"Can you tell me why I should hire you for this job instead of all the other applicants?" The dreaded question nobody ever has an answer for. You can't just say "Because I need a job." You certainly don't want to explain that you are behind on your car payments and any job would be a blessing right now. So, how do you answer this question and others to make the best impression on the interviewer?
Why do you want this job?
Why do you want this job? This particular one? There were 20 or 30 other jobs listed in the paper. Why did you apply for this one? Maybe you want to be associated with this company's reputation. Maybe you will make more money than you did at your last job? Is this kind of work more enjoyable for you than other kinds of work? Is it a shorter or easier commute? You have to honestly answer all these questions in your own mind before you can give an interviewer an answer that conveys your enthusiasm for the position. If you honestly don't know why you want this job, maybe you should apply for something else.
What qualifications do you have?
Okay, so you've cleaned up lots of baby spit while dealing with a first grader and talking on the phone. You can do laundry and clean the bathroom at the same time. You've driven all over the United States taking trips this year. You spend all your free time on Facebook and Pinterest. Are those marketable skills? YES, if you play up your strengths.
Dealing with kids is child care, product testing, and supervision. Doing laundry and cleaning the bathroom at the same time classifies as multi-tasking, setting priorities, and attention to detail. All that driving you do, that's travel experience and networking.
Okay, you say. That all sort of makes sense, but what about spending all day on Facebook and Pinterest. Categorize it as communication skills, computer skills, networking, research and development, and brainstorming new ideas.
Does this all seem a little silly? Well, it is- sort of. As job seekers, we often only consider our experiences in other jobs, while overlooking the things that we are really good at. Don't play down your strengths. Find a way to work them into the conversation. Let that interviewer see what makes you be you. They don't want to hire somebody only to find out they are a totally different person. Be proud of you. Be confident in your abilities. Be honest with what you have and haven't done, but be willing to share similar experiences that will help you handle the job.
Why did you leave your last job?
"Um, because my boss was a pompous jerk." Not the best response. Try this instead, "My boss and I had different visions for the future of the company."
If you are like me, your last job was a dead end. There was no room to grow in the company. Tell the interviewer, "I love to grow and expand my knowledge base and experience. Unfortunately, there were no advancement opportunities available at my last job."
May we contact your former employer?
This can be a tough one, depending on how you left your last job. If you say no, the interviewer will think you are hiding something. If you say yes, you take the risk that the former boss might say something negative. Always say yes, be willing to take the chance.
If you are really worried about what the boss might say, direct the attention to somebody else in the company who can verify your employment. You might say, "The human resources department can be reached at (insert phone number here) I'm certain they can verify my position and pay raise."
If you worked for a larger company you might offer this statement. "As CEO of XYZ Company, Mr. Boss is really busy, but his secretary's name and number are ...."
If a certain coworker knows more about your job performance than the head honcho would, don't be afraid to say so. "While Mr. Boss is the CEO of the company, I rarely saw him during all my years of employment. However, I worked very closely with Jane Doe and I'm sure she would be happy to tell you about my day to day activities within the company."
What can you offer our company?
Before you go to the interview, do your research. Find out as much as you can about the company. Read their mission and goals statements. Read the company history. Find out what their number one product is and why it is number one. Research the successful employees. What is their background, education, and experience? Figure out how you can fit into that picture. Honestly determine what you will add to the company and answer appropriately. Are you an amazing team player? Do you come up with new and creative ideas? Is your expertise in customer relations, web design, or product development? Know the answer before you even step into the interview.
You can have a successful interview experience by being prepared ahead of time. Have a professional resume and cover letter prepared by a reputable company. Do your research before you go. Learn about the job, learn about the company, and think about why you would be a good fit for them company. Play up your strengths, be positive, dress appropriately, and smile. If the interviewer genuinely likes you and believes you to be honest and forthcoming in your answers, you have a good chance of being hired.