This is how to answer ‘why should we hire you?’ (according to experts)

If you’ve followed along with our past blog posts, you’ll notice that we’ve posted a bunch of useful roundups of interview questions that are incredibly helpful for anyone who’s in the middle of their job search – from 40 example interview questions most hiring managers want you to ask them, additional interview questions that you definitely should be asking when you’re being interviewed (but most people aren’t!), questions to ask about company culturequestions to ask your future boss, and even really weird and unusual interview questions that companies have actually asked (part 1 and part 2).

This time we wanted to directly tackle one of, by far, the most popular interview questions that commonly pops up and provide a guide on how you should be answering it. That question is:

“Why should we hire you?”

To be fair, this question isn’t ALWAYS asked.

Every company has it’s own unique interview process that may or may not include multiple interviewers, very general or very specific interview questions, expected or unexpected questions, a lot of time out of your day or very little.

But rest assured that even if a company doesn’t end up literally asking “why should we hire you”, they are still expecting you to resolve that question for them in their minds by the end of the interview.

To help you know what to say / what to do when you get hit with the “why should we hire you” question, here are 18 company representatives who have a LOT of knowledge about interviewing (from the company perspective) sharing their thoughts on how you should be responding – based on what they or their companies actually want to hear:

How to answer “why should we hire you?” according to the interviewers who are asking it:

“As a recruiter, I spend a significant part of my day chatting with prospective employees, and I receive a wide array of colorful, unique, and interesting answers. The question, Why should I hire you, is a loaded one, and with it, you’ll get a loaded answer. Most of the answers that follow sound something like, I’m a hardworking person who enjoys a challenging and rewarding work environment where I can develop my strengths and weaknesses. I truly believe I can be an asset to your team. However, it’s important to make sure that this answer doesn’t sound rehearsed; try to bring something different and more personal to the table here.

As a recruiter, it’s refreshing to hear something like, I’m very interested in expanding my knowledge and being part of an awesome team. Helping companies develop and moving things in the right direction has always been a passion of mine. I bring a smile, motivation, and positive energy everywhere I go, and the workplace is no exception. You’ll find me ready to get my hands dirty and happy to start something new and exciting. Nailed it.

Questions that provide the interviewee a break from the standards about professional and academic experience will give you insight into why you should or shouldn’t hire them before you even ask. What are you passionate about and What is it that motivates you in your personal life are great ways to break the ice and learn something unique about the person on the other end of the interview. If you ask the right questions during the interview, you don’t need to ask the heavy, Why should I hire you?, and you’ll already know whether or not they’ll be a great fit.”

— Dave Lopes, Director of Recruiting at Badger Maps 

“As a hiring manager, my intention is to get to know if the candidate is a great fit to the job or not. By this, I’d like to know his previous achievements in the domain and check whether he has the right skills required to perform the job excellently. From his answers, we’ll also get to know if he has got the right aptitude & attitude to work with the team or not, if he’s open to criticism & learning or not which would help us assess the candidate’s capability for the job. What I or any other hiring manager wouldn’t want to know is the entire history & personal information of the candidate that which wouldn’t make any sense to the job he’s applied for.”

— Ujwal Surampalli, Chief – Talent Acquisition of Interview Buddy™ 

“I want to hear why your skill set, personality and the special magic you bring will make such a material difference for my company. Demonstrate that you understand the problem this position solves and why you are such a good fit. What isn’t helpful and is a pretty big turn-off to me is when candidates say “my experience.” That is a pretty vague answer and does not reflect the depth of what you bring to the table. You need to be able to vocalize what your past taught you and how you are going to apply that to this job you are applying to.”

— Cory Bowline, Director of Marketing at Red Canary 

“As a hiring manager I’ve used the question ‘Why should I hire you?’ as a way to see whether the candidate gets uncomfortable bragging about themselves while attempting to make it seem like they are not bragging. Some candidates squirm throughout the response, and others are overly confident. It seems most responses result in a list of top attributes the candidate thinks are appropriate for the role linked with personal experience to back up the listed attributes. The response aims to give the impression that I have done this before, have been successful at it, and therefore I will be successful at your company too. This type of answer is expected by the interviewer and can be very strong if articulated succinctly.

A stronger response goes beyond this by getting the interviewer thinking – The candidate’s response was relevant but really funny or This candidate really connects with the company’s philosophical approach or This response has opened my imagination on what is possible with this candidate in the future. How do you get the interviewer thinking these things? That part is up to you. But if you succeed, you’ll certainly stand out.”

— Brandon Woolf, People Operations for MX 

“My hands down favorite answer is “This is my dream job.” We’re looking for job candidates who have a passion for the work we do. They aren’t just looking for a job, they’re looking to take further steps in the career of their dreams.”

— Danica Kombol, CEO of Everywhere Agency 

“If anyone was to ask what are the top three more challenging questions to answer during an interview, “why should I hire you?” will be on that short list, along with what do you consider your strengths? And what do you consider your weaknesses? Not because it’s a question interviewees don’t expect to be asked, but because they are often not confident or clear about who they are and what they bring to the table that would be of value to the company. With that in mind no two individuals will have the exact same approach to answering that question; however, there are three suggestions offered below on an approach to take when you are in the hot seat:

1. Reiterate the specific skills and knowledge you have that directly correlates with the responsibility of the position

2. Offer a scenario of how if those skills can be applied and how they directly offer solution to a problem or challenge shared during the interview discussion

3. Communicate an innovative approach to creating a greater efficiency that can save the company time and money

Incorporating those three components, positions the candidate for greater success in making a lasting impression upon the interviewer to take notice and consider filling the position with you.”

— Delmar Johnson, HR Consultant 

“ ‘Why should I hire you?’ may never be directly asked [in our company’s interviews], but it’s always implied. You are telling us why we should hire you as soon as you walk into our office. I want to see engagement in your demeanor, I want you to ask questions about our company and our work, demonstrate that curiosity and uniqueness that was the reason behind calling you in for an interview in the first place.

If I ask a candidate why I should hire them directly – they should tell me they are willing to put in the work, are excited about our business model, and want to continue to grow in their role.

You might look awesome on paper, but if you can’t express those qualities in-person, with your attitude and your actions, it’s not going to work out.”

— Tiffany Ewigleben, Director of Content Strategy & Growth at Beckett Industries 

“As a CTO in the near past and an advisor on recruitment of IT personnel at present, when recruiting I want to know that the candidate is truly into what the company does, is capable of getting the work done, and can work well with the rest of the team.

I believe that, as a candidate, your chances are much higher if you did your research on the company and the position, and can explain how your previous experience or personal skills can benefit the company.

I don’t like asking candidates Why Should I Hire You?, but if I did, an answer that would get my attention could be: Although I have no experience in development and I only just finished a development course, I am keen to learn and dedicate my time and effort to become a great developer in the shortest time possible. I am hard working, fast learning and super motivated, and from volunteering as a firefighter I know that I can work under pressure in very complex situations. Of course that to be a firefighter you also have to be a team player and know how accept authority. I read about your company and I think your idea of creating apps for zoo animals is great – I too always thought the animals there looked bored. So, going back to your question, you should hire me because I don’t see this as a job, but as an opportunity to change the lives of millions of zoo animals worldwide, and I will do anything I can do to make this project a success.”

— Oliver Kraus, Owner and Technology Consultant at Rocket Surgeon 

“I look for an answer that appears to be genuine. Not a canned response. If I suspect the response is canned I keep asking why else, Until I get a genuine response.

The most genuine response I ever got was because if you don’t hire me I will be evicted because I am so far behind on my rent.

However, what I do also expect is for the candidate to toot their own horn. This is a time for them to tell me how great they are without bragging.”

— Jeff Riyasat, President of I.T. Revive 

“Prior to becoming a management professor, for more than a decade I was an operations manager who interviewed, hired and trained several hundred employees.
Employers are generally looking for the best fit that they can find after considering the characteristics of the candidate, the job, the work team, and the organization’s overall mission, philosophy, culture — and the customers it seeks to serve. In essence, they are trying to complete an organizational jigsaw puzzle, and there’s a missing piece that must be found. However, only certain pieces will fit properly.

So when asked, Why should we hire *you?*, potential employers want to know what *YOU* can deliver (in terms of education, experience, skills, abilities, talents, interests, attitudes, or aspirations) that might uniquely match their specific requirements for the position under consideration. Since this question is often posed toward the end of a
face-to-face interview, throughout the hiring process, learn as much as possible about the company (and its culture), its industry, its customers, your potential colleagues, and the specific requirements of the job. (A company’s website is often a good starting point, and a significant amount of background reading and research should be done to prepare yourself for the actual interview process.) With that knowledge, you can convince an employer that you can truly fulfill its needs. Remember: the employer is trying to solve a problem; so you need to be perceived as the *solution*!”

— Timothy G. Wiedman, D.B.A., Former Associate Prof. of Management & Human Resources of Doane University

“When a recruiter asks this question, it’s really the break it or make it moment. A good answer will likely secure your place among the most likely candidates; a weak answer will earn you a polite automated message.

What makes a response a good, strong one?

– Confidence without boasting

– Show of how the candidate will be an *asset* to the firm

– Including a brief personal example of success

– Tailoring the answer in such a way as to show intimate knowledge of the brand. For instance, my PR firm’s slogan is Championing the Underdogs since 2006. So some mention of experience working with smaller clients and startups, or what they can do to turn small fries into big kahunas is always a plus.”

— Alexis Chateau, Founder and Managing Partner at Alexis Chateau PR 

“When asking this question, the perfect candidate would give me a response that really shows how they are going to match the position and meet the requirements. They would have done their research prior to our meeting to really show they are knowledgeable about what we do. However, given that they have done their research, it is important that the perfect candidate does not come across as too cocky. It’s okay for the candidate to ask me for clarification on certain points so they are better able to answer the question (just as long as they are not reliant on me giving clarification).”

— Eric Bowen, Digital Marketing Coordinator at BroadbandSearch

“I want to hear a brief summary of themselves and their experiences, highlight their abilities that are related to the job. I also want to see if they did their homework, researched my company, being well prepared. Keeping the answers concise, matching their qualifications to the job listing, with a blend of uniqueness.”

— Vu Tong, Project Manager at Cocoweb 

“When an employer asks this question, they want to be ‘sold’. Every candidate should have an answer to the question before the interview, but should also be quick enough to revise the answer, based on information you were given during the interview.

Everyone has something that makes them unique and sets them apart from others. It’s a candidates job to know what this unique trait is, and be able to sell it during an interview. For example, a recent client was preparing with me before an interview with a large, international investment firm. He was having trouble coming up with an answer to this particular question. After talking with him and asking a lot of questions, I learned that he spoke seven languages and has traveled to 22 countries. Being multi-lingual and deeply familiar with other customs and cultures not only was very unique from every other candidate, but it was very attractive to a company who deals with the global economy. That was his hook. The company loved it and after two more interviews, he was offered the job.

Sure, not everyone has something as big as seven languages under their belt, but you still have something. Maybe it’s an unusual job in your career history that exposed you to a different clientele or required unusual skills. Capitalize on that! Even if your answer is a little odd, it’s better than no answer.”

— Lauren Milligan, Career Advancement Coach, CEO & Founder of ResuMAYDAY

“In response to ‘Why Should I Hire You?’, there are no magic words that I or the interviewers I coach expect, but instead we are always pleased when the candidate’s reply expresses that…

*That they have researched and love the history and the culture of the company they are applying to.*

Lots of people don’t go past the company name and position. That’s really disheartening for a recruiter. When employees say that they would be a good fit, that’s just talk. When they explain WHY they would be a good fit, revealing knowledge of the company, that’s a winner.”

— Luis Magalhães, Remote Executive Coach at Distant Job  

“You should try and project yourself as a good match for your job profile and the company. You need to articulate the value that you will bring to the job and to your team/company. For example, if you’re interviewing for a Financial Analyst role, talk about your expertise and knowledge of tools/databases that would make you a better-skilled candidate and you would be able to hit the road with minimum training. Also, talk about the additional skills that you can bring to the table. For example, if you are good with soft skills and communication, you can talk about how you can also train other people in the team.”

— Sumit Bansal, Founder of Productivity Spot 

“When I ask a job candidate ‘Why Should I Hire You?’, I want to hear them express how they would be an asset to the company by referring to past, tangible experiences and accomplishments, rather than only using the standard, overused interview words (as I like to call them) to describe themselves such as hard-working, self-motivated, and team-player, etc. These attributes are important and should be pointed out; however, employers hear this from almost every candidate, and it’s frankly one’s own, biased opinion of oneself. It’s important for the candidate to follow this up with real examples. This is a key opportunity for the candidate to separate him or herself from other candidates and stand out.

Also, when answering this question, I like to hear the candidate incorporate their potential role with the company into their answer. This shows me A) they’ve done their homework on the company, B) they were genuinely paying attention during the interview, and/or C) they’re aware of the importance of how they specifically can benefit the company, and not just how the company can benefit them.”

— Cory Collins, President/CEO of Ample Opportunity, Inc

“I just interviewed several good candidates ended up with two people to choose from. I could have gone either way on them so I asked the last one why I should chose them. I told her this is her opportunity to tell me why choosing her over someone else is the best decision and made it clear that I had two equally qualified candidates.

I was hoping to see a little fire in her belly, a little fight for the position and instead she gave an underwhelming answer lacking any passion. If she would have raised her voice the slightest bit and spoken in a confident tone when she explained why I should hire her, I would have hired her on the spot. I find that people obsess more about what they say than how they say it. How candidates speak sways me far more than what they are saying. When they speak with confidence at just the right volume and show passion when appropriate, I begin to believe in them regardless of the words they use.”

— Emily LaRusch, CEO & Founder of Back Office Betties 

Linda Le Phan is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu US, a place where job seekers can get an authentic view of life at a company and where employers have a trusted platform to better engage talent. When she’s not creating content about the modern workplace, company culture, and life & work hacks, she is probably going out to get an iced coffee (even in Boston winter), raiding the snack drawer, or jamming to kununu’s Spotify playlist.

This article first appeared on Kununu.