The job interview questions that seem the simplest on the surface are often the ones that trip us up the most.
One of them is “Why should we hire you?” — and candidates should always come prepared with an answer.
As a career coach with more than 20 years of recruiting and staffing experience, I’ve seen so many people give the same boring answers to this question—ones that are either overconfident but vague (eg, “I’m the best in what Yes and my bosses love me…”) or are too modest but timid (eg “Although this job may require more experience than mine, I think I learn quite quickly…”).
How to answer “Why should we hire you?”
The most impressive candidates leave a lasting impression by doing these three things when crafting their answer:
1. Be specific about key strengths and qualifications.
Just because you shine in a dozen different areas doesn’t mean you have to talk about them all.
You don’t want to give a 10-minute sales pitch, so be selective about what you choose to highlight. Study the job description carefully and list just two or three of the most important skills required for the position.
2. Give an example of each skill.
You can’t just stop after saying, “I’m really good at [X], [Y] and [Z].”
Let your respective skills shine by providing a brief story or example for each. Because you may certainly be good at managing people, but how did you successfully demonstrate that in a previous job?
3. Find the balance between confidence and humility.
Whatever you do, avoid appearing too cocky. Balance your words with confidence and true humility. Your hiring manager wants to know that you are down to earth and will work well with other people.
The best—and most well-liked—employees are not selfish or self-serving. They have a genuine desire to make powerful, constructive change in their company.
An example of the most impressive answers
1.) “You mentioned that you are looking for someone who can manage up to five people and who has a solid understanding of social media marketing. I have more than six years of experience as a marketing manager, leading teams of up to seven or more. My goal is to always listen to people about what they need to do their jobs. In my previous roles, I was able to motivate my teams to meet and exceed quarterly expectations. I also have a strong background in social media marketing. Last year I led the launch of a massive campaign that grew our social media following by 2,000%.”
Why does it work?: This candidate did a great job detailing their experience, achievements and key qualifications for the role. They also gave quick examples of the strengths the employer is looking for.
2.) “Based on the job description, it seems you need someone with strong communication skills and experience working with big name clients. In my previous roles, I attracted numerous Fortune 500 companies — who all remained loyal customers for years. I truly believe the key to this is being a good communicator and always being available and transparent. And if they do hire me, I have a pool of great contacts that we could pitch to.”
Why does it work?: This answer not only describes the candidate’s core strengths, but gives insight into their philosophy on how to successfully win clients. They also touch on how their connections can bring even more value and business to the company.
3. “I know you probably have a lot of highly qualified candidates to choose from. And although I am far from perfect, I believe I will exceed expectations in this role not only because I have experience in increasing sales and creating creative marketing strategies, but I have strong people skills. My previous manager even asked me to give presentations to our entire company on how to be more face-to-face and emotionally connected to customers in a way that makes our services more engaging.”
Why does it work?: This candidate began with a very modest statement, admitting that there are several people who can do the job. However, they go on to explain what makes them unique from the rest: their emotional intelligence, which turns out to be one of the most important skills employers are looking for today.
The big takeaway
In an effort to stand out while presenting why they should be hired, job seekers often convince themselves that they need to make these bold statements.
But impressing a hiring manager doesn’t mean being boisterous. It’s really about showing them that you’ve given serious thought to what your best qualities are, why they make you unique, and how you plan to use them to add value and fit into the company’s culture.
JT O’Donnell is the founder and CEO of Work every day, an online platform designed to help people solve their biggest career problems. She has more than 15 years of experience in recruitment, selection and career coaching. For career advice, follow her on TikTok @jtodonnell.
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