Try putting yourself in the interviewer’s shoes for a minute. What questions would you ask to find the candidate who can come up to speed quickly, and who genuinely wants to work for your company?
“Why are you the best candidate for this position?” is one of those questions you can expect during a job interview. If you cannot properly answer this question, it can appear that you are not confident or serious about the position.
What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know
When an interviewer asks why you are the best candidate for this position, they don’t expect you to compare yourself to other candidates. By asking this question, the interviewer is assessing how well you understand the job and how confident you are in your abilities.
You may be asked this question in different forms, such as, “why should we hire you?” or “why do you think you’d be a good fit for this role?” Your answer to the variations on the question should remain the same—you must prove you understand the job and the company, and how you can help them excel.
Points to Emphasize
As with all interview answers, a little preparation for the “why are you the best candidate for this position?” question is key to your success. In order to speak convincingly about your qualifications, follow these tips.
Match your top skills with job requirements. Review the job description (and your resume) and look for reoccurring skills and responsibilities. Then, match your top skills with the top three-to-five job responsibilities, experience requirements, or characteristics requested, and explain how they match to the role.
Know how you can help the company. The more you know about the company, the stronger your answer will be. Look for clues about company culture on the company’s website and social media channels, and see what issues the company is facing by reading recent news. But don’t stop there. If possible, set up informational meetings with people who currently work at the company so you can learn about the culture and the job. Or, research employees via LinkedIn, and see if you share a connection with someone at the company. That someone could perhaps broker an introduction, which would allow you to ask questions either electronically or in person.
Getting back to your answer: explain how you can help the company. For example, if the company mentioned interest in expanding into foreign territories, and you happen to have lived in one of those territories, find a way to mention that in your answer—note your familiarity with the culture, and of course, if you speak the language, definitely emphasize that!
Be interested. Don’t hold back. Show your enthusiasm about joining and contributing to the company.
Be confident. Planning your answer in advance allows you to state your answer clearly and with confidence. The words you use and the tone of your voice are both important to conveying a confident message. Practice your answer in advance!
Be convincing. You will need to sell yourself to the interviewer and convince them that you can make a positive contribution. Share an example of a time you successfully made a difference at a company, and whenever possible, quantify the impact you made. For example, if you’re interviewing for a sales position, and you played a huge role in increasing sales by 10% over the course of 10 months at your last company, mention those numbers!
Be honest. Never exaggerate or lie when answering any question during your interview, especially this one. But don’t be too humble either. If you have received any awards or recognitions for your accomplishments in relatable positions, mention them.
Be unique. Pick a valuable yet unique skill or experience that will set you apart from the other candidates. You want the interviewer to remember you as a qualified and stand-out candidate.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Your answer to the “why are you the best candidate for this position?” question can make or break your candidacy. Avoid the “break” possibility by steering clear of these mistakes and pitfalls.
Don’t be generic. Do not give a vague answer that could apply to any position or company. Reference how you’ve used the specific skills requested in the job posting.
Don’t under-represent your skills or experience. Even if you have shared your skills, experience, and characteristics previously, do not try to breeze over this question. This is one more chance for you to reiterate why you are the match for the role.
Don’t ramble. Do not give lengthy examples or include too much information. Be concise and relevant. A good rule of thumb is aiming for an answer that lasts about a minute. Practicing your answer out loud will help you refine it. Let’s repeat that one—practicing your answer out loud will help you refine it.
Don’t trash talk others. Stay away from comparing yourself to other candidates or talking negatively about other applicants.
Say, for example, you’re interviewing for a customer service role at a company. One answer to why you are a fit for a customer service manager role might sound like this:
“My four years of customer service experience and managing a team of 20 reps has provided me with perspective on what your customer service manager job entails. I’m very driven by goals, and my enthusiasm helps motivate and inspire my team. Last year, we ranked in the top five customer service centers in the country. I personally recruited and trained 100 new reps over the course of three years and would enjoy helping grow your teams here as well. But I’m more than just a people person. I’ve created and managed budgets as well. People refer to me as an effective communicator and leader who isn’t afraid to get my hands dirty. I look forward to contributing in similar ways here.”
Someone in an accounting role, interviewing for a role at an accounting company, may provide an answer like this:
“During college, I took an accounting class and knew then I had found my niche. For the past five years, I’ve held jobs in Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and Accounts Served as the accounting manager’s backup. Each job taught me valuable lessons, but perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is the importance of interpersonal relationships. I’ve been able to collect month’s worth of back payments by developing a solid relationship with a past due customer. I also enjoy being part of a team that works together to get the job done. I look forward to joining a team like yours, one that has a reputation for being committed to accuracy and profitability.”
When answering the “why are you the best candidate for this position?” question, remember—this is your chance to clearly highlight your best and most relevant skills, and really drive home to the interviewer that you’re the one for the job. When prepping for the interview, assume that this question will be asked, and prepare your rock-solid answer in advance!