“Why should I hire you?”, the interviewer asks you.
“Because,” you say. “I’m the best person for the job.”
You see, it’s one thing to tell the interviewer you’re the best candidate for the position, and it’s quite another to show them you’re the best candidate for the position.
They need cold, hard evidence.
And, fortunately for you, that’s where we come in.
Every interview question serves a purpose — even the most bizarre ones. But why do hiring managers ask this one in particular, considering how it’s ultimately their decision to make, and not yours?
Well, it’s simple, really — and it’s not because they’re lazy or they don’t trust their own judgement. Rather, they want to find out if you’re qualified for the role.
Sure, they could read your résumé (which they will have, hopefully, already done), but they’re not looking for a rundown of your educational qualifications. They want to know what value you bring to the company and how you will contribute to its success and growth.
They may also ask you this question to see how you handle difficult situations — a particular soft skill that employers look for in potential employees. Indeed, “Why should we hire you?” is one of the few questions that put you on the spot and, depending on how you respond, can help interviewers determine if you’ve got what they’re looking for.
Other ways your interviewer could pose this question include:
- What would you bring to the job?
- Why are you the best candidate for the job?
- Why are you the right fit for the role?
Although it’s impossible to say with absolute certainty whether you’ll be asked this question at your next job interview, one thing is indisputable: it is a common question that hiring managers just love to ask.
In other words, do yourself a favor and prepare a response in case the hiring manager does ask you why they should hire you. (After all, it’s best to be prepared than be caught completely off guard.)
To help you craft the perfect answer, we’ve put together the following tips and tricks.
1. Research the company
Put on your detective’s hat and start researching the company by reading through their website and looking for patterns. For example, on their “Work with Us” page, you may find that they organize regular events and team-building activities all year round. This could signal that teams are a huge part of their culture, and this could be a great opportunity to talk about your own teamwork skills.
2. Focus on the employer’s needs
As the question suggests, your task is to convince the employer that you’re perfect for the job, not that the job is perfect for you.
Essentially, you need to identify a problem the company is facing and come up with a solution — or, rather, be that solution. For example, if the company is having trouble breaking into the French-speaking market, you could talk about how your fluency in French and your large network of business contacts in France and French-speaking Canada can benefit their efforts.
3. Structure your sales pitch
Read the job description again — carefully. What are they looking for in the ideal candidate? What will it take to get the job done?
Look for important keywords and phrases that come up and make a list of these, matching them to your own skills, experiences and achievements. Next, narrow the list down to your three or four strongest selling points, and use this as the basis of your sales pitch.
4. Show that you have the skills for the job
When answering this question, it’s important to show that you have the skills needed for the job. Use examples of how your talents have helped you succeed in previous roles, and explain how the same can be applied to this company, if you were the chosen candidate. Emphasize your achievements and show your talents make you stand out from the crowd.
5. Prove that you’re a good culture fit
Since you’ve already done your company research, you’ll have a good understanding of what the company’s culture is, so here’s your chance to prove that you not only have the skills to perform well on the job, but also have the right personality to fit into the team. This will give you an advantage above other candidates who may not have the same character as you.
6. Be enthusiastic
It’s important to show that you care about this position and are eager to succeed and bag the job. That said, it’s important to not go overboard. Maintain a level of calmness and confidence when you speak, without being too keen (as this may be off-putting). It’s key to show that you have a positive attitude and good work ethic.
7. Be honest
While all these tips and advice on what you should and shouldn’t do during an interview, it’s important to be honest to yourself and to the employer. Don’t exaggerate your skills or pretend that you can do something when you can’t.
Instead, explain that you aren’t knowledgeable in that area but are really keen to learn and expand your skillset in the company. If you don’t, you’ll just set yourself up to fail, and your lies will soon show once you’re actually working on the job.
8. Don’t memorize a script
One of the biggest mistakes you could make when preparing for a job interview is memorizing scripted answers for common questions. Not only do you end up sounding like a robot when reciting those answers, but you also keep your personality from shining through and, as a result, you hinder your chances of building rapport with your interviewer.
It also reflects badly on you. After all, if you can’t even make an effort in your interview, who’s to say you will in the job if you’re hired?
9. Adapt to new information
During the interview, you might learn new information that you weren’t previously aware of or that never came up in your research, and it’s a good idea to customize your response accordingly. This essentially shows that you’re able to think on your feet and that you can easily adapt to changing situations — two more top qualities that employers actively look for in potential employees.
10. Mirror the interviewer
One final piece of advice: mirror the interviewer’s verbal style and physical mannerisms. For example, if you notice that they tend to say “I see” a lot, try subtly incorporating visual words like “see”, “imagine” and “look” into your response (and throughout the entire interview). This little trick, when done right, helps you establish a connection with the interviewer, who will be more inclined to recommend you for the position when a hiring decision needs to be made.
To put all the advice above into practice, we’ve crafted some example responses that you can use as inspiration when preparing your own answer to this common interview question.
Example 1: Graduate
Great question! Although I’m just starting out in my career, I believe I’ve learned the skills from my university degree and work experience to perform well in this role. Besides that, however, I’m just excited at the opportunity to interview and potentially get a job at such a renowned company.
Your organization will give me an excellent platform to establish my skills. In turn, I will be able to offer fresh ideas on new campaigns. I assure you that I will work to my full potential and give my best to help the brand grow.
Example 2: Mid-career professional
Besides having all the skills and experience required for this role, I believe my passion for gourmet food can really help me craft the best marketing materials to help boost sales. In order to be able to promote something effectively, you have to believe in it and enjoy it, too. And I can say that I wholeheartedly believe in what you have to offer. I’ve been a follower and subscriber of your company for many years and love the convenience that you provide busy people who are craving healthy meals. So, for this reason, I feel that we would work very well together.
Example 3: Senior-level professional
I’m a highly experienced editor with over 15 years of experience in this field. Having dealt with all different types of writers and staff, I believe I have the depth of expertise to create and edit content across a handful of industries. That said, I’m particularly interested in the content and advice that you offer to your readers, which is why I’d love to show my versatility and skills within the career sphere. I have read your blog extensively, and the work clearly resonates with my own personal style of writing, which is why we’d be a great fit for each other!
Now that you know what to say, here are a few things that you should avoid at all costs when answering this interview question:
- “I don’t know”: These three simple words can ruin all your chances of securing the job. So, if you’re feeling nervous and your mind draws a blank, take a few moments to compose yourself and think of the answer you’ve practiced and rehearsed.
- “Because I’m the best”: While you may be good at what you do, you certainly aren’t the best out there. This type of gloating isn’t going to get you anywhere and will only negatively impact your chances of success.
- Something completely irrelevant: Stick to answering the question rather than going off trail and talking about something completely irrelevant. I’ve watched this happen way too many times in my career, and it’s a big reason to turn a candidate down!
The question “Why should I hire you?” provides a great opportunity to showcase your soft and hard skills as well as your personality. When preparing your response, remember to:
- Do your research and find common values that you share with the company’s ethos.
- Develop a good understanding of the duties and skills that are required for the role.
- Showcase your prior successes.
While this question may seem to be designed to catch you off guard, it’s actually a good opportunity for you to shine in an interview and convince the hiring manager that you’re the best fit for the role. You simply need to ensure you’ve prepared a persuasive answer.
Have you ever been asked this question in an interview? How did you answer? Let us know in the comments below!
Originally published on December 16, 2013. Contains contributions by Chris Leitch.