One of them is "Why should we hire you?" — and candidates should always come prepared with an answer.
As a career coach with 20-plus years of hiring and recruiting experience, I've seen so many people give the same boring responses to this question — ones that are either overly confident yet vague (e.g., "I'm the best at what I do and my bosses love me...") or are too humble yet timid (e.g., "While this job may require more experience than I have, I think I'm a pretty fast learner...").
The most impressive candidates leave a lasting impression by doing these three things when crafting their answer:
1. Be specific about key strengths and qualifications.
Just because you shine in a dozen different areas doesn't mean you should talk about all of them.
You don't want to give a 10-minute sales pitch, so be picky with what you choose to highlight. Closely study the job description and point out just two or three of the most important skills required for the position.
2. Give an example for each skill.
You can't just stop after saying, "I'm really good at [X], [Y] and [Z]."
Make your relevant skills shine by providing a quick story or example for each. Because sure, you may be good at managing people, but how did you successfully demonstrate that in a previous job?
3. Find the balance between confidence and humility.
Whatever you do, avoid coming off as too cocky. Balance your words with self-confidence and genuine humility. Your hiring manager wants to know that you're grounded and will work well with other people.
The best — and most likeable employees — are not egotistical or self-serving. They have a true desire to make a powerful, constructive difference at their company.
1.) "You mentioned that you're looking for someone who can manage up to five people, and who has a solid understanding of social media marketing. I've had more than six years of experience as a marketing manager, leading teams of up to seven or more. My goal is to always listen to people about what they need to do their jobs. In my previous roles, I've been able to motivate my teams to meet and surpass quarterly expectations. I also have a strong background in social media marketing. Last year, I led the launch of a huge campaign that grew our social media following by 2,000%."
Why it works: This candidate did a great job providing details about their experience, accomplishments and key qualifications for the role. They also gave quick examples of the strengths that the employer is looking for.
2.) "Based on the job description, it sounds like you need someone with strong communication skills and experience working with big-name clients. In my previous roles, I brought on multiple Fortune 500 companies — who all remained loyal customers for years. I really believe that the key to doing that is being a good communicator, and always being available and transparent. And, if hired, I have a rolodex of great contacts who we could pitch to."
Why it works: This response not only details the candidate's key strengths, but it gives insight into their philosophy on how to successfully win clients. They also touch on how their connections can bring even more value and business to the company.
3. "I know you probably have tons of highly qualified candidates to choose from. And while I'm far from perfect, I believe I'll exceed expectations in this role not just because I have a track record in boosting sales and coming up with creative marketing strategies, but I have strong people skills. My previous manager even asked me to give presentations to our entire company about how to be more personable and emotionally connect with clients in a way that makes our services more appealing."
Why it works: This candidate started out with a very humble statement by acknowledging that there are several people who can do the job. However, they go on to explain what makes them unique from the rest: their emotional intelligence, which happens to be one of the most important skills employers look for today.
In an effort to stand out while pitching why they should be hired, job seekers often convince themselves that they have to make these bold statements.
But impressing a hiring manager isn't about being boisterous. It's really about showing them you've given serious thought about what your best qualities are, why they make you unique, and how you plan to use them to add value and fit into the company culture.
J.T. O'Donnell is the founder and CEO of Work It Daily, an online platform dedicated to helping people solve their biggest career problems. She has more than 15 years of experience in hiring, recruiting and career coaching. For career tips, follow her on TikTok @jtodonnell.
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