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.
Ian Christie is president of BoldCareer.com, 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.