It’s Time to Stop Asking Candidates, “Why Should We Hire You?”


If you have to ask someone why you should hire them, odds are you’re not going to. Create a more meaningful interview experience – for you and the candidate – by focusing on “fit”, writes Eleesha Martin, recruiting manager at G&A Partners.

Why? Because asking the question outright is ultimately not a very effective way to answer it.

Think about it: The entire point of an interview is to help inform the employer’s decision to hire someone, but that decision shouldn’t be determined by how well a candidate answers a single question. Instead, hiring managers should use a prospective employee’s cumulative performance over the hiring process, taking into consideration experience, technical ability, impressions from other interviewers, and cultural fit.

Switch your focus to “fit”

It’s that last factor – cultural fitOpens a new window – that is perhaps the most important predictor of how successful a candidate will be in a given position and what most interviews are trying to assess anyway. (Experience is shown on the resume, technical proficiency can be measured with assessments, and impressions from other interviewers in your company should be readily available.)

Learn more: Candidate Experience: 5 Innovative ApproachesOpens a new window

What you’re really trying to figure out in an interview is who the candidate is as a person, how they work, and whether they’d get along with the members of the existing team. After all – just because someone can do the job doesn’t mean they’d be a good fit.

That’s why we recommend that employers replace “Why should we hire you?” with “Why would you be a good fit for this role?”

How candidate responses differ when asked about fit

When asked why an employer should hire them, most candidates will try to answer the question in the way they think the recruiter wants them to, and they may even have a rehearsed answer. Answers to this question are also often focused on things that are readily available in a candidate’s resume (like industry experience, previous projects, technical skills or certifications, and prior achievements).

When asked why they think they’d be a good fit, however, candidates tend to give more genuine answers that help interviewers get a better idea of how that person works and what they prioritize. They’ll likely still mention their qualifications, but they will usually also offer up a more personal reason why they’ve connected with your brand or the role.

Answer this question throughout the interview

While asking about fit is an improvement over asking a candidate why you should hire them, the truth is that you shouldn’t have to ask either during the interview.

Every question asked during an interview helps the hiring manager or recruiter understand whether a candidate would do well in a role and whether they’d be a good cultural fit. Breaking down these much larger questions into smaller, more focused questions allows you to narrow your focus to those skills and traits that are most important to you or your organization.

Here are some other questions to include in your interview questionnaire to help you assess fit throughout the interview:

  • What appealed to you most about this position?
  • What does the ideal workday look like to you? What would you be doing?

If a candidate’s answers to these questions don’t match with the day-to-day realities of the position they’re applying for, it’s unlikely that they’d be happy in the role for long. And if you’re not able to definitively and confidently answer why you should hire someone after an interview, it’s a clear indication that you should move on to other candidates.

What a great answer looks like

So what does a great answer to “Why would you be a good fit for this role?” look like? Below is an example of a response we’d be impressed by if a candidate were applying for a recruiting position at G&A Partners:

“I would be a great fit for this position because I do have PEO (professional employer organization)Opens a new window experience and so I know how this industry operates and is different from other recruiting roles. I’m very comfortable interacting with multiple client companies across all different industries and have the first-hand experience quickly shifting from one requisition that may be in manufacturing to another that may be in health care. Over my 20-career as a recruiter, I’ve helped over 1,000 people find employment and gave them back their livelihood.  I’m confident that, given my previous experience and passion for recruiting, I could continue that success here.”

We’d hire this person. Wouldn’t you?