I want to add value to your life even if you don’t use my formal services. This is a place to read about thought provoking questions, hear people’s stories, and get my take on some career search best practices. I hope you find it useful.

“Why Are You A Good Fit For This Position?”

It’s a common open-ended question asked in most interviews. It’s a brilliant question, and one of the best places for you, the interviewee, to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

You’ve already made it to the interview process. The hiring managers know you’re qualified (on paper) for the role, they know you have a degree, and they know that you have ## years of work experience. During the interview, they want to get to know you. So, When you answer this question, do not give a bland, general, response that’s identical to the answer you gave at your last interview. Give them new exciting information, be specific, and tailor your answer to that company.

How do you answer this question then? Here’s my favorite structure for getting it right.

Short and Simple

William Shakespeare, in HAMLET, wrote that “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Learn to deliver a powerful answer quickly. For this answer, “short” means capped at three minutes. The longer you talk, the more you’re at risk of straying off-topic and boring your audience. Your answer needs to be a conversation starter, not a conversation closer.

In line with this, keep it simple. Again, you don’t want your audience to lose interest, so you need to be direct. Follow this structure: 15-20 second introduction, three points at 45 seconds each, 15-20 second conclusion. It’s just like a standard speech, it’s easy to follow, and it packs a lot of information.

Write your answer in advance, rehearse it, time it, tweak it. Recite it in front of a mirror or call your best friend, partner, roommate and go through it with them. If you’re applying to multiple jobs, make minor tweaks to fit the specific company where you’re interviewing.

Point 1: Know Yourself

In an interview, you are talking about yourself, and the company wants to get to know you. Let them. Spend your first 45 seconds demonstrating who you are as a person. Don’t just stick to your qualifications, know your humanistic skills and know how you work with others. You don’t have to apply it directly to the role yet; you’ll get to that in your third point.

A snippet of what this looks like for me, “well, in addition to the skills and previous positions you’ve seen on my resume, I like to think of myself as a conductor and educator. This means I’m at my best in positions where I’m permitted to work across departments in truly collaborative environments. It also means I tend to be exceptionally patient with the development of others, I recognize the need for different communication mediums for different people, and am open to learning, which is the heart of teaching…(transition to point two)…when I saw *insert company name* was hiring, I knew it was a place I wanted to be…”

Point 2: Know the Company

What are their core values? What is their mission? What is their product or service? Let it be clear that you’ve done your research on their brand. Companies are increasingly focused on hiring for culture fit, meaning they’d rather have a mostly qualified collaborator who cares about the company than a fully qualified individual who wants a good paycheck.

To continue my personal snippet: “As I understand it’s mission, *company name* exists to lead the talent acquisition industry by providing a full suite of services to growing companies to ensure they can bring in talent that not only ensures they get qualified people to build and deliver products, but people who align with their culture values. Then on the backend, it’s a company that provides pro-bono services to underrepresented individuals to help them secure a living wage. That’s a team I want to be a part of…(transition to point three)….the role of *insert job title* specifically…

Point 3: Know the Job-Description

If the other two are shorter than 45 seconds each, that’s okay. You can fill in the time with more detail here. Know the job description’s subtler points, refer to them, and link them directly to who you are as a person and the experiences you’ve had. This point is the part of the answer where you can (and should) refer back to previous work as it demonstrates an understanding of how that experience increases your ability to succeed in this role. Paint a picture for the interviewer here that shows that you belong on the team.

Again, to continue my draft narrative: “I’m particularly excited at the prospect of end-to-end ownership of the project. To me that means a space to learn in-depth about a specific topic, to really become the expert, and then use that knowledge to either clearly communicate it’s value to others or to help others assimilate to the team as it continues to grow. I’m also drawn to the focus on collaboration with other teams. It reminds me of my time in the Coast Guard coordinating Search and Rescue Missions - it was only when the aircraft crews, medical crews, boat crews, and our planning team had the full and correct picture that we were able to safely and successfully complete missions. Being the person in charge of that coordination, I really appreciated how much smoother things went when I was able to keep everyone on the same page.”

Rounding it out

Your introductions and conclusions can follow the traditional format of “sum up what you’re going to say” and “sum up what you just said.” With the above structure, you’ve created a well-rounded picture of yourself, demonstrated an appreciation for the company and its values, shown you understand what it looks like to fill the position you applied for, and proven that you have the experience to fill the role.

Keep in mind, my script is reflective of my strength roles. You may be more analytical and want to focus on that, or more architectural and want to focus on creation, or more like a renovator and want to focus on process efficiency. To find out your strength roles and how they should affect your career search and interview answers, take the Passions and Talents Strength Role Assessment.

David Endean