Job Search Tip of the Week #15 (2018)


How to Ace Your First-Round (or Really, Just About Any) Interview

Think Like an Interviewer – Q9

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing the reasons behind the most commonly asked interview questions and how to provide answers that address them effectively. This week, let’s take a look at a question intended to gauge your confidence level: “Why should I hire you?”

(If you’re a loyal CareerJuice reader, you may remember closely examining this question with us before. However, keep reading, as this post will serve as both a refresher course and an advanced addendum.)

Opportunities to sell yourself as the valuable asset the company needs can be found in questions such as:

  • Why should I hire you?
  • What can you do for the company?
  • What would you contribute to the company?
  • What do you have to offer the company?
  • How would you add value to the company?
  • Why should you be chosen over other candidates who have equal if not stronger qualifications or more experience?

So, think about the most persuasive people you know. What makes them more successful than others at promoting their products and services, or opinions and ideas?

They Know Themselves

Recall the most pleasant interactions you’ve had with sales representatives while shopping. Most likely, what those enjoyable experiences have in common are sales professionals who seemed self-assured yet genuine, thus instilling confidence and trust in their service and expertise. How did they get that way? By learning their strengths and weaknesses and applying them effectively.

Becoming self-aware will help you build a positive yet realistic self-confidence, which in turn will make you feel more comfortable and help you portray yourself accurately in your interview. A little bragging is expected, but don’t exaggerate or deceive – you don’t want to promise your potential employer the moon and deliver Swiss cheese, so to speak!

Get to know yourself well by:

  • Making a list of your positive attributes,
  • Determining and quantifying your most positive contributions to past and/or current employers,
  • Identifying the skills, abilities, and experiences that make you a viable candidate for the type of position you seek, and
  • Asking yourself what attracted you to the company and position.

They Know Their Customers

But as any successful sales professional knows, it takes much more than confidence to close a sale: You have to demonstrate that there’s a perfect match between demand and supply. In other words, in order to compete for business against companies who offer similar products or services to yours, you have to get to know your clients and understand their needs, and then communicate how you can fulfill them as no one else can.

As a job seeker, you too must consider the supply and demand theory in order to best respond to questions such as “Why should I hire you?”

We’ve mentioned previously that there are a few scenarios that would create an open job:

  • The company’s experiencing growth.
  • The company recently laid-off or fired someone.
  • An employee recently left the company voluntarily.
  • The company couldn’t find someone from within to promote and fill a necessary position.

Whatever the case may be (although it’ll be to your benefit to identify which scenario suits your situation), if there’s a vacant position, the company’s looking for something they don’t yet have.

The job description is a good place to start to figure out what exactly your potential employer needs, but to gain a better understanding, conduct thorough research and look at resources besides the company’s “About Us” page. If you’ve done your research right, you should be able to describe without referring to notes:

  • The current status of the company,
  • How it’s fairing against its competitors,
  • What it hopes to achieve in the short- and long-term, and
  • What it needs to attain its goals.

Armed with this information, you will have the conversation points and confidence to effectively explain what the company needs and why you’re the best candidate for the position.

They Know it’s Not About Them

There’s more to selling than giving a great sales pitch. Successful salespeople are usually those who express empathy for their customers and a desire to solve their problems, who recommend features of products or services that will benefit the consumer. The best way to get people’s attention is to tell them what you can do for them. Likewise, the job seekers who shift their focus to the company tend to move further along the hiring process.

As the cartoon featured on this post suggests, you need to make clear the unique selling point that sets you apart from the competition who are equally qualified (although, we do not advise publicizing such unprofessional skills on your résumé!). This is where most job candidates flounder and flop when responding to questions such as “Why should I hire you?” Check out the following examples (written from the perspective of a web developer represented by our Open Source & Mobile Technologies Team) of how not to respond and why:

  • “I think I could do the job really well and be a great addition to the web development team and company.” – “I think” comes across as self-doubt that you can fulfill the job requirements. Be assertive!
  • “You should hire me because of my computer science education and web development experience.” – This statement is applicable to the majority of candidates. Differentiate yourself from other candidates by describing in detail how you’d provide a higher ROI to the company. Avoid repeating your résumé verbatim and instead provide new information or more in-depth explanations of your achievements. Simply listing your skills, experience, and accomplishments and not expanding on them implies that you haven’t given enough thought as to how you would be valuable in the specific position and organization you’re interviewing for.
  • “I’m a dedicated and perseverant team player, learn languages quickly, and work hard.” – These are claims that anyone can make and are difficult to prove. Provide evidence and specific examples! For instance, you can discuss how learning the latest programming languages such as Ruby on Rails, Python, and Golang, in your free time enables you to contribute new, fresh ideas for additional web app features – then talk about the company’s current software suite and how you would improve them.
  • “I really would like to work for your company, and truly believe in what you’re doing and that I’m a great fit. As you can see from my résumé and coding tests, I have all of the skills you require, and can do the job.” – Again, provide examples that demonstrate your functional fit and describe exactly how you would contribute to the company. Some questions to consider: Why exactly are you interested in the company? What goals and values do you and the company share? What do you hope to contribute to the company? What can you do beyond your job description?

Avoid these pitfalls with responses that reflect the intel you’ve gathered on your potential employer. Provide concrete examples of how you’d fulfill the job requirements and help the company achieve its goals. Talk about the results you’d obtain using which of your skills, abilities, and experiences. Remember, this is your opportunity to sell you, the product that is the solution to the company’s needs.

Remember: Ask not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company. Then, sell yourself as the solution. Address their needs by tailoring your skills and experiences to align with the position’s responsibilities and the organization’s needs and goals. By doing so, you give them a vivid picture of what they could achieve if they hired you, and you can successfully close the sale!

Blogging Forward,

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Image Credit: Randy Glasbergen