Hopefully, you have had the opportunity and privilege to conduct interviews at your place of work. I believe that a good interview process can immediately impact a company’s operations and brand. At my company, when we conduct interviews, the last question that we ask the candidates is the “Why Me” question. Basically, we are looking for the candidate to communicate why, out of the dozens or hundreds of candidates that have applied for the position, should we choose you? I have asked this ending question across all levels of roles, from entry level to leadership and I have heard some good ones and of course, some very bad ones.
The poorly answered ones tend to be generalizations. Describing yourself as a hard-worker, punctual, team-player, etc. does not help differentiate yourself from your competition as most will also use the same descriptors. Another way to look at it, is that these generalizations are table stakes and are the minimum requirements for the position that we have determined you already met through your resume or application. The worst answers are ones that point out the reason(s) not to hire. I once had a new hire candidate tell me that I should choose them because they “mostly tell the truth”; they did not move on in the process.
The best answers are detailed, specific, and personal. While much research may be necessary, an answer that touches on the particular needs of the role, is preferable. Answers that separate you from the pack, but also share some sort of personal details or injects your personality are the ones that stay with the interviewers and motivates them to move you forward. Consider your answer to be the same as the last note you hear in a concert or the last line of a novel.
What has your experience been being a part of an interview panel? What are some of the commonalities of the good interviews you have seen? More importantly, how do you prepare your people for interviews?