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Sunday
May082016

18. Interview answers: How to answer "Why should we hire you"?

Answers for job interview questions are not easy to predict. This is because every job interview, applicant and job is different. In particular all your interview answers will have to reflect the nuances that flavour the questions you are asked.

Interview answers tip 1: Listen to the question carefully

My first tip for your interview answers is to listen very carefully to what you are asked.

For example, at the opening of an interview, you may be asked a general question. It could be, "Why should we hire you?", or "Why should we choose you over the other applicants?" or "Why do you want this job?".

The interview answers the panel want may be similar for each of these questions but there are subtle differences in the questions that you must consider.

Interview answers tip 2: Prepare general content

In your preparation for a job interview, rather than having a word-for word script to answer "Why should we hire you?" you may find it more helpful to prepare general principles that could apply no matter how the question is framed.

This is not to say that in your preparation for a job interview that you don't practise detailed interview answers. This is a key part of preparation. However, this is not the only preparation to do.

I will always remember one client to whom I was providing interview coaching in Sydney. She was adamant that she wanted to prepare scripted word-by-word interview answers to a whole series of questions that she had anticipated would be asked. She refused to listen to my recommendations that in addition she identified key strengths she could weave into her interview answers. Guess what? She failed the interview. She was asked interview questions on financial management that she had not anticipated and was thrown by them.

Interview answers tip 3: Prepare your strengths

When you are formulating your answers for job interview questions you need to take into account many variables.

Even if you have prepared an answer to a question prior to the interview a set script may not work if the question isn't exactly word-for-word as you predicted it.

Therefore, also prepare an explanation of your strengths and a matching set of behavioural examples which are compelling and prove that these are your strengths.

I recommend in my interview coaching that people prepare to describe 10 strengths. Then when they are in the interview and they get an unexpected question, they can select relevant strengths to include in their interview answers.

Interview answers tip 4: Why should we hire you?

Here are some key guidelines in answering this interview question.

  1. The exact wording of your interview answers will depend upon the type of job, the level of the job, your experience, the subtleties that they've incorporated into the question, your strengths, what you know about the job, the essential criteria, the time in the interview when the question is asked, and so on. 
  2. Explain the benefit to them of employing you and your value to the organisation in the future. I can't emphasise enough how much an interview is about the organisation, not about the applicant!
  3. Select 3 of your specific strengths or examples, and explain how good a fit they are for the position.
  4. Explain what it is about the position and the organisation that attracted you to it.
  5. Do not waffle about your general personality traits. 
  6. Be flexible. Some job interviews have a time limit on the interview answers. I have known this to vary from as little as two minutes to as much as thirty. Again, this is why a set script can limit you or freeze you when you're preparing answers to job interview questions, unless of course, you are fortunate enough to know the time restrictions in advance.

Preparation for a job interview is essential. When formulating your interview answers be flexible so that your answers can cope with the unexpected.

If you need help, interview coaching is available online. This means it is available whether you're in Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Adelaide, Melbourne or Hobart, or elsewhere in Australia. In Western Australia face-to-face interview coaching is available.