A question about why you should be hired over another candidate strikes fear into many interviewees. For one, the question forces you to summarize what you thought you had the whole interview to prove. What’s more, how are you supposed to know who the other candidates even are?
Regardless of how you feel about the question, you should be prepared to answer it or one of its many iterations. Sometimes, the simplest questions can trip us up, or we fail to prepare for them, meaning that we deliver a bland, useless answer.
“I’ve seen so many people give the same boring responses to this question — ones that are either overly confident yet vague (e.g., ‘I’m the best at what I do and my bosses love me…’) or are too humble yet timid (e.g., ‘While this job may require more experience than I have, I think I’m a pretty fast learner…’),” said CNBC contributor and career coach J.T. O’Donnell.
So, what are the best ways you can make sure you’re answering this question effectively? Here are our top tips.
☑️ Think of your answer as a summary that you’ll elaborate on later.
This question can be a struggle because, of course, the entire interview considers why an employer should hire you over someone else. So, one of the reasons that candidates struggle with “why should we hire you over another candidate?” is because they think they have to cram in everything they want to say throughout the interview into a short response.
This certainly isn’t the case.
Come prepared for your interview by understanding the job description and its most important requirements. Then, think about who you are and the positions you’ve held that best articulate the relevant experience you would bring to the role.
This way, you’re always focusing on articulating part of the same message in response to every question asked, and you won’t worry about cramming everything you want to say into a single answer.
☑️ Don’t be cocky or overly humble; strike a balance.
Some candidates might take this question as a chance to cut down on other candidates, demonstrating why they are vastly superior to anyone who might be interviewing for the job.
Others might loathe this quandary and answer with a meek, “That’s up to you to figure out!” or something similar.
Neither is the right approach. You don’t want to come across as too confident or too humble; you’ll put the interviewer off either way.
☑️ Mention three skills or qualities that fit the job description best.
When asked a question like this one, you don’t want to go into too much detail or speak for too long. So, after you’ve done your research, choose three skills or qualities that you possess that would make you the best fit for the job.
For instance, perhaps the qualities you have that most closely relate to the job include managing others, designing programs, and boosting sales.
After you mention a skill in your response, offer a succinct and specific example of when you enacted the skill you mentioned.
For instance, if you talk about managing others, list how many years of experience you have in management, as well as mentioning the size of the teams you have led. You could also add what has made you a successful leader in the past.
Finally, conclude by talking about each skill and its accompanying “proof” by mentioning how it helped you succeed.
☑️ Gloss over the “other candidates” part of the question.
Sometimes, recruiters simply ask, “why should we hire you?” while others frame the question specifically as “why should we hire you over another candidate?”
If you’re asked the latter question, rest assured that you don’t actually have to talk about the other candidates. How could you? You don’t know who the other candidates are! So, just talk about how your experience matches the qualifications for the position and leave it at that.
But what if you have a recruiter who forces you to compare yourself to others?
One tactic is to summarize the job description and then ask the recruiter if you understand the job description completely. If they say you do, you can reiterate what you mentioned earlier about your skills and how they would help you be successful in the role.
Or you could be direct in saying that you don’t know who the other candidates are, so you don’t know how you stack up to them. Many recruiters will appreciate your unwillingness to evaluate a situation without knowing all the factors involved in making a judgment.
Answering “Why We Should Hire You Over Another Candidate?”
This question is no one’s favorite. You may be tempted to brush it aside, but if you don’t prepare a complex answer here, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity.
“Use this opportunity to put [recruiters] at ease…This way, being asked ‘why should we choose you over someone else’ doesn’t have to be a time waster, but an important, positive part of the interview,” said Washington Post’s Kevin Dickinson.
There are many questions like this one that can trip candidates up. Sometimes, you’re most likely to stumble on straightforward queries or clam up on questions you don’t want to answer. The only remedy? Prepare to answer well every time by reading Ivy Exec’s guide to the top 40 questions you’re likely to be asked in an interview.