There are a few interview questions out there that make candidates feel particularly nervous. Notorious amongst them is the frequently asked “why should we hire you?”

When a potential employer asks you this question they are trying to find out a few different things: they want to know who you are, what you can bring to the table, and what sets you apart from other candidates. Based on your answers they can get a clear view of whether you possess some of the vital skills and characteristics that they are looking for in their ideal candidate.

Besides enabling the employer to assess your skillset, your answers will also give them an idea of your level of self-awareness and your knowledge and understanding of the position you are trying to fill.

Here are some things to consider when answering the dreaded ‘why you’ question:

1. Who are you
Besides getting a rough understanding of your skills and experience, employers will also be looking to find out more about your personality. This is your chance to highlight some of the key characteristics and assets you think will impress your employer. However, make sure you know what they are looking for first. Before your interview, go back to the job listing, see what characteristics are highlighted or try to deduce relevant assets from the description, and flag the ones you think you possess. Relay these to the interviewer and make a clear connection between the type of person you are and the type of person the role requires.

This is also a great opportunity to convey your enthusiasm about the job. Identifying the things you are passionate about that are relevant to the role conveys genuine interest, which will not go unnoticed.

2. What can you bring to the table
This is the part where you refer to relevant skills and experience, with the emphasis on relevant. Simply drumming up a list of skills you claim to possess won’t impress the interviewer, nor will it offer them with any valuable information about you.

So carefully choose the skills you want to highlight, and make sure you refer back to the job description to show you have a clear understanding of what the job entails. You should also refer to comments made by the employer earlier in the interview. It demonstrates that you are engaged and aware, and will encourage a more relaxed, conversational style interview.

3. What sets you apart from others
With all your reasons for why they should hire you, make sure you provide evidence in the form of anecdotes, detailed examples and past achievements. Be able to tell a good story and show that you’ve really thought it through. What will also set you apart is a clear understanding of what the organisation does: know their culture, their values, their customers, their products and be clear about why you are such a good fit.

Given the amount of information interviewers are looking to get out of this question, having a well-formed and carefully thought-out response at the ready is vital to making a good impression. And the better prepared you are, the less scary answering this question will prove to be.

Reference: Abintegro; Metro; Monster
04 May 2017
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