When asked this question, most job seekers bobble it and sometimes even fumble the ball. And yes, that goes for executives, too.
And guess what?
Responding by saying, “Wow...hmmm...that is a really good question,” is NOT what the other party wants to hear.
People who are interviewing you want to see someone who speaks confidently and succinctly with a value proposition that meets the employer’s needs.
What about you? Can you answer this question?
If you can’t…then how do you expect an employer to “buy” what you are selling if you aren’t even “feeling” it yourself? The best sales people are the ones who BELIEVE in something, and in this case, you need to believe and have confidence in yourself as the commodity you are trying to sell!
Being in the “moment” of what you have to offer means being grounded and taking ownership of your accomplishments. This does not mean boasting — it means being able to assert yourself. This is a difficult thing for many people to do simply because we’ve been taught by our parents that we shouldn’t be too arrogant and proud of our accomplishments. But these teachings have had a detrimental effect on job seekers who are not comfortable talking about their active roles in company contributions.
Still uncertain about how you can connect these dots? Try these tips to get fired up in answering this question:
1. Review your “kudos” file.
Everyone should have one — this is where you put your client, boss, co-worker, and any other kudos you receive. It’s a great place to start when reviewing how others might see you. Getting the external viewpoint of what you have to offer can help you gain perspective.
2. Keep track of your accomplishments.
In your “kudos” file, also keep records of your performance reviews, staff reports, plan of work, and any other benchmarks that might provide metrics associated with your performance levels. Keeping track of these things can also help you gain a bigger picture view of what you have done to help each employer. That, after all, is how a prospective employer is looking at you as a candidate…what did you do for the previous company so they can make a decision about what you might be able to do for them?
3. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes. What do they need?
Let’s put it this way: If YOU were hiring someone for the position, what qualities and things would you want to see in that person to know IMMEDIATELY if they were the right fit? For example, if a company is hiring a meeting planner, they probably would want a budget-conscious and quality-driven meetings professional who can deliver high-impact events on-time and on-budget. Now that’s a reason to be hired — connecting phrases that describe what you offer in a way to which an employer can relate. The trick to coming up with these value statements is to delve a little deeper into a job description and think about what a potential employer might really need.
4. What is your “specialty?”
Each of us can tackle our jobs with energy and positivity, but what is it that makes us good at what we do? An example: one of my clients was a sales person who seemed to jump from job to job…she had multiple positions within a short period of time. Turns out she was a hotshot sales person who kept getting hired by start-up companies who needed someone who could get in there, generate lots of income to get the company going, get the wheels moving, and then the company would move on. Her specialty really was all about being a start-up revenue specialist. If you can cut through the static and identify your unique edge that sets you apart, you’ll have a clear picture of exactly what you offer an employer.
In other words, you need to answer the employer’s unasked question by identifying what their pain points are and showing how you can solve them.
Once you have a better sense of your value and how you might help an employer, you will have a better basis for developing a rock-star answer to the question of “Why should I hire you?” And hiring managers/recruiters/human resource managers LIKE clear answers like this.
Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Careers, which specializes in mid- to upper-management résumés. She is an active volunteer in her community and donates her time teaching a résumé writing class at the Oregon Employment Department every week to help empower unemployed professionals and workers.