I read recently that the ‘why should we hire you’ interview question is a stupid one. Maybe it is. And I could appreciate why that author felt strongly about making that statement. Normally it’s not an answer that can contribute meaningfully to executive recruitment decisions. Though, not all hiring managers are skilled at interviewing. Sometimes it’s up to you the applicant to steer the conversation to what’s useful. So here’s what you do when asked, ‘why should we select you?’
Deflection, a skill best exhibited by politicians, diplomats, solicitors, has it’s place in every workplace interview. The intention in this case is to avoid direct self-promotion and instead demonstrate capability in a purposeful way. For example the conversation could go something like this.
Hiring manager: ‘So Sandra, tell us why should we choose you for this role?’
You take a few moments to think then reply: ‘Well, let’s see, if you can share with me some of your most pressing strategic challenges I’d walk you through how I’d approach them. That way I’d demonstrate how I think.’
The hiring manager looks to her colleague, one of the Directors, who then explains a business problem.
Hiring manager: ‘I want to choose the candidate who can really excel in this role and support the growth we have planned. How do you feel you can contribute to that?’
You: ‘Let’s discuss how the business intends to grow a bit more, that should help me draw on specific past experiences and skills that’d evidence how I’ve conceptualised growth strategies and adapted during execution.’
Hiring manager: ‘You have quite an impressive CV. I like that you’ve spent a number of years dealing with complex issues in our industry. The trouble I’m having is equating what you’ve done in the past to how you can help the business now. Why you and not another candidate?’
You: ‘Yes, I agree. Equally important as a track-record is someone’s ability to add value in the long-term. Could we talk further about the business’ 5-year plan?
Yes, interviews at a Director-level aren’t the same as they were when you were at other levels in your career. You need to coherently express the value you’d bring. And whilst you want to seem at ease talking about you, one key approach to landing Director-level jobs is the ability to steer the conversation in the right direction if the interviewer isn’t.
About the contributing author
Rhonda Best is an ACCA Chartered Accountant and Business Growth Specialist with 15 years’ leadership experience in the SME sector internationally. She is a former Chair of the ACCA’s Corporate Sector Network Panel, a member of its SME Global Forum and an ACCA Council candidate in July-September 2016 elections (ie. ACCA’s leadership). She is also a Director at Alexander Bain.
In 2015 she co-founded Aspiring Executives Committee (AXC), a do-it-yourself executive development programme which facilitates the development of 7 core leadership competencies. AXC members take up first-time Director and committee roles in start-ups, building credibility and a transparent Director-level track record simultaneously.
You can meet AXC members or inquire about joining the network at the networking conference on 22 November 2016. Register to attend here AXC Networking Conference.