Looking Closer at Two Interview Questions


So, tell me about yourself.
Why should we hire you?

These are the two questions that many candidates are asked in their job search.  They are seemingly innocent enough.  However, seemingly innocent questions can trip you up. You may think you are answering them in a way that puts you in the best light, but you may be completely off target. For example, in response to the question, “Why should we hire you?” some candidates respond:

I’ve successfully worked in my profession for over 10 years and believe I can make a difference in your organization. I have a demonstrated track record of leadership and the ability to achieve results.  I’m hard-working, responsible and would be dedicated to achieving business objectives.”

That answer may sound good, but on a scale of 1 – 10, it ranks a 5 at best! Why? The answer shows no research or insight. It is a general response that could be applicable to any number of companies. To the interviewer, you are not showcasing what you have to offer in the best light.  You have to set yourself apart from your competition and do better.  Let’s take a closer look to determine how to make yourself shine.

1. Why should we hire you?
Your job preparation is key and here is an opportunity to show it off. Tell the interviewer what you’ve learned about the company and why it’s appealing to you. SPECIFICS are the key.

Relate specific examples from your experience to what you’ve learned about the company, their focus, and their industry. Look to your personality and what motivates you and how that relates to any details you learned from the job posting, your recruiter, your friend who referred you, or from where you learned of the opportunity.

For instance, perhaps their job posting stated that they were looking to establish a project management department from ground up. If you thrive on growth, challenges, and making things happen – there’s your answer – along with examples of how you’ve grown, established, or done project management in a comparable role. Share what you can do and why you feel you can make a contribution and benefit the company. This question is about how YOU can benefit the company, not how the company can benefit YOU.

2. So, tell me about yourself.
Many interviews start off with this statement and can quickly get sidetracked or lost before ever truly getting started.  This is not an invitation to ramble on about everything that has happened to you since you started working in high school or your first job out of college. Nor is it the time to shrug your shoulders and give an impromptu, one-sentence answer.

Some people, especially those who haven’t prepared and have a tendency to talk when they get nervous, find themselves rambling.  Instead, know what you’re going to say in advance. Remember your elevator pitch?  That is a great place to start. Then put together a nice little 2 – 3 minute verbal bio about your career, your skills/qualifications, and why you are interested in the job opportunity. Then, practice!


  • Knowing who you are, what you want, what you have to offer, what you’ve accomplished – and having it all on the tip of your tongue – can make or break you for a job offer – not just for your perfect job, but sometimes for even finding ANY job.

  • Being able to sell yourself, your skills, how you can benefit a potential company and then being able to close the deal necessitates taking the time to research and learn about the company. It means knowing yourself well enough that you can apply aspects of your capabilities to the individual facts and details of that individual company.

  • And finally, the words of Peter Handal of Dale Carnegie Training, echo the importance of interview preparation, including what strikes most people as silly – role playing. But as he said, “you only have one chance to make a really good impression,” and if you don’t take it seriously enough to study and thoroughly prepare, someone else will, and that’s the person who will get the job!

Wishing you continued success!

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