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Searching for the right job can be a stressful process on its own, so it certainly doesn’t help when you start to think of your competition, candidates who usually have similar qualifications to yourself.  

The dreaded ‘why should we hire you’ question almost always comes up at interviews, and it can be difficult to answer honestly while resisting the urge to curl up into a ball and think about all your competition. Here are a couple of pointers when it comes to answering this without falling into the trap of reciting a cookie-cutter answer:  

Realize why you’re being asked the question 

 Companies invest a lot of time and money in the hiring process, so they want to ensure the person they’re taking on is in it for the long-haul. The real reason you’re being asked this question is usually because your hirer wants to know how well you fit in with the company culture, and strengths that distinguish you from other applicants who may be equally able to do the same kind of work. 

With this in mind, it’s important to be able to indicate how your values align with that of the organization’s, and how your past experience has shaped how you work now. For instance, you may choose to discuss how you helped contribute to the running of a club at university, what it taught you about the importance of budgeting and collaboration, and how that experience has led you to be uniquely equipped to handle similar challenges you may face within your role at the company.  

Reflect on what sets you apart 

Following from answering by focusing on what makes you unique, spend a little time thinking about specific accomplishments and experiences you can cite to exemplify why you make the perfect fit. Spending some time researching the company you’ve applied to, as well as their core values, can also help you understand what to prioritize when highlighting your own experiences.  

Once you’ve spent some time dwelling on what sets you apart, formulate a loose answer, just the way you would with a sales pitch. The trick here is not to try and find some unique characteristic that no one else applying for the position has, but to think of how you can use your experiences to ensure you do the job well. You want to show how you’re uniquely qualified to be the best person for the position.  

Avoid generic answers, and keep things clear 

Something that is well worth avoiding is going down the standard route of bringing up your time management or organisational skills. Even if those are qualities you want to show off, make sure you’re substantiating every claim with examples of your experience: this will ensure your answer doesn’t look like anyone else’s and will make you memorable in the eyes of your hirer.  

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