How to Stand Out in an Interview: Part One
How to Stand Out in an Interview: Part One

Stumped during job interviewThe interview is going so well. Your answers are flowing naturally; you feel like you’re nailing it; the job is yours for sure. You feel it starting to wind down, and you know what’s coming next.

“Why should we hire you? Why do you think you’re the best candidate for this job?”

And you smile and maybe you stumble because you know why they should hire you, and you’ve just spent 30 or more minutes explaining just that very thing.

Why do interviewers ask this question?

This is a perennial interview favourite. Chances are, the interviewer wants to know you’re confident about everything you’ve just talked about, and also what sets you apart.

People who are humble but super-qualified sometimes say underwhelming things when asked this question. At the other end of the spectrum, people who are overconfident (or worse) may ace this question, making countless statements that they can’t deliver on.

Answering this question is tricky, but it’s also an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

What Not to Say

Generic statements like “I’m a hard worker,” “I’m good at my job,” “I’m honest and dependable and I have integrity” are all excellent qualities but you have to offer examples to substantiate your statements.

Step One: Figure Out What the Company Needs

woman during online job interviewWhile it’s true that you should be interviewing the company, it’s also true that they are interviewing you. They want to make sure they will be able to fulfill their needs with your help. That’s why this question is so important: it gives the hiring manager a chance to see how much thought and planning you really put into the interview, and even your career.

Preparation is crucial. To answer this question, you need to have an understanding of what makes you unique and valuable as a potential employee, and a good fit for the role. The best way to do this is by scrutinizing the job posting to understand the demands of the role, and making sure that you demonstrate with concrete examples that you can meet those expectations. This preparation should also reduce the nervousness that you may experience leading up to and during your interview.

Research the company’s mission statement, vision and values; understanding this will help you appreciate some of the intangibles that they’re looking for in their ideal candidate. If nothing else, it should give you some idea of how they market themselves externally, and might also give clues about where they think their business needs improvement.

The best way to answer this question is by thinking about what the company needs and how you can help them fulfill those needs through your unique skill set and personal qualities. Do research on the business before your interview so you can talk about what skills are necessary for success within the role.

Step Two: Explain how you’ll make an impact in the role

Explain how you’ll make an impact in the role, ideally using specific figures and a timeline.

Here are some examples of how you might answer this question:

  • “I’ve worked for a number of companies/organizations/clients, and each time I’ve hit my targets and exceeded expectations. You can see from this report that when we launched product X in those three months, sales increased by 17 percent which is well above industry averages. We also made a profit within six months, which was quicker than anyone had expected. When there were problems with the product Y launch last year, I managed to get things back on track within two weeks and saved our team from embarrassment and losing money. My colleagues have commented that they rely on me because they know they can trust me to take responsibility for getting results even when things go wrong or become difficult.”
  • “One example was when our app was experiencing performance issues due to an unanticipated influx of users after our first marketing campaign went viral on social media channels. The second example was during implementation phase where we had planned for X number units but actual orders were far higher than expected.”

Share specific examples of your work and accomplishments

When answering this question, you should be prepared to talk about your accomplishments and the results that you’ve achieved in previous jobs.

Focus on the achievements you’ve made at previous companies/organizations. Be specific in sharing these examples so that the hiring manager can get a clear idea of what exactly you did and how far-reaching those accomplishments were.

job interview going well

There are several effective frameworks for talking about your accomplishments in an interview: STAR (Situation/Task, Action, Result), PAR (Problem/Action/Result), and CAR (Challenge, Action Taken and Result).

Practice your answers using one of these frameworks.

In Part Two I’ll explain how to take your interview answers to the next level. Hint: your answers should not be all about you!



Do you want to arrange for a practice interview? Do you want to discuss a career, HR, or training-related matter?

Reach out today for a free and confidential initial consultation by phone, email, or via direct message on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

More than career coaching, it’s career psychology®.

I/O Advisory Services Inc. – Building Resilient Careers and Organizations.

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