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Respond without hesitation when employers look you in the eye and bluntly ask, “Why should I hire you?” If you can’t quickly provide compelling reasons why the employer would want to hire you, maximize the opportunity to persuasively explain why your unique skill set makes you everything the company is looking for and more.
Take the Question Seriously
Georgetown University suggests that the best interview question is, “Why should I hire you?” The hiring manager is really asking what makes you a better fit than the dozens of other talented applicants competing for the same job. Even though you do not know how you objectively stack up against your competitors, you can still sell yourself as the perfect complement to the organization’s ethos, mission, culture and future goals.
Think on Your Feet
“Why should I hire you?” is a ubiquitous interview question across industries that is typically presented at the start or end of a job interview. The question may even be asked with a hint of cynicism. There is a reason why hiring managers use this direct questioning method instead of politely asking, “What are a few special reasons that make you the best candidate we could hope to find in the applicant pool?” The purpose is to see how well you can think on your feet, react to pointed questions and capitalize on an opportunity for appropriate self-promotion.
Anticipate the Question
Sooner or later, you will be asked the loaded, “Why should I hire you?” question in a nice, or maybe, not so nice way. All your tests in school have prepared you for this moment. Pointed questions call for a direct answer. Be ready to launch into a succinct elevator speech describing what you could do for the company, such as solve a vexing problem, increase sales, tap new markets, streamline operations, harness big data, save money, resolve conflicts, motivate teams or improve services.
Research the Company
Research the company to get a sense of what challenges or opportunities the company faces now or in the future. Don’t guess at what you think the employer may need. Instead, start by carefully reviewing the company's website, talking to your contacts who are familiar with the company, reading trade journals and researching online articles that mention the company.
Analyze how the position contributes to the mission of the organization. Why does this position exist? How could this position offer solutions? Use that information to craft your answer to the “Why should I hire you?” question. Your research will provide insight into what the employer considers the ideal candidate for the job, according to the National Association of Sales Professionals.
Prepare Talking Points
If you have prepared talking points, you will come across as capable, intelligent and unflappable. Remind yourself that employers are genuinely interested in hearing compelling reasons why you should be hired, which makes their hiring decisions easier to make and to justify. Harvard University recommends preparing several examples of your core competencies in critical thinking, technical skill, problem-solving abilities, cognitive strengths, leadership, teamwork, communication skills and professional conduct.
Maintain Your Focus
Know what you are going to say and stay on topic. Your answer should take approximately two minutes or slightly longer if the interview is one hour or more. If possible, try to cover these points:
- Your unique qualifications.
- Your potential contributions to the company.
- How the job complements your career aspirations.
- Identify special skills that speak to why you’re the best person for the job.
While working on a faculty-led research team as an undergrad, I acquired in-depth knowledge of supply chain visibility. I welcome an opportunity to apply my skills to helping your suppliers keep tabs on inventory to ensure there are no delays in getting products to customers, which you mentioned earlier is a problem. The position would enable me to further develop my skills and reputation as a data scientist known for helping organizations make decisions based on precise, real time data analysis.
Show Energy and Enthusiasm
Smile and embrace the question as your chance to convince the employer that you have what it takes to excel at the job and advance with the company. Even if you’re a recent graduate facing tough competition, you bring a unique combination of natural talents, skills, life experience, schooling, training and mentoring. Keep in mind that employers may not connect the dots between your skills and the responsibilities of the job, which is why you should do that for them.
This job requires a strong background in sales and knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry. I learned about the pharmaceutical business from my father who hired me to work at his drug store as soon as I turned 16. I worked my way through college selling solar systems door-to-door, and I graduated with a degree in business marketing and a minor in chemistry. I would be able to hit the ground running in this position.
Give Precise Answers
Employers who ask, “Why should I hire you?” are hoping to hear concrete reasons that make good sense. Vague answers without substance won’t win points. The goal is to back up any claims you make with evidence. Experienced hiring managers seek to determine whether you fit the company’s culture.
Don’t say: You should hire me because I worked at a busy department store in college, so I know I could handle the stressful customer service job you advertised.
Do say: Your company prides itself on exceptional customer service and satisfaction, and I hold the same values. Solving problems for customers and retaining their loyalty is highly satisfying to me. My degree in communications, experience in retail sales and my recent customer service award, make me a great fit for your dedicated customer service team.
Why Should I Hire You: Answers That Work
Undoubtedly, there are countless reasons why an employer should hire you. Everyone has natural abilities, acquired skills and valuable experience to contribute. Most jobs require a very specific skill set. When answering the question, bring up your credentials and stress the skills you possess that best fit the job.
Don’t say: You should hire me to work in graphic design because I am dependable and take direction well.
Do say: I have a BFA, a portfolio of my digital work and freelance experience working for major companies that make me an asset to your current web redesign team.
Communicate Confidence – Not Conceit
Attitude and tone are very important in interviews. A strong candidate is likable, driven, confident and self-assured. Candidates who look great on paper can lose out on a job if they come across as arrogant and full of themselves during the interview. Be authentic, mention your problem-solving skills and take pride in your accomplishments without bragging.
- I have a passion for marketing new high-end gadgets that generate a high volume of preorders.
- I am applying only to gadget companies like yours that share my commitment to sustainability.
- I broke a sales record for selling gadgets at my last job. I have several ideas that I believe could quickly turn around your declining gadget sales.
- The team-oriented culture here fits my preferred work style, and I can see myself growing with the company.
Tips for New Grads
Inexperienced college grads – known as “freshers” in some countries, like India – must go into interviews prepared for anything. If you are anxiously looking for your first full-time job out of college, the dreaded “Why should I hire you?” question can be especially intimidating. You can ace this question by pointing out what you have to offer as a new graduate, or “fresher.”
- Boundless energy.
- Willingness to travel or relocate.
- Fresh perspective.
- Proficiency with in-demand skills, such as Blockchain, AI, IoT.
- Yearning for learning.
- Knowledge of emerging trends in the youth market.
- Awareness of changing social media preferences.
- Cross-cultural competence and sensitivity.
How NOT to Respond
The employer is more interested in what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. Employers are already cognizant of the attractive perks the company offers their employees, such as competitive salaries, job stability and opportunity for advancement. A flip or humorous answer could backfire.
Examples of weak answers:
- You should hire me because I would love to work for a well-established company with a good reputation and competitive wages.
- You should hire me because I really need this job. I haven’t been able to find work and my unemployment benefits are running out soon.
- Why shouldn’t you hire me? I’m great! And you need people, right?
Tailor Your Answer to the Job Requirements
Answers to "Why should I hire you?" should be specific to your field. For instance, answers to "Why should I hire you as a nurse?" will be different from answers to "Why should I hire you as a computer programmer?" Customize your answer to the core competencies of your specific profession instead of saying you should be hired because you’re a hard worker, for example.
My senior research project at MIT taught me a lot about artificial intelligence. I understand that you are looking at integrating new AI technologies into your business operations. My knowledge of AI would make me a valuable team member as the company upgrades its technology.
Use the STAR Method
The Society for Human Resource Management recommends using the well-known Situation, Task, Actions, Results method to come up with effective answers to “Why should I hire you?” The STAR method is a way of responding to interview questions with a short, captivating story of past accomplishments. This technique can be used to show how your past successes would translate into future successes, which is why the company should hire you.
Start off by describing a problem, a dilemma or the deadlines you faced at a previous job. Next identify the tasks that had to be undertaken. Describe the action steps taken. Lastly, share how things turned out. After sharing your story, connect it back to how you would apply those same skills in a new job.
Situation: A team member was consistently behind on her part of the project.
Task: I decided to talk with her after we almost lost an account due to failing to meet a deadline_._
Action: I asked my coworker to lunch. I brought up concerns about deadlines. She apologized, explaining that she didn’t understand the new software, but didn’t want to bother anyone by asking for help. I stated that I was happy to assist, and we set up times to meet.
Result: With my help, my coworker caught on quickly. The team was thrilled that we were suddenly submitting work ahead of schedule.
Conclude with a positive statement like: I have always prided myself on being a team player, so I am very excited about a job with your company, which uses cross-departmental project teams. If hired, I would be totally invested in the success of my team, while acquiring new skills for myself as well as helping the company to expand.
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- NASP: "So Why Should We Hire You?"
- Seattle Central College: Job Interview Answer: Why Should I Hire You?
- Georgetown University: "Why Should I Hire You?" Tips for Answering the Eternal Interview Question
- Harvard: Interviewing
- Business Line: IBM India Re-Jigs Fresher Hiring Strategy in its Quest for Talent
- Society for Human Resource Management: Behavioral Interview Guide: Mid-career Job Candidates
Dr. Mary Dowd brings decades of hands-on experience to her writing endeavors. Along with general knowledge of human resources, she has specialized training in affirmative action, investigations and equal opportunity. While working as a dean of students, she advised college students on emerging career trends and job seeking strategies. As director of equal opportunity, she led efforts to diversify the workforce and the student body.