A reader writes:
I haven’t interviewed in a long time, and I’ve never been good at it. I have good references, have worked on interesting projects, and have good skills. But I’m very introverted. If someone asks me, “Why should I hire YOU?” I have no idea. “I’ll do a great job” seems like a ridiculous thing to say (how would anyone even know?).
I’ve done well at all of the jobs I’ve had — it’s just getting past the interview that baffles me.
“Why should I hire you?” isn’t the best wording for this question. While some candidates will hear it as it’s usually intended (“why would you be great at this job?”), many others will hear as adversarial or as asking the candidate to assess themselves against other candidates, which they can’t do without an intimate knowledge of their competition.
But the way to answer it well is to reword it in your head. Translate it to, “Tell me why you think you would you excel at this job.”
That’s something you should come into the interview with at least a hypothesis about. Ideally that hypothesis is what led you to apply for the job in the first place! An interview is a time to get more info so you can test that hypothesis — because maybe it will turn out to be wrong — but the interviewer is asking you to lay out what you see as the case for you being a good match for the job.
They’re really just saying, “You applied for this job because you figured you’d be good at it. Tell me more about why you think that.”
You don’t need to assess whether you’re the best person for the job (again, you can’t possibly know that) — but this is a chance to explain why the job seems like a strong fit for your background and your skills. This is your chance to make the case for yourself!
If you can’t explain why you think you’d be great in the job you’re applying for, it’s unlikely that your interviewer will figure it out on their own, so you should always work out the answer to this before you walk into the interview.