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:
- Address the “we,” not the “me”
- 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! **
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