Jan 22, 2019 2:37 PM

How to Answer the Question "Why Should We Hire You?"

Correct preparation can help interviewees manage the inevitable stress

There are two or three questions you're almost guaranteed to hear at a job interview, and one of them is "With all the talented candidates we're going to meet, why should we hire you?"

It's an awful question to ask a job-seeker. The question "Why should we hire you?" is the kind of question that asks a job-seeker to grovel and beg for a job.

How could I, not having met the other people you're interviewing for the job and never having worked here before, possibly know why you should hire me, rather than one of the other candidates? Interviewers ask this idiotic question because it's on their script and because they've never thought about the standard interview script before.

Job-seekers give equally thoughtless and scripted answers like like "Because I'm smart and hard-working" or "Because I've got a great track record in this field" or some other rot.

I don't blame job-seekers for giving these sheepie answers to the obnoxious question "Why should we hire you?"

After all, these are the answers job-seekers have been trained to give. Our clients tell us "The interviewer asked me 'Why should we hire you?' and I told him they should hire me because I love this kind of work, I'm a hard worker and I'm really good at what I do. I felt like I had to take a shower when I got home. I hate myself for being so mewly and gross!"

Everyone has fallen into the standard interview script at some point or another. There's nothing like sitting in a room and watching in horror as words you don't believe and that don't even sound like you come spilling out of your mouth, as though an evil spirit had taken over your lips, teeth, tongue and vocal cords.

Human beings spend a lot of time in Script World. We know the standard scripts. Now we have to learn new scripts, so that we don't fall into the traditional "Please hire me, your Majesty!" script and fall out of our bodies.

It happened to me. I saw how powerfully the scripts have taken hold of us, even without our awareness. It happened at a media training day that U.S. Robotics sent me to, along with a few other executives.

They wanted us ready in case we had to be on TV at some point. "This will be a snap," I told myself walking into the media training session."I've been on stage since I was five."

No such luck! I fumbled my first videotaped interview badly. We spent ten minutes planning the interview. The PR guy from Hill and Knowlton asked me "What's the biggest point you want to get across in your interview?"

We were pretending that our company had been raided by the immigration folks, who found a bunch of people working in the country unlawfully among our employee population. That wouldn't have happened in real life, because we were scrupulous about documentation.

But some other bad thing conceivably could have taken place. We were using the immigration raid and subsequent PR crisis (this company hires illegal workers!) as a placeholder for any HR-type PR issue.

My must-get-across point was "Our company is committed to following the laws in every state and country where we operate." It was a simple message! I did the first video interview, answered all the guy's questions and breathed a sigh of relief when it was over.Nothing horrible had happened, and the interview was done! We looked at the tape.

"What happened to your must-get-across message?" the trainer asked me. "Oh shoot," I said. "How could I leave that out? I'm an idiot."

"No, you're not," said the PR trainer. "Everyone does that. It's so nice to get through the interview without being put on the spot that most people let the interviewer lead them. They go with the flow. You didn't get your point across."

Of course, the trainer was right. I realized that I had fallen into the script. It's so, so easy to do that! The trouble is, if you answer the question "Why should we hire you?" with a standard, grovelly answer, you won't just hate yourself in the morning. You won't make any impression on the interviewer, either.

All job-seekers give the same, lame answers to the question "Why should we hire you?" As they speak, they disappear into the chair. They say nothing that every other candidate hasn't already said, and worse, they aren't true to themselves. Who gets hired, in the end? It's the person who knows who he or she is. You can give a more forthright and human answer to the question "Why should we hire you?"

INTERVIEWER: So, we have a lot of people to interview. With all those people wanting this job, why should we give it to you?

YOU: That's a great question. It's really the reason we're here today, isn't it? You're going to be looking at each interview, I imagine, as a way to determine which candidate 'gets' your situation the best. You're going to be looking for fit, an intangible thing. I'm doing the same thing, of course. I'm looking at the same fit from my perspective.

Taking your question literally, I can't say you should hire me over another candidate, because I don't know enough yet about exactly what you need and how you work here, and needless to say, I won't have the opportunity to meet the other candidates. I have total confidence in you, me and the universe to guide all of us to the right answer.

INTERVIEWER: :Wow! Never thought of it that way before. Really interesting perspective!

Will you get the job? You got me. Do you want the job? Every reaction you get to every interview answer you give is another clue to the culture of the organization you're thinking about joining.

If an interviewer doesn't like your answer, and doesn't like it so much that he or she would bounce you from the process as a result, isn't that a good thing?

Isn't it a great thing, to be guided toward the people who will get you and away from the ones who never, ever will?

Isn't that what we want the universe to do for us - to guide us along our path? You can help that process by speaking with your own voice at your next job interview and every one after that.




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