Answering the “Why Should We Hire You?” Interview Question

Dana Guterman
Updated: July 24, 2020

In many ways, “Why should we hire you?” and its implied “… over other candidates?” is a strange interview question. After all, you just submitted a resume and cover letter telling this employer why they should hire you. And now you’re doing an interview, with the same end goal.

But by asking this question, the interviewer is looking for your take on this whole situation, in one bite-sized nugget. First, they want proof that you truly understand what this role entails and how it helps meet the company’s unique needs. Then, they want to know why you, and you alone, are the best person to fill that role. In this article, we’ll show you how to structure the perfect response, selling yourself as the ideal candidate—in one concise, compelling paragraph. Here’s what we’ll cover:


The basics of a great response

This is a loaded, open question, so it’s not enough to reiterate that you’re qualified for the role. Obviously, you’re qualified; otherwise, you wouldn’t be interviewing in the first place. But the other candidates are also qualified, so you need to take this opportunity to share what sets you apart. The key takeaway is this: If you can demonstrate that you understand what the ideal candidate looks like, you can prove you’re that person—more than anyone else.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: The interview isn’t about you. It’s about how you can add value to the company. As such, the interviewer wants to know that you truly understand the company’s needs. In your response, you want to summarize your would-be employer’s deepest desires as they relate to this role. Then, give your elevator speech for why you’re the perfect match. To stay on track, review the job description and research the company. Then, consider how your experience, skill set, and accomplishments align with what’s listed, posted, or implied. Your final answer should include the following:

  • A brief summary of how, to the best of your knowledge, this role will help the organization meet its current needs.
  • A 30-second snapshot of your relevant experience.
  • Anything that differentiates you/makes you particularly well suited to the role.
  • Assurance that you’re excited to bring these skills to the role (and, for an internship, that you’re excited to learn and grow with the company).


“Why should we hire you?” sample answers

Now, let’s put those guidelines into action. To help you craft the best answer to “Why should we hire you?” here are several sample responses. As with all interview answers, you get points for being concise, so keep your response to two minutes or less.

Publishing is an industry that’s changing by the day, so you need a publishing intern who’s adaptable and organized, with strong writing skills and the ability to hit the ground running. I work as the editor of XYZ Weekly, XYZ University’s weekly newspaper, so I understand this industry—and I’m used to swapping out an article three hours before we go to print. Additionally, I’ve been writing since before I can remember. Last year, I won the Whitman Writer’s Award, given to two seniors at my high school. You also mentioned that the ideal intern can help track grant deadlines, and I’ll do one better. Having run my own poetry zine for the past two years, I’ve submitted over a dozen grant requests—and gotten 10 of them. I’ll bring all of this, and a drive to grow and learn, to your internship.

This answer checks all the boxes: The candidate knows what the company needs, succinctly states how they can meet those needs, and backs up their response with concrete evidence. Then, they add a bonus skill that sets them apart from the competition. Many aspiring publishing professionals are strong writers with great organizational skills—but interns who are also experienced grant writers are few and far between. Here’s another example:

The job description said that you need a financial analyst who’s skilled in using key tools and creating financial models. But your company is all about innovative financial services, that save people time and money. So, you want an analyst, but you also want a strategic partner, who has the desire and experience to influence departmental and business decisions. As we’ve discussed, I know Excel, SQL, SAS, and Six Sigma inside and out.

In addition to that, I spent my previous internship as a project manager at a fintech company, working across roles and departments. Like most financial analysts, I’m a numbers person, but in that role, I also had to have excellent communication skills. It was all about understanding how data, budgets, and forecasts contributed to the bigger picture. As your analyst, I’ll be able to handle the data. And then, I’ll be able to make an impact, improving processes to make the company more efficient—and more profitable.

The candidate identifies the company’s core need and shows that they’re the best person to meet it. They also highlight their unique perspective, which really sets them apart from the other candidates. Last example:

I wouldn’t have applied to this job if I didn’t think it was a perfect fit for both of us. You want a social media intern to review, track, and improve your social media performance through asset creation and better engagement of the ABC Land community. I’m a marketing major who wants an internship that will allow me to build my portfolio and have a tangible impact for a local business.

As the marketing manager for my a cappella group, I manage our digital presence across all channels, including content creation, production, and distribution. Last year, that translated into a 35% growth in Facebook followers and a 67% growth in Instagram followers. That yielded a 7% increase in CD sales and 11% increase in concert ticket sales over the previous season. Making a real impact is important to me, which is why I got my Google Analytics IQ Certification last year. As your intern, I won’t just walk the walk—I’ll get things done.

This response emphasizes quantifiable impact, which employers find extremely compelling. Further, by emphasizing why this is a mutually beneficial relationship, this candidate shows what they can offer the employer—and also what the employer can offer them. Why is this second part important? Because if you really want to work here, you’ll be driven to succeed, and a driven employee is a great employee.


Tailoring your response

It would be easy to spend the entire interview answering this one question. After all, it’s the entire reason you’re here. But when you answer this question, you need to streamline your response—and the best way to do that is to make note of what’s already been addressed in the interview.

What does that mean? Well, if you’ve already discussed how your past experience makes you an ideal candidate, focus your answer on how you can solve the company’s most-pressing future problems. If you’ve spent time elaborating on your hard skills, emphasize what you know about the company culture and why you’ll fit in perfectly. An effective answer to “Why should we hire you?” tells the interviewer something new. You want to avoid retreading familiar territory.


What not to say

This question is at the heart of your entire interview—so you don’t want to mess up. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Not tailoring your answer. See above. Don’t rehash what you’ve already said; give the interviewer something new to consider.
  2. Focusing on irrelevant strengths. Maybe you collect vintage pocketbooks and are a world-class hockey player. None of that matters if you’re interviewing to be a software engineering intern. Keep your response focused on those strengths and interests that add value to the company.
  3. Being too arrogant. Yes, this is an opportunity to stress how you’ll contribute to the company. But don’t get too cocky. You want to come across as likable, not obnoxious.
  4. Being too reserved. The flip side of the arrogance coin is being too timid. You need to show the interviewer that they should be confident in their decision to hire you. The best way to do that is to project confidence yourself.


In other words: “Why do you want to work here?”

Employers ask this question in a variety of ways, but the tips above always apply. The interviewer might also ask:

  • With so many talented candidates, why should we hire you?
  • Why are you the best person for this job?
  • What differentiates you from other people we’re interviewing?
  • Tell me why you’re qualified for this role.
  • What makes you unique?
  • Convince me that you’re the ideal candidate for this position.


Check out our other interview question articles. Learn how to answer: