By Joe Stein
This open-ended question should generate excitement in a savvy Job Seeker. The reason for this reaction is that this question provides an opportunity for you to sell yourself to the Interviewer.
The question can be asked in several ways such as “How Can You Help the Company” to the classic “Why Should I Hire You”. Regardless of how it is asked, look at the question as a tremendous opportunity to seize temporary control of the interview on your behalf.
Why Is It Asked?
· Provides Additional Information on What You Have Done In the Past – Perhaps during the interview something has not already been covered. This provides an opportunity to tie up any loose ends while giving a final chance to provide information.
· Allows the Interviewer to Gather His or Her Thoughts – Admittedly sometimes this question has no other motive but to allow the Interviewer to gather his or her thoughts before moving forward. It may provide them the opportunity to prepare the follow-up questions that will come after your answer.
· Gauge Confidence – A Hiring Manager would like to see in a Job Seeker the confidence that they expect to be successful in the position. This is their way to gauge whether you are comfortable with what you have achieved and confident of your potential success with the role you are seeking.
· Assess Understanding – This answer helps an Interviewer assess your processing skills and whether you have been able to understand what is important in this role. Even more important is whether you understand the role at a high enough level to begin to match your skills and experience to it.
How Should It Be Answered?
· Make the Connection – At this point you should have a basic knowledge of what will be required in the position. Directly tie your experience and attributes to what will be needed to be successful in this role. Stress how you will add value to the organization. State how you expect to add dividends early in your tenure.
· Give Examples – People respond better if they can visualize a picture in their heads. Inform the Hiring Manager on how you have done “x” in the past and how you can have the same impact with this company. Most people like to hear positive numbers or metrics, so use relevant statistical data whether it is sales over quota or productivity over standard to sell your point.
· Hammer Home a Hot Point – Typically during the course of an interview, clues will be given regarding what is important to the Hiring Manager. A savvy Job Seeker will be on the alert regarding these clues and add detail to his or her answer targeting this “Hot Point” area.
· Close Strong – When you are done with your answer, you want the Interviewer to know you are the right person. Make sure the final message you convey is positive and will stay in the mind of the Hiring Manager until his or her hiring decision.
What Not To Do:
· Become Arrogant – This is not the time to become boastful, but rather it is a wonderful opportunity to reiterate your positive attributes in a professional way.
· Stretch the Truth – An experienced Interviewer will know when you are spinning a yarn to make yourself out to be someone you are not. If you begin to state skills or experiences that are not listed on the resume and seem out of the ordinary, expect either follow-up questions or (even worse) an immediate loss of credibility.
· Criticize the Organization – It is very tempting to state your value by specifically linking it to what the organization does not have or does not do. This is different than my recommendation of connecting it to what they need. Let the organization make the call regarding what they are looking for and you follow with your answer. A Hiring Manager may become offended if you point out all of their deficiencies and how you are available to solve all these problems that they can’t resolve themselves. As we mentioned prior, arrogance is not a virtue in this situation.
· Become Long-Winded – Focus on your actions and applicable yet specific examples. Do not fall into the trap of providing long-winded narrative or telling a story. The Interviewer will lose interest quickly and begin to question your oral communication skills.
· Don’t Just Rely on Experience – It is not enough to just state that you have done the job before or even performed it for a long time. This type of answer does not overwhelm the Hiring Manager with a vision that you are a high achiever who will add value. If you are going to use the experience card, do so by stating what those years will bring to the organization.
Like with most interview questions, a little preparation can go a long way. Anticipate this question ahead of time and create an answer that will speak positively about your candidacy and allow you to differentiate yourself from the competition.
As always, best of luck in your job search.