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How to ace the job interview question: Why should I hire you?

Published:Thursday | November 26, 2015 | 4:23 PMGlenford Smith

Of all the non-technical questions you can be asked at a job interview, one of the most potentially problematic is: Why should I hire you?

Two reasons make this question especially tricky. First of all, it's usually asked near the start of the interview when you're most nervous. If your nerves aren't in check, you're most likely to ad lib, stammer aahs and ums, as you anxiously string words together, in an attempt to give a coherent answer.

The second reason this question can prove dangerous is because few people really know how to answer it well. Here's the key: gain profound and comprehensive knowledge of your prospective employer's wants and needs.

In a sense, this question is the key interview question. It's the pressing question in the interviewer's mind, whether she asks the question explicitly or not. Here, then, is a formula for hitting it out of the park for six, to use a cricketing analogy.

First, to repeat: know the wants of the prospective employer inside out. Study the ad, research the company thoroughly - do whatever you need to, to understand its most pressing wants and needs, in terms of the prospective hire.

Once you're crystal clear on that, here's what to do next. Carefully list your educational qualifications; key accomplishments; strengths; career goals and aspirations; knowledge, skills, and competencies; character traits and temperament; and work experience. This list is different from - and more comprehensive than - your structured rÈsumÈ.



Now, here comes the fun part: Match the specific wants and needs of the prospective employer with the best corresponding asset you have to offer. It is the candidate who's best at this matching game who will get hired, not necessarily the most well-dressed, experienced or academically qualified.

Playing this matching game masterfully also includes giving examples to demonstrate and support your claims. Don't just assert that you can do something the employer wants in the ideal candidate; give evidence from your recent work experience that demonstrates your point.

Only when you articulate your qualifications, knowledge, work experience, strengths and personal history in terms of the prospective employer's specific wants and needs will you excite him/her about hiring you.

Merely reciting a list of your impressive achievements, abilities and qualifications isn't enough. The fact is that the recruiter isn't interested in you at all. She's only interested in whether you can solve her problems and help her get what she wants.

Here's a brief example interviewing for the post of plant engineer for a large food manufacturing company:

"I have a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, as required by the position. I might add, I earned it with first-class honours. I also have eight years' experience in a commercial plant, working at the management level, beyond the six years required. Just last year, I received the Manager of the Year award.

"You're looking for someone capable of communicating with equipment suppliers for technical assistance for parts and upgrades. Well, between January and September this year, I spearheaded the retrofitting of a significant part of the plant's production equipment. I sourced the parts, and successfully completed the project one week ahead of schedule and within budget."

n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'.