How To Answer: Why Are You The Best Person For The Job?

By Chris Kolmar - Aug. 9, 2021
Articles In Guide

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Surveyed hiring managers agree that most candidates perform the worst at answering open-ended questions. Among these questions, there are none quite as open-ended as “why are you the best person for the job?”

Prepare yourself to answer this question in a concise and compelling manner, and you’ve automatically set yourself apart from the competition. To do so, it’s essential to understand what interviewers really want to know when they ask this question.

In this article, we’ll provide insight into the minds of interviewers, give you the best ways to answer, and explain tips to guide you along. Plus we’ll provide plenty of sample answers, so you can see all our advice in action.

Why Interviewers Ask “Why Are You The Best Person for the Job?”

Interviewers ask “why are you the best person for the job” because they want to hear what aspects of your skill set you feel are the most valuable for performing the job.

To this end, they’ve been provided a list of qualifications and skills required for the role. It’s your job to convince them that you match those qualities better than anyone else who’s applied for the job.

However you answer the question, make sure you’re addressing those two concerns.

Assure them that you possess those desired abilities while also highlighting how you surpass the competition and provide something unique.

Note that the exact phrasing this question varies. Other iterations of the “best person” question include:

  • What makes you a good candidate for this position?

  • Why are you the best fit for this role?

  • What qualities do you share with our ideal candidate?

  • What sets you apart from the other candidates?

How to Answer “Why Are You the Best Person for the Job?”

There are many strategies to answer this question. A few key ones are:

  • Tailor your qualifications. The objective here is to pinpoint the key abilities required for the position.

    Before the job interview, take note of the top skills and duties listed in the job posting.

    For each of them, prepare a short example of a time you’ve demonstrated those abilities in the past.

    Make sure your example is action-oriented and communicates how you provided value for a company. Don’t just quickly state, “I have performed X in the past.”

  • Highlight what makes you unique. Interviewers want to confirm you can perform the job’s essential duties, but they also want to know how you can innovate.

    Maybe you’ve mastered a unique skill or methodology that wasn’t mentioned in the job listing but could still provide value.

    Impress the interviewer by emphasizing your knowledge and explaining how you’re uniquely positioned to provide improved solutions to their problems.

    This strategy is especially effective for engineering and software related positions.

  • Convey your personality. Send the message that you would be a valuable addition to the team.

    Highlight your positive personality aspects such as your strong work ethic, leadership skills, and ability to resolve disagreements among team members.

    Provide examples of how you’ve helped a team further its goals by fostering compromise and effective collaboration.

    You still want to communicate how you’re qualified for the position, but focusing on your personality can be an effective strategy.

Examples Answers to “Why Are You The Best Person for the Job?”

Let’s take a look at an example answer for each of the strategies.

  1. Tailor your qualifications. Consider the following job listing for a software developer position.

    The key skills and duties listed are:

    • Proficiency in Java

    • Troubleshoot software bugs

    • Improve software performance

    • Document code

    Example answer:

    “My previous position as a mid-level software developer for five years provided me with the ideal experience for this position.

    I developed new programs from the ground-up with Java and used my analytical skills to locate and fix bugs along the way.

    I also researched and implemented new algorithms to enhance the efficiency and performance of our existing systems. In one case, load times were improved by 44%.

    I also created concise documentation to cover all changes I made. As a result, new team members were able to quickly and effectively learn to operate the software without additional oversight.”

    Take note of how each of the job listing’s fundamental needs was incorporated into the answer.

    The tone is action-oriented, and the candidate describes how they created actual value, rather than simply stating they possessed a particular skill.

    Using real numbers such as in “load times were improved by 44%” is recommended.

  2. Highlight what makes you unique. Consider the following job listing for a marketing manager position.

    The key skills and duties listed are:

    Example answer:

    “I’ve worked as a marketing manager for eight years and believe my accomplishments demonstrate that I’m prepared for the position.

    I’ve successfully led teams of all sizes, effectively communicating project requirements and delegating talent to achieve company goals in record times.

    The social media campaigns I’ve developed improved target audience reach rates by an average of 22%.

    The reason for my success has been my unique method of analyzing the needs of consumers. I’ve developed, tested, and fine-tuned this method to be applicable to any industry.“

    Notice how just as in the first example, this one covers all the key skills included in the job posting.

    The difference is that this example is much more concise, including multiple items in a single statement.

    The extra time is then used to focus on the final point – how the candidate innovates to separate themself from the competition.

  3. Convey your personality. Consider the following job listing for a sales representative position.

    The key skills and duties listed are:

    • Understands core sales methodologies

    • Meet sales performance expectations

    • Strong interpersonal skills

    Example answer:

    “Over my four years in various sales positions, I have applied core sales principles to create strong business relationships with clients.

    I listen closely to and effectively communicate with clients in order to meet their needs, which has allowed me to exceed performance metrics and become a top performer at every job.

    I also attribute my success to my strong work ethic. I never rest until I’ve reached a goal and always analyze how I can further improve.

    My priority is the success of the team rather than myself. I often offer training to fellow team members in order to improve our total sales, even if it increases competition.

    In most cases, this has resulted in total team sales increasing by an average of 17%.

    I would love to use my abilities and drive to provide similar value to your firm.”

    This candidate quickly sums up their qualifications at the beginning of their answer and uses the rest of the time to focus on their personality.

    The candidate then emphasizes how their positive personality traits, such as work ethic and leadership, have contributed measurable value to the company.

    They cite a real number, “an average of 17%”, to drive the point home.

Tips for Answering “Why Are You The Best Person for the Job?”

When preparing your own answer, make sure it follows these guidelines:

  • Keep it concise. The more you speak beyond what’s needed, the more any important information becomes diluted.

    Pick a strategy for answering the question and then draft your response ahead of time.

    Remove any unnecessary parts that don’t explicitly demonstrate how you possess the key qualifications and how you can provide value for the employer.

  • Give examples and numbers. With any skill you mention, provide an accompanying example that shows how you applied it to create value.

    Do this in an active-voice and a tone that conveys initiative.

    Citing numbers to demonstrate how you’ve improved a process or increased sales also makes a stronger impression in the interviewer’s mind.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Demonstrate value by emphasizing your strengths rather than critiquing the competition.

    Denigrating others is never a good idea during an interview.

    Even if you’re qualified, hiring managers don’t want candidates that come off as arrogant or rude.

  • Recognize similar questions. The question often comes in similar forms, such as “what makes you a good candidate for this position.”

    The interviewer’s objective and what they want to know about you remains the same. The strategies we’ve discussed thus far apply to these questions as well.

  • Utilize general interviewing tips. Remember to follow the key interviewing guidelines that hold true no matter what question you’re asked.

    These include ones such as:

    1. Learn about your interviewer ahead of time. Try to figure out if they’re your direct supervisor, an HR representative, or even the CEO

      Your strategy will differ slightly depending on their role.

      For example, suppose they work in the same software department you’re applying to.

      Including more technical details in your answer will be more effective than if they were simply HR personnel, who likely would only be listening for key buzzwords.

    2. Show off your personality. Strike a balance between keeping it professional and conveying your personality. It’ll help the interviewer remember you.

      Maintain eye contact and use body language to help you communicate.

    3. Recruit a friend to practice answering the question. Practicing your answer in front of another person is an effective way to prepare.

      You’ll improve your confidence in the actual interview.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Answering “Why Are You The Best Person for the Job?”

This question might seem hard to mess up too badly, but some routes you can take with your answer might be a red flag for the recruiter. Make sure to avoid these common mistakes when you’re discussing why you’re the best person for the job:

  • Selling yourself short. If you’re a little inexperienced for the role, don’t let your insecurity show by prefacing your answer with a phrase like, “well, I know the other candidates might have more experience.”

    There are other moments in the interview where you can focus on your shortcomings and your goals for improvement, but your answer to this question should be 100% focused on your positive qualities.

  • Comparing yourself to other candidates. Questions like this, especially when phrased as “what sets your apart from other candidates,” can trick applicants into actually talking about those mysterious job-seekers vying for the same position as them.

    Unless you’re in a group interview, the content of your answers should focus entirely on yourself and your ability to add value to the company. There’s really no way to bring the other candidates into your answer without seeming like an arrogant person who makes assumptions with no evidence.

  • Failing to provide evidence. Adjectives are not your friends in interviews — verbs are. Talk about what you’ve accomplished so far and how that translates into the results you’ll produce for this new company, if they’re smart enough to hire you.

    Describing yourself too much without providing context leaves the interviewer with a two-dimensional view of you that doesn’t help them make a decision.

  • Talking too much. Depending on when this question pops up in your interview, you’ve either already covered a lot of the ground this answer will get into or you’ve got plenty of time to get into more detail.

    In either case, your ability to summarize your key unique selling points speaks to your communication skills, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that more words equal a better answer.

Possible Follow-up Questions

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Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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