My posts on adding value to companies, either before job seekers have secured the positions or after they have become employed, continue to be popular with readers. A recent search that led someone to my website was related to this interview question:
“What value will you add to the company if you are selected for this position?”
This is similar to the “Why should we hire you?” question, but it is much deeper. Your interviewers aren’t just simply asking for you to list the unique skills and attributes that distinguish you from other job candidates. They are asking you to tell them HOW you would put those skills and attributes to work for them if you are chosen to join their team.
It’s not enough for you to talk about what you have done historically. I mean, yes, it is important to have a record of value-rich accomplishments during your career, but that’s not what this question is getting at. The person conducting the interview is asking this question because s/he wants to know what you would do to help the department/company right now and solve the problems that they are facing.
So how do your prepare for such a question?
1. Research what is happening with the company.
This can take different forms:
- Analyze the job description to determine the qualities they want candidates to possess.
- Look for press releases on the company website that talk about recent activities (mergers/acquisitions, purchases of new equipment, new hires in the department you are applying to, addition of production space, notable partnerships, etc.)
- Google the company name to see what articles about them may have appeared in the news.
- Talk with people in your network who are currently employed with the company or who have worked there in the past couple years.
2. Think about what you would do if you were in the job.
Once you have an idea of the current activities and pain points, envision yourself in the role. What kinds of situations are bound to come up, given the existing climate and activities? How would you use your skills and talents to navigate challenging situations and reach successful outcomes? Mentally rehearse being in this position and what you would do to alleviate stressful situations, solve long-standing problems, or enhance what is going well.
That last point about “enhancing what is going well” is important, too — you won’t be there just to clean up and kick butt. There may be some things that are going quite well, so it’s worth taking the time to identify the areas in which the company shines and figure out how you can support that success. If you only look at this interview question from a negative standpoint — from how you can change them — your interviewers may assume that you won’t be able to operate within their existing framework.
3. Nail down your talking points.
The first two points don’t matter if you aren’t going to take the time to practice your delivery. Make sure that you are accurately conveying what you saw in your mind in point #2 so your interviewers clearly understand the ways in which you will bring value to the position.
4. Repeat this for each and every company that calls you for an interview.
I hope you didn’t just roll your eyes at that one. This process is not so generic that you can do it once and then practice as you set up interviews. Even companies that are direct competitors have their own nuances that would affect the answer you give to that question.
Certainly, there will be aspects of it that will be the same since you possess the same skills set and the companies are typically in the same industry. But make sure you have a solid understanding of the details that make each company’s circumstances unique so you are appropriately addressing their needs.
But what if this question isn’t asked? Is this preparation worth it?
Conducting research on a prospective employer and analyzing the value of your skills set should be a part of the work you do to prepare for an interview. Putting forth this effort will make you that more prepared to not only answer the interviewer’s questions confidently, but to ask them questions that show your intelligence and deeper understanding of their circumstances.
Image courtesy of Bob Jagendorf
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