candidate.job.millerWhat did you answer the last time a hiring manager asked you why you were the best person for the job during an interview?  A lot of us can look back over our job searches and remember times we fumbled with this common interview question.  After all, “best” is a pretty subjective definition, and odds are you are up against candidates who are every bit as qualified as you are.  What are hiring managers really looking for when they ask this question?  How can you provide a sterling answer which really will shine above the crowd?

There are two angles to this question.

The first is to ascertain some practical information.  The second is to see whether you are confident, enthusiastic, and value the same traits in yourself that the company would value.  Your goal is to provide all of this information (which is both objective and subjective) within about three to five sentences.

From a simple, objective perspective, this means providing a summary of your experience, skills, accomplishments, education, and how they combine in a unique fashion to offer something greater than the sum of the parts.  A lot of job candidates you are up against have similar resumes.  You do not want to just list what the hiring manager already read on your resume.  You want to explain to the hiring manager how the combination is valuable.

Perhaps the most valuable thing you can do though while answering this question is to project yourself as someone with confidence and exuberance—somebody who will show up to work each day and shine.  This has more to do with how you answer than what you say.  You don’t want to come across as arrogant, but you don’t want to be too modest either.  Confidence is about projecting what you want and deserve, not necessarily on exaggerating what you have.

It is a good idea to save at least one of the sentences to explain why you have something totally subjective, immeasurable, and priceless that no other candidate possesses.  Are you planning to show up to work each day with a great attitude, a vibrant smile, and a contagious can-do attitude?  Say so.  Are you deeply passionate about the industry?  Don’t keep it to yourself.  Do you honestly believe that you have more willpower and dedication and loyalty than any other candidate the company will interview?  Tell them.  These qualities cannot be measured, and they are nowhere to be found on your resume, but they are worth their weight in gold.  Make them realize you are the only person for the job, and nobody else can ever replace you.

As one last aside, note that the answer to the question, “Why are you the best person for the job?” can also be used to answer a couple of other common interview questions.  It works equally well if you are asked to talk about your strengths, and it is great for the dreaded, “Tell me about yourself.”  Your answer, while probably quite general, summarizes your skills and experience and ties in your priceless personality traits to paint a portrait of the ideal candidate.

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