UPDATED ON JUNE 8, 2017: Original article published on February 10, 2016.
In this next installment of our Best Answers blog series, we're tackling how to answer the interview question that each and every time, and without fail, sounds like a trick question. Doesn't the answer seem so obvious when an employer or hiring manager asks you, "Why should we hire you?"
What The Question Is Really Asking
It would be easy to think that this interview question is asked to see how arrogant you are. Instead, try thinking of it as your chance to really sell yourself.
If your resume is your business card, then your answer to this interview question is your sales pitch.
Have Your Elevator Pitch Ready
An elevator pitch is a 15-second sales pitch that has to concisely identify your top skills and describe the value you offer. In other words, how would you describe yourself to another professional if you only had a few moments on an elevator?
What they want to know quickly and concisely is what will make you the best fit for that specific position.
How To Answer "Why Should We Hire You?"
First, take an inventory of your skills and accomplishments. Then take a look at the job posting. Those items that overlap are by far the best selling points you will have at this particular interview.
That's right, your interview answers (like your resume) should change depending on the job position!
Once you have an idea of what the employer is looking for, start reflecting on concrete examples of how these attributes make you the best candidate. Your examples are what will set you apart from other candidates with similar skills and experiences. For example, when a job posting requires someone with problem solving skills, think of a time when you assessed a situation and implemented a positive change.
Once you have a handful of attributes that set you apart, identify the two strongest to emphasize in your elevator pitch. Begin by explaining what you think the employer's greatest pain-points are and follow through with how you will relieve these pain points.
"Your company is looking for a superior communicator who will connect your customers with your sales team. I am a results-driven professional with over 10 years of success in generating more sales leads. I have been published on major industry websites, and my storytelling abilities and industry expertise will be an asset to your marketing team."
"You have expressed that you need a sales executive who can manage over a dozen employees. In my fifteen years of being a sales manager, I have gained solid motivational and team building skills. I was even awarded Manager of the Year three consecutive times for motivating my team to exceed quarterly quotas. I will bring the same level of leadership and achievement to your company."
"You describe a need for an administrative assistant who is highly technologically savvy. In the last five years, I have volunteered as a computer tutor for a local community college teaching adults how to navigate personal computers and laptops, Microsoft Office, internet research, and social media best practices. I also enjoy working with people, and would welcome the opportunity to be a part of your team."
Why Shouldn't We Hire You?
You need to be just as prepared for this question. Never start an answer to this interview question with "because" followed by a negative quality. Rather you should use this as an opportunity to describe your ideal work environment.
For example, you could answer like this:
"You shouldn't hire me if you are looking for someone who will need to be micro-managed. I am the most productive when I can be given some leeway to work independently."
"You shouldn't hire me if an extrovert wouldn't fit in well with your team. I can stay on task, but developing strong relationships with my coworkers is a clear priority. I'm a team player that thrives on interaction with colleagues."