Everyone knows that at some point, some version of the ‘why should I hire you?’ question is going to come up. And everyone knows that how you answer this question can be the deciding factor between you and another candidate. Here are some tips to make sure you give a good answer.
What is the answer?
The answer to this question is going to be different for everybody. The important thing though is that it has to be about you. The idea is to make this answer as memorable for the interviewer – because who knows how many times he has asked this question that day, that week, ever – and memorable for the right reasons.
At its core, the answer to this question is the top three or four reasons why you think someone should hire you above everyone else. Make sure these are reasons where you can give descriptions, answers or more details. They don’t want a list; they want context.
From an FE point of view, your most impressive strengths may include your:
- Industry experience
- Previous classroom or teaching experience
- Previous experience of mentoring or managing others
- Key accomplishments or awards
- Level of education or training
Remember that when mentioning a skill, strength or accomplishment you possess, if you can describe how this demonstrates a desired criterion or fits their ethos and values, then even better.
What will help me stand out?
Rather than focusing on skills or strengths on their own, think about how your skills and experience work together. What combination of skills or strengths do you have? Many candidates will be moving from an industry background, so therefore you may expect to be going up against some with similar levels of technical or practical experience as you, or a similar skill set. Why is your skill set or experience of greater value than theirs? What does yours combine with to make you a better candidate for this role?
Have you used your level of technical skill to support others develop their own skills? Have you used your practical experience in innovative ways or to find solutions to problems? Is your skill set combined with great interpersonal and communication skills, meaning you’re the person everyone comes to if they have questions? Does your teaching experience include time demonstrating your subject knowledge, ability to present knowledge in a way for others to understand, and your understanding of differentiation, inclusion and personalisation?
Have an answer prepared before you go to the interview. If you try to improvise the answer to this question on the spot, you’re less likely to come across as capable, clear and confident. However, you also don’t want to sound too rehearsed, so don’t try and memorise an answer verbatim.
In preparation for answering this question, make you look carefully at the job description, identify the most essential criteria and which of your accomplishments or skills match these. Think also how you can use these to show that you are different from the other candidates. Do this in note form and you’re less likely to try and remember it word for word.
Once you have a rough idea of what you are going to say, practice. Time yourself, record yourself, speak to a mirror, call a friend – however works best for you, practice it so it flows from you easily without too much mumbling, hesitation or rambling. Aim for a 1-2-minute answer, making sure to encapsulate your key points in a clear way and refer to their criteria.
Some key phrases
The following key phrases might help when preparing your answer. Remember, it isn’t a case of trying to fit as much as in as possible but make your strengths clearly identifiable and memorable to the interviewer. You don’t want to sound rehearsed or like a cliché.
- I’m passionate about…
- I’m driven to…
- I have the experience to start contributing from day one.
- I’m excited about the prospect of getting started.
- I have a reputation for getting things done.
- …with a smile on my face.
- I’m enthusiastic about…
- It’s not just my background in…
- At the same time, I have…
- I have the experience/knowledge/skills you’re looking for, and…
To sum up, here are some dos and don’ts when answering this question.
- Prepare in advance
- Practice your answer
- Speak honestly
- Use quotes from your managers, feedback, colleagues etc.
- Reference your reputation
- Add some personality to your answer
- Focus on your most compelling strengths
- Sum up the key points
- ‘Wing it’ on the day
- Be modest or self-deprecating
- Be too general
- Rattle off a list of qualities
- Talk too much
- Repeat everything you’ve already said
There is no magic formula I can give you or guarantee that your answer will be the one the interviewer likes the best. All you can do is give it your best shot and hopefully the above points will help you feel more confident next time this question pops up. The key is definitely to find that balance between being memorable, demonstrating you have what they’re looking for, and showing them a bit of your personality – it’s about what makes you you and whether the interviewer thinks that matches their mental checklist.
I wish you all the best of luck!