While dreaded by many job seekers, “Why should we hire you?” remains a top interview question. You can ace your answer with a little advance preparation.

Fulfilling Their Needs

First, consider the intent behind the question. Your answers and behavior during an interview might not fully reveal your depth of knowledge or work ethic. The interviewer wants to uncover how you will add value to the company and dimension to the team. This is your opportunity to showcase a few of your career’s shining moments to demonstrate what sets you apart.

Prepare Your Promo Piece

You’ve heard of an elevator pitch – that snappy self-promo outlining your best traits. Now is the time to prepare yours. You need to assure your interviewer that you have the expertise and determination to help the company achieve its goals.

Study the original job posting for clues, then pick three or four qualifications that can best illustrate your strengths. Research the company’s mission and objectives to help narrow your focus.

What to Include

Whatever qualities you choose to feature, support your claims with examples that link some of your past achievements with the skills and experiences they see as key to the role. As you brainstorm your “highlight reel,” consider what qualifies as success in your current field, including:

  • Awards or bonuses for your contribution to a project.
  • Facts and figures supporting how you improved a situation and provided value, from increased sales, web traffic, or sponsorships to upgraded office efficiencies, streamlined production, or better customer service.
  • Testimonials from customers or kudos from managers. Examples of your dedication and superior customer service may sway the balance in jobs that require good people skills.
  • Relevant talents or abilities that the interviewer hasn’t asked about.

You also may want to mention what recruiters call “soft skills,” especially if you’re just starting out or changing careers. Most job descriptions include a laundry list of attributes the company believes are important in their ideal new hire. You undoubtedly possess a few of those skills. But don’t just claim you are a self-starter, team player, or strategic thinker, tell the interviewer about a time you put that skill into action.

Wind Up for the Pitch

You’ve got your examples; now put your thoughts in logical order. Remember, an elevator pitch is meant to be tantalizing, enlightening, and brief – about one minute in length.

Don’t wing it. Convincing an interviewer that you’re their ideal job candidate – while sounding confident and sincere – will take preparation and practice.

Rehearse your response out loud, ideally in front of a mirror so that you can study your facial expressions. Time your answer and edit as necessary, but don’t memorize it word for word. You want to sound authentic and self-assured, so remember the high points, but let the words come naturally.

With forethought and planning, you can clear the “why should we hire you?” hurdle and propel yourself into your next dream job.

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