Joe Cronin, Application Adviser
This is probably one of the less pleasant job interview questions – although it comes up with frightening regularity! – because it seemingly invites you to brag, or compare yourself to the other candidates (who you haven’t even met), or, worst of all, beg and plead. But a good answer to this question avoids all of these pitfalls, and becomes an opportunity for you to provide an overview of yourself as a candidate, your top skills and qualities, without having to make unsubstantiated claims about yourself (à la The Apprentice) or assume that you’re better than everyone else who’s applied. It’s another way of saying ‘this is what I have to offer. If you like it, hire me’.
So how do you answer this question?
The first thing you should bear in mind is that, whatever the position, the interviewers are going to have a fairly clear idea of the candidate they’re looking for. So this question is as much ‘explain how you’re the ideal candidate for this position’ as it is ‘why should we hire you?’
Before the interview, make sure you read and re-read the person profile provided with the job application so you know, off by heart, the key traits they’re looking for. Next, think about how your own experience matches those qualities. Note down some examples. Memorize them. Then, in the interview, you have a ready supply of hard evidence to back up your claims that you’re the right candidate for the position because you have, say, excellent analytical skills (and provide an example). You’re also a fantastic team player (again, provide an example). Oh, and finally, you’re constantly finding innovative solutions to complex problems (another example).
As a finishing touch, you might want to mention how much you admire the company’s core values or work ethic (and say what these are!) and how this really applies to you. This shows that you know – and even better, care – about the company and what it stands for. You may be asked this question more specifically at another point in the interview, but there’s no harm in conveying extra knowledge about your potential employer.
Of course, there’s more than one way of approaching this question correctly, but the most important points to bear in mind are that you a) relate your answer to the skills and traits they’re looking for and b) always provide evidence/examples for the claims you make. Follow those two basic rules and you’re well on your way to an impressive answer.