This is your opportunity to close the deal in any job interview. If you don’t know the answer to this question, how can you expect the interviewer to make the decision for you.
After all, the whole interview process is about answering this question: Why should we hire you instead of one of the many other well-qualified applicants?
Every interview question is an attempt to gather information to inform this hiring decision. Many interviewers will also specifically ask you to make your case with one of these questions:
• Why should we hire you?
• Why are you the best candidate for the job?
• Why are you the right fit for the position?
• What would you bring to the position?
To close the deal on a job offer, you MUST be prepared with a concise summary of the top reasons to choose you. Even if your interviewer doesn't ask one of these question in so many words, you should have an answer prepared and be looking for ways to communicate your top reasons throughout the interview process.
Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?
The interviewer's job is to hire the best person for the position. Most of the candidates that make it to the interview stage are qualified for the job. The winning candidate must be more than qualified, especially in a very competitive job market.
Every hire is a risk for the company. Your interviewer will also be taking a personal career risk in recommending a particular candidate to hire. If the candidate performs well, Mr. Interviewer looks brilliant and gets a pat on the back.
If the candidate turns out to be a dud (doesn't perform well, doesn't get along with the team, leaves the job prematurely, etc.), the interviewer looks like a dummy and his professional reputation suffers.
With this question, interviewers are asking you to sell them on you and your status as the best person for the position. Make their job easier by convincing them that:
• You can do the work and deliver exceptional results
• You will fit in beautifully and be a great addition to the team
• You possess a combination of skills and experience that make you stand out from the crowd
• Hiring you will make them look smart and make their life easier
How to Answer: Why Should We Hire You?
This is your chance to wow them with your highlight reel. Your answer should summarise the top three or four best reasons to hire you.
It's better to have three or four strong reasons with memorable descriptions and/or examples than to rattle off a laundry list of twelve strengths without context.
This is an opportunity to reiterate your most impressive strengths and/or describe your most memorable selling points, tailored to align with the top requirements in the job description. Your 3-4 bullet points could include a combination of the following:
• Industry experience
• Track Record
• Experience in performing certain tasks or duties
• Technical skills
• Soft skills / Selling Skills
• Key accomplishments
Accomplishments and success stories are always good bets, especially if you can describe how a key accomplishment, a successful sales campaign, for example, demonstrates a desired competency.
One approach is to mention any unique combination of skills(s) and experience that you possess. For example, many candidates may have strong account managing skills, but what if you combine those with new business development experience that others don't have? Sounds like a great recipe for a major account salesperson. Explain why in your answer.
Most job seekers should be able to develop a standard answer to this question that can be customized a bit for each opportunity. Here's how:
Step 1: Brainstorm
To get started, review the job description (or a representative job description if you don't have an interview lined up right now) and your resume and ask yourself these questions:
• What are the most important qualifications for this position from the company's perspective?
• In which of these areas do I really shine?
• What are my most impressive accomplishments?
• What makes me different from the typical candidate?
Brainstorm and jot down everything that comes to mind.
Step 2: Structure Your Sales Presentation
Choose the 3-4 bullet points that make the strongest argument for you. Use those bullet points to structure your sales presentation. Don't write a script to memorise -- simply capture the bullet points that you want to convey. Each bullet will describe the selling point with a brief explanation and/or example for context.
Keep it concise -- you still want to keep your answer in the 1-2 minute range, so you won't be able to rattle off every skill and accomplishment on your resume. You have to really think about what sets you apart from the competition.
Step 3: Practice
Once you feel pretty good about the points you want to make, it's time to practice. Again, it's not a good idea to memorise a script -- you can end up sounding like a robot or feel more nervous because of pressure to remember specific wording.
The better approach is to capture your bullet points, study them, and then practice until you feel comfortable talking about them off the cuff. Your answer should come out a little bit different each time, but it should always cover the points that you want to make.
Remember: It's also very important to come across as confident and enthusiastic when you deliver your presentation. Make them believe in you -- your abilities and your commitment.
If you project confidence (even if you have to fake it a little), you're more likely to make a strong impression. As for enthusiasm, keep in mind that true passion for the work required is a pretty compelling selling point. Yes, experience and qualifications are important, but the right attitude can definitely give you an edge over those with similar professional backgrounds.
After many years of experience in recruiting and hiring, I'd rather hire someone who has a little less experience, but who is driven and motivated to learn and succeed.
Example Answer for a New Recruit
"Well, I have all of the skills and experience that you're looking for and I'm confident that I would be a high performer in this BDM role.
It's not just my background in producing results in every project I have worked on -- or my people skills, which have helped me develop great relationships with colleagues, business owners, and senior managers alike. But I'm also passionate about this industry and I'm driven to deliver high-quality work."
Why We Like It:
The response has a lot of confidence and concisely sums up how the candidate meets the position's top requirements. This answer is a little bit general and could perhaps be further strengthened with examples (describing a successful project, naming one of those top companies, offering evidence of those great relationships).
However, assuming that the candidate has already discussed some specifics of past roles, this answer does a good job of reiterating and emphasising. The answer doesn't make the interviewers put all of the pieces together on their own.
The candidate does it for them and naturally, does it with a very positive spin. We also really like the last line: What's not to love about passion, drive, and high-quality work?
Ask any salesperson. It's tough to close a deal in a buyer's market. Many candidates sabotage themselves with avoidable mistakes.
Lack of preparation -- Don't try to wing it. You should take the time to prepare your 3-4 bullet points and look for opportunities to customize for any new opportunity. Then, you must PRACTICE delivering your sales pitch until it feels comfortable.
Modesty -- This is not the time to be modest or self-deprecating. You must be ready, willing, and able to talk about what makes you a great hire. This will require some practice if you are naturally a bit modest.
You don't have to be super-confident, you can use your own style. If you're not comfortable making value statements about yourself (i.e. "I am the perfect candidate."), you can stick to fact ("I have ten years of experience, got promoted, broke the sales record, won the award, delivered on time and on budget, received kudos from my manager/client, etc.")
Another way to "sell" yourself with facts is to quote other people's opinions. Quote your manger, "My manager told me that he's never seen anyone with more determined “Hunting” skills." You can also reference your general reputation: "I have a reputation for always closing the sale" or "I have a history of always completing my projects ahead of schedule."
Being too general -- Do your best to add some personality to your answer. Don't simply rattle off the bullet points listed in the job description. Really think about what makes you unique and express it in your own voice.
Talking too much -- Remember the law of answering interview questions: You should limit each answer to 1-2 minutes in length (not counting any follow-up questions or requests for additional detail).
If you try to walk through your entire resume when answering this question, the interviewer is likely to tune out.
Focus on your most compelling selling points. Keep in mind that you'll be more believable if you focus on a few strengths and don't try to claim that you are a master of every business skill imaginable.
What If They Don't Ask Me?
Why should we hire you is a very effective interviewing question, but not every hiring manager realises it. What if you prepare a beautiful presentation and they never ask you why you're the best candidate?
You may have to look for an opportunity to share your thoughts on the subject. At minimum, the process of preparing the answer will help to inform your response to other questions including:
• Tell me about yourself
• What are your strengths?
Also, remember that a good salesperson always finds a way to deliver his presentation. One approach is to wait for an opening at the end of the interview -- maybe after you have asked your questions and the interviewer asks if there is anything else on your mind. You could lead in with a transition like: "I just want to say that I'm very interested in the position and I think I would be a great asset in the role because..."
What are your salary expectations?
Diving in the deep end can be tricky for the unprepared.
You’ve worked hard to perfect your resume and land that all-important big interview. This means, though, that the battle is only just beginning.
Answering the salary expectations question the wrong way can cost you a job offer. It can also put you in an untenable situation by forcing you to consider a job at a less-than-desirable salary.
After all, in some circumstances, the only thing worse than failing to get a job offer after an interview, is failing to get an offer that’s sufficient to support you and/or your family.
How to Answer the Salary Question
Why it’s Important… and Tricky
You may be wondering what the big deal about the money question is; yet it’s one question that often stumps job candidates. Not only that, but it can change the climate of an interview from red hot to ice cold as a result of a few digits of difference in thinking.
Why do companies ask job candidates the salary question?
Ultimately, company leaders and HR professionals want to know if they can afford you before they invest time and resources courting you to come to work for them.
Some employers are bargain hunting. Despite a general market value for certain positions, some companies place a bigger premium on certain positions than other companies. This means that the salary they expect to pay for a certain position may be lower or higher than the going rate.
Another possible reason is that they’re trying to see how you value your work. Are you confident enough to ask for what you deserve, or will you meekly accept whatever they offer?
Sell them on you. Convince them of your worth to their organisation before you reach the point of salary negotiations.
When/How the Salary Question is Asked
Usually, "the salary question" is one or both of the following:
1) What are you looking to make?
2) What are you making now?
Each of these comes with different challenges. The question(s) can come up early on as part of the screening process or can pop up later after you’ve answered a few of the behavioural, skill, or background questions.
In some respects, it’s a good thing when the salary topic comes into the interview conversation. It indicates that there is some interest in having you come to work for the company.
The other side of the coin, though, is that when you’re not prepared, it’s easy to make a misstep on this question that could prove costly.
Expect the salary interview question and have plans in place to address it before going into the interview.
Answering “What are Your Salary Requirements?”
It seems like an innocent enough question. It makes sense that potential employers would want to know a ballpark figure for your expectations, right? Not so fast. Be aware that candidly stating your salary expectations too early in the interview process can lead to problems.
Problem 1. Early in the interview, the company in question isn’t sold on you just yet. They’re still feeling you out and doing comparison shopping between you and the other candidates. You'll have better leverage to negotiate later, so it serves you best to avoid naming a specific number too early.
Problem 2. You may be tempted to sell yourself short to move forward in the process. While some businesses will jump at the lowest offer, there are plenty of others out there that understand the marketplace and will shy away from candidates that seem too eager to lower their standards to get the job. It may make them worry that you’ll lower your standards elsewhere as well.
Furthermore, do you really want a company that makes you feel as though they’re only after the cheapest possible deal? Or do you want to work for a company that’s after the most qualified candidate for the job?
Problem 3. A high number can price you out of contention before you’ve even had a chance to make a good impression. Low or high, if you name a price that’s outside of their expectations, it can remove you from the running for the position.
Problem 4. Going too low can also put you in a position where you can’t afford to take the job yet can’t afford to turn the job down. This is especially true for job candidates who offer low-end figures out of desperation and in hopes of getting the job. This rarely leads to a happy work situation.
Before you consider answering the question, it’s important to know the going rate for jobs in your field and in your job market (location).
Research to understand the market salary range for the position, size of the company you’re interviewing with, location, and your experience level. You will probably find some conflicting information and wide ranges in some places, but at least you'll get a general sense if you look at a few sources.
Your goal is to arrive at a reasonable package that seems fair based on market value and your current or most recent salary. This way, if pressed, you can name a number that's based on real data and position it as the market range and not just what you want.
You will also want to think a bit about best case scenarios (what salary offer would make you say yes on the spot) and worst case scenarios (what salary offer would you walk away from)
Tactics to Delay Answering
Experts recommend putting off answering the salary question as long as possible. Here are a few suggestions to strategically delay answering the salary questions with a specific number.
When asked: “What are your salary expectations for the job?”
This is a great opportunity to sell yourself while putting the pressure on the organization to make a fair offer by saying something along the lines of:
“I’m more interested in finding a position that’s a good fit for my skills and interests. I’m confident that you’re offering a salary that’s competitive in the current market.”
You’re letting them know that you’re confident of your abilities and respect yourself too much to sell yourself short.
At the same time, you’re giving them an opportunity to earn your respect by making a fair offer. By doing this, you’re tactfully letting them know you’re not desperate and expect to be compensated appropriately for your time and talent.
By playing hardball on the salary issue and not giving in and answering right away, you’re also letting the hiring company know that they’re getting a savvy and tough negotiator if they hire you. This may be the perfect incentive for a better salary offer.
Naturally, some interviewers will press further for a specific number. At this point, you can say something like:
"Well, according to my research and past experience, my understanding is that 75-90K per year is typical based on the role and requirements."
This frames the number as "here's my understanding of what's competitive" as opposed to "here's what I want."
If you've done your research, you'll be able to quote a reasonable range and then they can respond.
When asked: “What are You Making Now?”
For the most part, interviewers ask this question believing that offering a salary 10 to 15 percent higher than your current salary will be sufficient to lure you away from your current position.
There are a number of reasons why this question may not be so straightforward for many candidates. Most typically, many candidates are either underpaid or overpaid in their current roles. They fear an overly high or low number could lead to an unattractive offer or knock them out of contention. Others may be making a career change or moving from commission-based to salary work or otherwise in a situation in which the comparison isn't valid.
If you're making "too much," the interviewer may feel they can't afford you or you are overqualified. This can be a problem if you are okay with taking a lower salary -- perhaps because you know you are/were overpaid, you are making a career change, or you are prioritizing work-life-balance or other aspects of the job.
It's far more common for someone to be underpaid and worried about the perception that there's something "wrong" with them for that reason.
If you’re not making the market rate, or close to it, potential employers may begin scratching their heads and asking why. The problem is that many people choose jobs with lower salaries for reasons that have nothing to do with work ethic or job performance including the following:
• Bonus/commission incentives
• Flexible working options or reduced hours
• Better benefits -- health, retirement, tuition reimbursement, etc.
• Fewer work hours
• Location (cost of living, local job market, etc.)
• Opportunity to take on new responsibilities and gain experience even if your salary didn't increase accordingly
You don’t want to let the decision to work for a less than stellar salary in the past derail your opportunity for a competitive salary in the future.
In any of these cases, deflection, on this particular question, can be your best bet. Eventually, you will have to address this question. However, you will be in a much better position if you can deflect until they already love you and you have more leverage to negotiate.
When pressed to give your current salary when you know it would sabotage your chances, consider the following tactic to delay the question a little longer, if not put it off altogether:
“Since this position is not exactly the same as my current job, let’s discuss what my responsibilities at this company will be and work together to determine a fair salary for this position.”
If you feel you must reveal your lower salary earlier than you would like, don’t forget to mention the contributing factors too. Employers will understand that a job in a country town pays less than a job in capital City.
4 Tips on Negotiating for What You’re Worth
Congratulations, we want to hire you! Great news until you see the low-ball offer. But remember that the offer is simply that. An offer. A starting point. Sometimes, it’s even a test.
The way you respond to the offer can change everything.
1) When negotiating a job offer, keep things positive – even if the offer is one you’re having a great deal of difficulty drumming up enthusiasm about. Show gratitude for the offer and enthusiasm about the potential of the position before you dive into negotiating mode.
2) Make your counter offer one that is fair, well-reasoned, and thoughtfully presented.
It’s generally a good idea to provide a salary range as part of your counter offer – indicating that companies will often avoid offering the lowest range in an effort to avoid seeming impolite. Though if you do provide a range, make sure the bottom number is one you can live (and work) with. Providing a salary range also gives the employer the impression that you’re flexible – a trait they often prefer in employees.
3) Be willing to walk away if the offer isn’t right for you.
It’s hard to do, especially in a competitive job market. If you’re not desperate to put food on the table or a roof over your head, though, it may be better in the long run to wait for the right offer, rather than simply taking the opportunity that’s available right now.
4) Some companies may have a limit on salaries they can offer, but that doesn’t mean they can’t offer compensation in other ways. If you get pushback on a higher salary, try negotiating for other benefits that could sweeten the offer for you:
• Performance bonuses
• Signing bonuses
• Future pay raises
• Additional holidays
• Company stock
• Superannuation contributions
• Health benefits
• Flexible work hours
Some people even negotiate for gym or club memberships.
Only you can determine your priorities. If you’re reasonable with your requests, don't be afraid to open up the discussion.
The bottom line: You don’t have to live in fear of interview questions about money or even a salary offer that’s on the low side of what you want or need. Following these tips will help you navigate the tricky waters of salary negotiations, while keeping your head above water.
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