Interviewing can be stressful – especially if it’s been awhile since you last did it. You prepare ahead of time by researching the company, the position, the contacts with whom you will interview and the challenges the company may be experiencing. You rehearse answers to expected interview questions outlining your accomplishments and the stories behind them. You are ready to knock them dead for your upcoming executive interview!
Even with research, preparation and rehearsal, some questions can take you off guard. My favorite recent example being, “If you were a part of a cheeseburger, which part would you be?” Best answer, in my opinion, “Umm, yeah – the cheese, of course!”
Silly questions aside, the question “Why should we hire you?” or “Why do you want this job?” will surface often and can put even the most prepared job seeker on edge. Expect it to come and prepare for it. It’s best not to have a generic answer.
But what makes a good answer? Here are three tips to keep in mind as you formulate your own response.
1. The answer is more about the “We” than the “Me”
Instead of focusing on what’s great about you, instead focus on what you see that is awesome between what you bring and what they offer together. Do you have a particular skill that would shine in their culture and bring about growth at the same time? Does the prospective employer have a situation before them to which you can uniquely contribute that makes benefits you both?
Is the company experiencing financial issues and you have a specific track record turning around distressed companies in their industry? Outline how fixing these types of scenarios is rewarding for you as a progressive Chief Financial Officer.
Answering in a way that promotes a winning scenario all around is the best strategy. If there’s a specific example of how you can advance the company, while advancing your own career, then absolutely share it!
2. It’s about your ability to solve problems they have
A smart answer focuses on solving existing problems the company is experiencing. Is the company experiencing high staff turnover? Demonstrate as a Director of HR the retention programs you have put in place that have reduced turnover. See that the organization’s main product line has plateaued in sales with its target market? Showcase how you reinvented the brand to invigorate sales and by how much for each instance you had success during your tenure as a EVP of Sales & Marketing.
Interviewers love to hear about a mutually beneficial solution or arrangement. Turnover is a real problem for some industries or companies and the better the likelihood that you both get something out of it (beyond trading work for pay), the better chances that you’ll stick around and they’ll want you to.
3. Your Passion Shines Through
If this is a position or field that you’re passionate about, little rehearsing may be necessary for this question, if you are speaking from your heart. There’s little that trumps what intrinsically motivates you when it comes to an effective answer.
Demonstrating what motivates you deep down is of great interest to a company. A great company knows they can’t motivate people—top-notch employees come with motivation and great companies know how to supercharge and channel that already-there mojo. Sharing what made you interested in finance or what inspired you to get involved in the pharmaceutical industry can show a company how you come to them already fired up about the cause/product/service and all you need is the proverbial gas to fuel that passion. This information, combined with your earlier research about the company, will emphasize that your personalities and interests mesh well making you a great hire for them –so don’t be afraid to share why.
When answering the question, “Why should we hire you?” it’s best to focus on the company’s needs and how you can serve those need and provide an answer that is a win/win for you both. Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm and let your passion for the position or industry emanate.
Above all else, take this question seriously and be prepared. This the time to showcase why you care about this position, what you have to offer the company and demonstrate that you want it.
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