“Why should I hire you?”
This can be one of the most dreaded, yet most thought provoking question any employer can ask during an interview. If you haven’t given it enough thought, you will probably just revert back to the hard skills on your resume; you know, say things like “because I am bilingual” or “because I graduated with a 3.5 GPA” or “because I can type 75 words per minute.” But this is not what the hiring manager is looking for, is it? He or she already knows that stuff about you. What the employer is really asking is THIS: “While I know that you meet the basic qualifications of the job for which you are applying, what in the world makes you any better than anyone else I’ve met or am going to meet?”
Hmm…does that change your answer? It better!
What make YOU the BEST person for the job? While certain hard skills are necessary for any position, employers want job applicants with particular soft skills. While it is easy for an employer to train a new employee in a particular hard skill (such as how to use a specific computer program or operate a machine), it is much more difficult to train an employee in a soft skill (such as patience, teamwork, honesty and leadership). “While your technical skills may get your foot in the door, your people skills are what open most of the doors to come. Your work ethic, your attitude, your communication skills, your emotional intelligence and a whole host of other personal attributes are the soft skills that are crucial for career success.” (Why Soft Skills Matter, 2014)
With years and years of interviewing under my belt, I have some bad news for some of you out there, you have a critical “Soft Skills Gap.” After seeing dozens upon dozens of resumes that can often look identical in substance, I can’t tell you how many times a perfectly qualified candidate has failed to turn the spotlight on him or herself during the interview, invariably landing them in the “thanks, but no thanks” pile. So if you’re scratching your head thinking “hmmm….that’s happened to me a few times”, listen up my friends…this blog is for you. Mediocrity is OUT.
When I ask you to “tell me about a time when you worked in a team environment,” I’m really not interested in the technical details of the project. What I want to hear about is what role you took on the team – are you a team player? Are you a natural leader? How do handle disagreements and conflict? Do you have good time management skills? Do you get along well with others? Do you know how to motivate others to perform? THESE are the qualities I want to learn about!
Leadership, personal accountability, conflict resolution, communication skills, creative thinking, inclusion, and collaborative ability are just a few examples of the things that will set you apart from the pack and make the interviewer remember you.
Before you click off this page and switch to another activity, make a list of things you did, either professionally, personally or academically that showcase these soft skills. Commit these examples to memory – and then let yourself SHINE during your next interview.