Career Network for student Scientists and Postdocs at Yale

Creating a platform for discussion of scientific careers

Month: April 2016

“Why Should We Hire You?”

In any job interview, there are inevitably going to be questions that will stump you. They’ll stump you not because you don’t know the answer or because you’re not knowledgeable, but because they seem like obvious questions that don’t even need to be asked. It’s like asking a race athlete, “Why do you want to win?” Um…? Why WOULDN’T they want to win? Why would they train and prepare for so long if their goal was to lose? It seems obvious, so why bother even asking the question?

However, in an interview, you can’t be so blunt when a similar question arises, such as “Why do you want this job?” Well, you’re unemployed and on the job market – why on earth WOULDN’T you want the job??? Another common question that gets asked in interviews is, “Why should we hire you?” Well, buddy, you invited me to this interview, so you’re obviously interested in hiring me – why don’t you tell me what’s so appealing about me instead?

Clearly, these responses are not what you want to say out loud even though you’re probably thinking them in your head. Regardless, we still have to answer the question, so what should we actually say in response to these types of seemingly obvious questions?

To give an amazing answer to “Why should we hire you,” there are two main things you want to accomplish in your answer:

  1. Address the “we,” not the “me”
  2. Solve their problems

and here’s why…


Address the “We,” not the “Me”

Our natural tendency when asked, “Why should we hire you,” is to start talking about what makes us so great. This seems appropriate since the question emphasizes YOU. However, shifting the focus from ourselves to a team-centered vision that merely includes ourselves is the way to go.

Remember that the company is less concerned about you and much more concerned about the company, so what they’re really asking with this question is, “How can you help us?” and more importantly, “What it is that you can bring to our company that no one else can?”

When you think about the question rephrased in this manner, it becomes easier to answer because it’s not as vague. It’s clear that they want you to articulate your assets in the context of their company.

So when you formulate your answer to the question, highlight your strengths and how they align with the company. For example, let’s say you’re an RNA biochemist interviewing for a pharmaceutical company who has burgeoning interests in RNA therapeutics – and you know this because you’ve done your homework on them – but they haven’t yet launched this research division yet.

Rather than highlighting how skilled you are at the bench and stating that you’re a hard worker who would bring your superior intellect to the company’s research and development (R&D) team, which is a very “me” centric answer, instead focus on how you’ve developed a keen sense of new and emerging trends in RNA biology in recent years and you’re very interested in the company’s vision to move in that direction for future projects. Then highlight how your knowledge base and background would be a good fit for the existing R&D team as the company transitions into this new field of therapeutics.

This is a much more “we” focused answer that is sure to make the interviewer think you are indeed the best candidate for the position over other applicants because you can help the company expand and become more lucrative.

By answering in such a way that demonstrates the match would be beneficial for both parties, you are much more likely to seal the deal. So, although the question seemingly asks about you, assume that it’s asking about them and how they would be better if you joined their team.


Solve Their Problem(s)

Similar to highlighting the “we,” not the “me,” in your answer to the question, “Why should we hire you,” you should also focus on how you can solve any existing problems for the company. This is different from the above-mentioned example in which you could help the pharmaceutical company pave a new path into RNA therapeutics. What this perspective gets at is how you can fix something that is currently amiss, not something that has yet to occur, in the company.

For example, let’s say the same pharmaceutical company is experiencing a high rate of turnover for their R&D scientists, which is inherently slowing down the team’s overall progress. Additionally, let’s say that throughout the course of your interview day, you’ve gathered that there aren’t a lot of career development or enrichment programs in place for the scientists at this company.

Given your background working with CNSPY and/or other campus organizations at Yale that work to provide career development opportunities for scientists, you could highlight that, in addition to the skills you’d bring to the bench, you’d be interested in taking the initiative to form a similar organization at this company to provide enrichment programs for the R&D scientists to improve job satisfaction and overall team morale, which should decrease the rate of employee turnover.

This response is sure to catch the attention of the interviewer for reasons other than your technical skills. As a result, you will become a much more desirable candidate over others who merely have the ability to help the company’s R&D team at the benchtop.

So, when asked, “Why should we hire you,” take this as an opportunity to address how you can solve any existing problems the company may be experiencing. Doing so is selfless and puts the company first and you second. Again, keep in mind that the company has one goal – to improve itself.

Thus, by focusing on how your skills and your background can help the company move forward, either by solving their existing problems or paving the way for them to accomplish their desired future goals, you will have given the interviewer very little reason why they shouldn’t hire you.

This is why it’s so important to 1) Address the “we,” not “me,” and 2) Solve problems for the company. Leave no doubt in their minds that you are THE best candidate for the position, and THAT is why they should hire you!


** Refocus your answer to this common interview question and let us know how your next job interview goes! **

Share your thoughts below by clicking the “Leave a Reply” link or by clicking the chat bubble in the top right of the post.

How to Handle Criticism at Work

Guest blogger, Supriya Kulkarni, a member of CNSPY’s Communications Team, shares more of her advice this week about how to accept and handle criticism in a professional manner. She provides some great advice that can be used everyday! Here’s Supriya…


“I am my biggest/worst critic!” We have all either said or thought of ourselves as our strictest critics. Yet, why is it so difficult to swallow criticism from others? We have all had it from our bosses, co-workers, peer reviewers, funding agencies, or job applications. It is difficult NOT to get disappointed at criticism. Negative reviews and critiques can have a significant effect on our professional attitude, and they can impinge on our personal lives as well.

You cannot avoid criticism. However, as amateur and beginner professionals in a research environment, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers need to understand how to face, handle, and convert criticism into a learning experience.

Here are a few tips to help you constructively handle ANY criticism:


1. Take the time to really listen and understand “what” the criticism is about-

It is very natural to become emotional when we hear or read a negative comment about our work or our behavior. However, the more emotional we are, the more convoluted our thinking becomes and our reactions become unprofessional, to say the least. Remember, the critique is about your approach to a specific problem or a response to a specific issue and not ALL of that makes you, YOU. Also, it is a professional critique, NOT a PERSONAL one. Hence, we should not take it personally. Instead, we should listen carefully to the comment and be objective about the point of the criticism.


2. Stay Calm-

Sometimes it’s not the criticism in itself, but the manner in which it is said/written/delivered that appears offensive. Getting riled up and emotional when you hear negative comments/criticism is a part of being human. But remember, in a professional setting, such emotional outbursts (even though silent) reflects negatively on you. Don’t be brusque and offensive, KEEP CALM and STAY STRONG.


3. Ask questions-

Clarify what seems ambiguous to you; it is VERY easy to misinterpret negative comments. By asking for clarity and being objective, you also project a positive attitude and an eagerness to solve the issue at hand rather than just being emotional. Remember, as a young professional, you have a lot to learn! 🙂


4. Determine the accuracy-

The way that the criticism was presented might have been striking or unprofessional. However, try to determine if the criticism (although presented to you in the wrong manner) has value in it. Ensure that the source of the criticism has all the information and is not unaware of important facts related to the issue at hand. If needed, speak with your mentors, friends, and/or family members to assess whether the criticism is valid and get their input on how you can resolve the issue.


5. Do not be hasty in your response-

Again, when criticized, it is a natural and protective reaction to respond and address the comment ASAP, but do NOT rush to explain, clarify, and/or demonstrate that the criticism was incorrect. Instead, digest the comment thoroughly, understand it completely, calm your emotions, and then address the comment. Hasty decisions are many a times incomplete decisions.


6. Address the criticism-

Once you have calmly thought about, understood, and systematically devised a solution to improve based on the critique, ACT on it. When you bring your solution into action, the source/person from whom the negative comment originated will witness the changes you have made and your improved professional approach will be acknowledged tremendously!


7. Do not be afraid to challenge the criticism-

If you go through the process of understanding, evaluating, and re-evaluating the criticism and realize that the person did not have all the information needed, or you genuinely believe that your approach/behavior was correct, or you conclude that the criticism was inaccurate, state your view of the situation assertively, but be respectful and professional while stating it.


Try to apply these tips the next time you hear a negative comment on your professional approach!

** Let us know if these tips were useful in helping you turn a criticism into a stepping stone to success in the professional world, and let us know if you have any additional tips that will help in these situations. Comment below! **