualified, and the best way to do this is by sharing your past experiences.
Your Past Experiences
The best way to show the interviewers that you’d be able to do the job you’re applying to is by sharing past experiences that are related to the skills needed to do the job you’re applying to. Your experiences here can be awards, projects, personal or professional accomplishments, or anything else that is going to show the interviewer that you’ve been here before. That you’ve had comparable tasks and achieved them. This isn’t simply a bragging session though, You’re not just trying to impress them as a person, you’re using your experiences to solidify the fact that you’re competent and that they wouldn’t regret hiring you to do this job. A few good questions you can try and answer with your experiences here are:
- How have your previous jobs prepared you for this?
- What are some of your achievements that show you already have done something similar?
- What about your work experience is unique to you?
- What about your personal experiences makes you stand out over other candidates?
But What if You’re Not Qualified?
Even if you’re not technically qualified for the position that you’re applying to, you can still answer this question effectively, just know you’re a tiny bit handicapped.
I’ll be the first to admit, I apply to jobs I’m not “qualified” for all the time, and by “qualified”, I mean that I don’t meet every “required” skill and experience on the job listing. The reason I apply to jobs like this is that I’m confident that given the opportunity I can, in fact, do the job. And I use this question, to convince the interviewers of this.
I’ve always followed the idea that if you’re 100% sure that you can easily perform a job, then that job is too easy for you and you should be thinking bigger. If you’re nervous that you might crash and burn, but are more than 50% confident that you could figure it out, that’s a good ratio. This is kind of a loose rule that I use, and it’s going to be different for everybody, but I find that by jumping into the deep end and being forced to learn through a fire hose of information, I grow my best and can always adapt. I also have multiple experiences of this to back up that assertion, which goes right back to the core idea of being able to use your past experiences to show your competence.
Just because you don’t check some of the boxes doesn’t mean you can’t do the job, it just means that you need to convince them that you can do the job, despite not having some of the official requirements. The most powerful way to do this is still through utilizing a combination of your skills and your past experiences. In this situation, it’s helpful to share experiences of when you’ve been able to quickly pick up a new skill like you’ll need to do in this new position.
At this point, you’ve shown that you can do the job. You’ve done that by sharing your skills, your qualifications, and your accomplishments. Once you’ve cleared that minimum bar, you’re going to sprinkle on why you’re BETTER than all of the other candidates applying for this job position, and one of the best ways to do that is by sharing with the interviewer your you-ness.
Your you-ness in this context is the value that you’ll be adding to the team, above and beyond just “doing your job”. Doing your job is expected of you, but the added value that you can provide is what’s going to push you over the top. Whether that’s through maximizing sales or simply by being a supportive coworker, any extra value is the thing that’s going to be the thing that stands out when comparing you to the other candidates. I tend to break this up into two categories: direct value and indirect value.
Direct value simply means you did something awesome above and beyond your basic job requirements, and that led directly to measurable results. A couple of examples of this in your response could be:
- “I was able to save my company $50,000 in labor costs by automating our systems.”
- “I earned the company an additional $100,000 in sales which led me to receive awards three months in a row.”
Anything like this where you can prove your actions provided direct value to the company in some form. Being able to quantify this with metrics and stats is going to win you a gold star here too, and this doesn’t need to be dollar values (though, they do love dollar values). Whatever metric this team judges their success by, show that you can do it, or more importantly, have done something similar in the past.
Indirect Value, on the other hand, can be a bit more subtle and difficult to describe, much less quantify. Here we’re going to show that we’re not only high performers, but contribute to a positive work environment. At this point you’ve probably sold your ability to do the job, now you want them to like you, or at least want you as a coworker.
Here’s the thing I want you to remember about this part of the response, and actually this applies to the entire interview:
“If you can show the hiring manager that your being on the team is going to make their life easier and make him/her look good, then you have a huge advantage over other candidates who haven’t made this sell.”
But this part of the response doesn’t have to be just about making the hiring manager’s life easier, it can be simply that you’re funny, or that you bring in cookies every day to help the team bond. Really anything that you personally bring to the team, will allow the team overall to perform better, and honestly, make the hiring manager like you enough that they just want you on the team, even if you’re not as qualified as some of the other candidates.
Job interviews aren’t easy, especially when you need to translate the question they asked into the question that they really want to know. But the interview question “Why should we hire you” is pretty straightforward, why are you worth hiring? This is a simple question that doesn’t necessarily have a simple answer, but there are three general ideas that you’ll want to express in a good interview response:
Your Qualifications – Your qualifications are your hard and soft skills that show you’ll be able to meet the requirements the hiring manager has for this job role (think stuff on your resume/job listing).
Your Experiences – Your experiences are how you’ll SHOW the interviewer that you’ve done similar things in the past, and will convince them that you’ll do it again in this job role.
Your Youness – Your you-ness is the additional value you’ll provide (direct or indirect) that isn’t on your resume. the things that are going to make you stand out above the other candidates.
Answer this question well and you’ll be top of the list to land that next job.