“Why should I hire you?” is one of the most common job interview questions, yet so many candidates blow their chances of success with either a weak answer or an arrogant statement. When I speak with candidates, they almost always tell me that this is one of the hardest questions to answer and they find it tricky to strike a balance between confidence and cocky.
So how do you pitch your answer perfectly, so that the hiring manager is attracted to your skills, expertise and personal attributes. How do you do this without waffling, being overcome with a lack of self-confidence, or either way, talking yourself out of the job?
Take the time to prepare and practise your answer. You will probably find it uncomfortable to start with, but that’s okay. Not many people are used to talking about themselves in such a self-promotional way. Just remember that a job interview is not the time to be shy and retiring – the interviewer will expect you to blow your own trumpet!
Have fun with it! Find a room where nobody can hear you and go for it! Start by saying aloud all the things that are amazing about you and how much your skills and expertise will benefit the company. What is your unique selling point? What makes you stand out from the crowd? Go wild! Just get to the point where you don’t feel stupid speaking out loud then start to scale it back so you sound sincere.
Why not record your voice with a dictaphone or your cellphone? Play it back to give yourself feedback on the tone of your voice, and of course the quality of the content you have vocalised.
Take it one step further and speak while in front of a mirror. Look at your gestures and smile!
Have you heard of a 30-second elevator pitch? It’s a term often used in the business world and simply means, what would you say in 30 seconds to promote a product or service? You can use this idea for your answer in a job interview, only this time, it’s you that is the product. What can you say in 30 seconds that will allow the hiring manager to visualise you in the new job role and convince them that you are the right person to hire for the job?
During a job interview, the trick is to summarise your skills, experience and qualifications that are relevant to the role in a succinct way with confidence.
Many candidates feel uncomfortable with this, but this is your chance to really ‘sell’ yourself and stand out from the competition. It’s your way to be memorable and ensure that whoever has interviewed you will be talking about you to others within the organisation even after you have left the building for all the right reasons. You don’t want to be remembered for being the nervous, shy or twitchy candidate, do you?
A great salesperson will keep a close eye on their potential customer to look and listen for buying signals. They will also listen intently to establish the customer’s needs then sell a product or service based on what the customer actually wants. It’s an easier sell than trying to push something onto the customer that they don’t require.
You can use this as a technique in a job interview if you imagine the interviewer is the customer – in other words, the interviewer is the buyer (hirer). During your previous answers, look out for positive buying or hiring signals, such as smiling, nodding, agreeing and enthusiastic responses. If they are responding positively to what you say, try to remember these as you can then use the information when asked, “Why should I hire you?” because you have already established the things they like to hear.
You can also prepare further in advance by looking for clues based on the information detailed in the job description. Use this to your advantage by reading all the details to discover what the employer is looking for. What are the top three things they are requesting as essential requirements of the role? If you meet these, then that’s what you should include in your answer.
The most important part of answering is to highlight your strengths and prior experience in relation to the job role and how these will benefit the company in both the short and long term. You are the product so think about what the buyer (the company/ interviewer) needs.
Research the company and its competitors to see if you can come up with any golden nugget of information that you can use to add detail to your answer, not only for this question but others as well, as part of the interview process.
Sometimes, you will be asked to compare yourself to competing candidates, which is a roundabout way of asking “Why should I hire you?”
Comparison questions are a gift as they are your chance to really sell yourself by telling the interviewer why they should choose you above all the other candidates. Comparison questions are without a doubt decision making questions and if you are asked these, then there is a high probability that you are doing well!
“What new skills or ideas do you bring to the job that our internal candidates don’t offer?”
Internal candidates can often be your biggest competitor as many employers look upon sideways moves or promotions as more seamless and cost-effective. No matter how amazing an external hire is; it still takes commitment, money and time to train and induct the new employee. Internal candidates can, therefore, be viewed as less of a risk.
Now is your chance to invite the interviewer to visualise how your external commercial experience can benefit the company and even if the internal candidate has more qualifications or hands-on experience, you can add more value particularly if you have worked for one of their competitors or have transferable skills which the other candidate may not have.
Back to the job description, company research and commercial awareness again. What can you bring from the outside and turn into action immediately? Can you see any gaps in the role or weaknesses of the company that you can use your expertise to positively change?
Be bold! What can you offer that they can’t?
“We’re considering two other candidates for this position. Why should we hire you rather than someone else?”
Two, five, ten, a thousand candidates. The number is irrelevant here, so only focus on why they should hire YOU. Regardless of how many candidates are competing, it is ultimately only one person who will be hired for the position, so if you want that person to be you, you have to be the best.
If you are asked this towards the end of the interview, use the information you have gained during your conversation and stress any points where you have seen positive buying signals from the interviewer.
Unless you have been specifically asked a comparison question, steer clear of saying you are the best candidate for the job. Use your skills and experience to highlight this rather than claiming something you can’t substantiate. Never say you know you will be an asset to the current team unless you have actually met them and spent time with them. You can’t claim you will be an asset, just because you ‘think’ you will be. The hiring manager will just assume you are big-headed, verging on the side of arrogance and that could undo all the great work you have delivered in your previous answers.
Remove from your vocabulary overused words and clichés, such as hard-working, reliable, nice, punctual, target driven, loyal, team player, and so forth, as it is an assumption that you will be all of these as an employee. These are simple abilities that are a basic requirement of all job roles and won’t make you stand out from your competitors.
Keep your answers factual and avoid adding emotional or personal attributes that are subjective. Keep your answer down to 30 seconds or less and don’t forget to smile!