Article, Interview Questions :

Interview Question Tips
by Ian Christie

Why We Should Hire You?

Some interview questions are more important than others. This interview tip tackles what I consider to be one of the most vital in a job interview. The question comes in two basic forms:

* Why should we hire you? Or, why you over someone else?
* What would you bring to our company?

I rarely see people do well with this question. Here are the most common mistakes:

* Candidate doesn't spend enough time on the question
* Candidate names only 1-2 reasons
* Candidate's rambles
* Candidate doesn't sell
* Candidate doesn't create a bridge between what they've done and know to the requirements and environment of the new job

This question really answers the "why are you here" question that is percolating in the interviewer's brain. Your response should sum up the main selling points of what you have to offer. It is not a time to be shy. What is worse, you may have done a great job of navigating the other interview questions, and then soften your candidacy by failing to sell yourself on this question.

And, it is a question that you should expect and therefore can prepare for. Here's how to go about preparing an answer:

Think about what you have to offer this company. Past experience that directly relates to the job you are interviewing for. Specialized knowledge. Situational expertise and experience (growth, change, turnaround, start-up, etc.). Skills. Attributes. Style. Networks. Demonstrated commitment and enthusiasm for the business or your profession. Future potential...

There is a lot to go on...

Create a list of 4-6 categories of reasons that best support and summarize your candidacy, and put them into an order that makes sense. Be sure to have evidence to support each reason. Most points that you make should be stated with follow-up information to back-up your statement. Your list should be well ordered and coherent.

As a rule, your first point should address or summarize very convincingly that you have the experience to do the job.

Another point should address the key candidate traits that are being called for in the job. If, for example, the hiring organization is looking for a change agent, then it would be wise to reflect on that (assuming that it describes you).

While not an absolute rule, this is the kind of question that would likely come towards the end of the interview. If, during the course of the interview, you feel that you did not do well addressing a specific and critical issue and know that you have more to offer than you communicated, then improvising on this question is a good idea. Add to your list or give deeper emphasis to an existing reason by specifically referencing the issue and how you have what they are looking for.

Finally, you may not get asked this question. If you feel that you have not had the opportunity to sell yourself, try and volunteer this information. Rather than sitting back, you will impress by your initiative.

Aside from summarizing why you make a strong candidate for the role, performing well on this question has the added benefit of fostering a perception of you as confident, competent, and not afraid to sell. Never a bad thing.

Tell me a little bit about yourself...

Such an innocent sounding question...

No! It is a trap, and one that most people fall into. This common opener in interviews is not an invitation to recite your resume. Nor, spend 2 minutes talking about your favorite hobby.

This is an opportunity - a predictable opportunity, to craft an engaging, intriguing executive summary of who you are and why you are there in the interview. There is no hard and fast rule as to how long it should be, but let's say up to a minute.

* Interviewers are known to make up their mind in the first few minutes of the interview. Start strong and relevant.
* Momentum is important in building and carrying your confidence. If you are given this opportunity, turn it to your advantage to establish momentum at the outset of the interview.
* Make it relevant to the job you are being interviewed for - the stronger the connection you can make about your background, knowledge and interests to the job you are interviewing for, the more compelling you will be as a candidate.
* If there is something notable about your personal life that adds to your candidacy or helps explain your career trajectory, add it. Otherwise, leave personal details out at this stage.

You want to craft a short statement that makes sense of where you have been so far in your career and where you are going. Rather than ground level, think 20,000 feet level.

Why are you interested in this job? In our company?

I have been digging deep into how to answer specific interview questions. Tell me about yourself and Why should we hire you? are definitely worth a read if this subject is of interest to you.

Next: “Why do you want this job?” "Why are you interested?” “Why us?”

Good questions. Why are you?

Alas, so many job seekers have trouble answering this question because their presence in this interview is a result of three reasons: a desire to have a new job (fair enough), broadcasting their resume to as many possibly postings as possible, and being lucky enough to get called in for an interview. No wonder interviewers are looking for some assurance that you at least remember their company name and the business they are in.

First, if you are really shot gunning your resume, you will be lucky to get any interviews. Let’s assume that through one means or another - postings, recruiters, networks, you have an interview.

How should you answer this question?

Having good reasons shouldn’t be about telling the interviewer what you think they want to hear. This is a double-edged requirement. At some point in the process, you need to demonstrate “why them.” However, if you are going to make a sound decision, you better be clear in your mind about why indeed you are interested.

Here are some categories of responses to consider:

Opportunity: Let’s face it. This is a powerful motivator. Opportunity on a small scale might simply mean landing a job so you can get paid. On a larger scale, and more attractive to the hiring company, it might be about your recognition that the company is doing something exciting and important and you want to be a part of it.

Career Fit: One set of reasons would have something to do about the logical or your desired next steps in your career. This opportunity might represent an entry point for a new direction in your career, or the next logical step in your already established career. A lot of candidates talk about what they want to acquire from the job - skills, knowledge and experience. Okay. What if you could APPLY what you have learned and experienced before into this job? What if one of your reasons was that this job, and the requirements asked for, presents an opportunity to bring those things together? Wouldn’t that be a powerful reason?

Cultural Fit: If you know or sense a strong fit from a cultural / style perspective, that is a plus and worth stating. Of course, if the interviewer doesn’t see the fit, it doesn’t matter, but fit is often the deciding factor in who gets hired.

Interest: What is it about this particular company that draws you to them? Their reputation? The way they do business? The quality of their people? A strategy that they are pursuing? You need to be able to apply some of your reasons to this specific company.

Personal Value Proposition Fit: This is where it comes together. Your personal value proposition - what you bring to the table, then applied to a specific opportunity can be a powerful thing. Yes, it is a combination of some of the reasons above, but it is integrated, and on purpose. The candidate who knows

You Can Be Successful: You never want to take a job where you can’t be successful. When you sense that based on the role description, the mandate and all those other factors, you can succeed in this job, this seems to me to be a powerful reason. Interviewers aren’t interested in people who can’t be successful

Of course, at the early interview stage, you may not be interested yet. You may be investigating them, just as they are investigating you. Not only is that fine, it is healthy. In this case, you can respond with statements like, “From what I have seen so far...” and “Based on my research so far...” and leave the impression that a) you wouldn’t waste your time or theirs if there weren’t real interest, but b) you are still in the courtship phase. If you really have something to offer this company, they will be fine with that, for now.

As long as your interest escalates as the hiring process proceeds. The hiring manager will understand if you have multiple opportunities and are carefully weighing your options. However, there is a point in the process where “hard to get” is not a good idea. To really seal the deal, you should think about demonstrating your escalating interest and explaining why them in a convincing way.

Demonstrating Your Interest
Words are great. You can go further by demonstrating your interest. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:

* Non-verbal communication (body language, tone of voice, etc.)
* The quality of your follow-ups (thank-you letters, phone calls, etc.)
* Doing your industry and company homework
* Asking to talk to more people in the company
* Asking great questions
* Further networking in the industry
* Perhaps thinking more about the role requirement and coming up with a preliminary plan on how you would tackle the job
* and others.

Do you see where I am going with this?

This is all about job search on purpose. The more targeted you can be about your search, the more likely you are to do well at the interview stage.


Ian Christie is president of, a Vancouver-based career services firm focused on assisting managers, executives and other professionals with career coaching, job search and career marketing, resume writing, interview prep and career change.


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