This is a critical question because it will show your success, self-confidence, and preparation.
Employers take this question very seriously, and you should, too.
In this answer, do double-time by selling yourself and by demonstrating your knowledge of the company.
Start by doing your homework on the employer before the interview, even if it is "only" a telephone interview.
That research will likely include visiting their website, Googling their name, and performing an advanced search on LinkedIn long before you ever find yourself in the interview!
Bad Answers to This Question
An answer that focuses on the benefits to you is a bad answer. So, answers like:
- I need the money.
- I need a job.
- This location is very close to where I live (or go to school or want to move or whatever).
- I've always been interested in (whatever they do).
As important as those reasons are to you, they are not the reasons the employer will hire you. Frankly, nice as they might be, they really don't care about the benefits to you if they hire you.
Your answer to this question should focus on them, not on you! You are the seller in this situation, not the buyer. So, you need to focus on the benefits (more than one!) to this buyer.
Remember that the goal here is to entice this employer to offer you this job.
Connect the Dots Between the Job Requirements and Your Qualifications
Do a careful analysis of the job's requirements so you know the requirements you meet, the requirements you exceed, and the requirements you don't meet.
In today's job market (2019), employers reportedly find candidates who are a 50 percent "fit" with the job's specifications to be acceptable, although they prefer candidates who exceed the requirements. The best strategy is to analyze the job and your fit with it before applying.
Emphasize Your Knowledge and Experience to Demonstrate Your Value
Embrace that this question as an opportunity to emphasize your value and to demonstrate your knowledge as they work together to show how well you could do the job.
For example, someone applying for a position as an administrative assistant might say:
"I have been using Word, Excel, and Outlook since 2001 to maintain both financial and administrative records, create and distribute internal reports for management to monitor employee activity and asset usage which was received by 4 senior managers including the CEO and COO, and create and distribute the internal organizational newsletter which was sent to over 200 staff members twice a month.
"The financial reports were created and maintained using Excel, and both newsletters were written using Microsoft Word, using templates that I developed, and distributed using Outlook.
"I have taken several workshops on Microsoft Office products, and have worked with the newest version and previous versions, going back to the 1997 version. So, I am very comfortable with the Microsoft Office suite of products."
Or, in a more traditional situation, here’s what you might prepare to say as a new graduate of a medical transcription training program applying for a job with a cardiology practice:
"I believe that I will be successful in this position because I have 900 hours of hands-on training in medical transcription in a classroom environment at the XYZ Institute.
(Get out your portfolio, and open it to a print out of a sample of your work). "Here you can see several examples of medical records, dictation, and reports I have produced in MS Word.
"I have also excelled in my terminology courses, gaining a strong base in numerous disciplines.
"However, I have always been interested in Cardiology and made it a personal goal to focus on that area. Because of that, I read the Journal of Cardiology to stay up-to-date with changes in the field, names of new pharmaceuticals, and other innovations.
"I have an excellent basis in the discipline to transcribe the records of your Cardiologists with ease. Also, I recently joined the American Association of Medical Transcriptionists and am already taking steps to pursue certification."
When I share answers like this, most people react by saying, "That’s so good; I could’t do that." But, that’s not true - crafting answers like this is just getting to know yourself in advance.
You need to plan to answer questions about why you are qualified and know how to sell yourself above the other applicants.
Realize that you may have the same skillset as other applicants, but much of job interview success revolves around who does the best job at communicating their expertise in the interview!
So, spend some time doing the following:
- Listing your skills and strengths.
- Writing CAR stories (Challenges, Actions, and Results) about accomplishments for each of your jobs.
- Documenting your accomplishments.
- Uncovering what makes you special by reviewing letters of recommendation and/or other testimonials you may have from work, school, and volunteering.
- Writing down concrete answers to questions like this that give a concrete example to prove you fit the bill!
By making getting hired your job and putting in the time to prepare, you can successfully and confidently answer an employer when they ask, "Why should we hire you?" Go get ‘em!