Interview Question: "Why Should We Hire You?"
This question doesn’t need much of an introduction. I think we all know that this is THE question in an interview. 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 bonus, or an opportunity to screw everything up I guess, but lets 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.
This is your hard sell!
But that means unlike most interview questions, there isn't just one thing you need to get across. 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 Past Accomplishments
By hitting on all three of these things, we’re going to show them that we’re the complete package and the candidate who will provide the most value.
The first of these that we’ll want to be sure to get across in our response is our qualifications. This usually includes highlighting our skills and talents that we are proficient in and that we know will allow us to be able to do the job that we’re applying to. If you have any doubts on how to do this one, 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 we could do the job that we’re applying to.
If they leave this interview...
Questioning that fact...
Then we’ve failed our interview!
But just saying “I’m qualified” doesn’t really do it here, highlighting our qualifications simply gives us a starting point. What we really want to do is SHOW them that we’re qualified, and the best way to do this is by sharing our past experiences.
Your Past Experiences
Your experiences here can be awards, projects, personal or professional accomplishments, anything that is going to show the interviewer that you’ve been here before. That you’ve had comparable tasks and 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.
Now 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 / experience on the job listing. The reason I apply to jobs like this is because 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.
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 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 we’ve showed that we can do the job. We’ve done that by sharing our skills, our qualifications, and our accomplishments. once we’ve cleared that minimum bar, we’re going to sprinkle on why we’re BETTER than all of the other candidates applying for this job position, and we’re going to do that 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 additional value that you can provide. Whether that’s through maximizing sales or simply by being a supportive coworker, any extra value is the thing that’s going to push you over the top when comparing you to the other candidates. I tend to break this up into two categories: direct value and indirect value.
Your Direct Value
Direct value simply means you did something awesome above and beyond your basic job requirements, and that led directly to measurable results. An couple of example of this in your response could be:
“I was able to save my company $50,000 in labor costs by automating our systems."
“I earn the company an additional $100,000 in sales which led me to receiving 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.
Your Indirect Value
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 you 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, that 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 as straight forward as they come. Answer this question well and you’ll be top of the list to land that next job.