Interview question: What can you contribute to the company?

An average job interview lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour and a half. During this short period of time, an employer needs to understand whether this or that candidate will be the best fit for the open position. And a candidate tries to figure out if they would like to work on this company and how to produce the best impression to get the desired job. The right questions help both parties to make their minds and make the most out of the interview.

“What you can contribute to the company?”, — is one of the most popular questions among employers. The answer to the question is important as it may influence the outcome of the interview. Read the below to learn how to get prepared for What you can contribute to the company?-questions and craft them in accordance with your skills and the company’s needs.

What does a recruiter want to know asking about it

First of all, we need to keep in mind that this question may be worded in different ways. What can you bring to the table? What can you add to our community? What can you do for us that nobody else can?

Another way this question can sound is why we should hire you? These questions are extremely popular and hardly any interviewer skips it.

When an employer asks this question they are looking for a combination of some really good self-awareness and quality company research. They ask you to gauge what makes you stand out of the crowd, what makes you different from other candidates.

One more important thing that a recruiter wants to find out is whether a candidate will be a good fit for them in terms of the company’s values, aims, and the existing culture. They have only seen your resume and need to have a clear understanding of how you can apply your skills, experience, and knowledge in their environment.

Besides, a recruiter is evaluating how comfortable you are at answering this question. Being hesitant may show that you are not confident enough in your abilities. Being too optimistic and promising too much may also create a negative impression. An employer may consider you arrogant. The best solution here is to keep somewhere in-between — be prepared to sound confident and try not to aim too high.

How to approach this question

Job interview

The best way to approach this question is to think of it as of a mini sales-presentation.

  • Do your research. Learn as much as you can about the company and the position you are applying for. Research the company’s website, review their LinkedIn page, follow them on social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. This research will help you understand the problems the company is facing and what you can do to solve them in your new role. It will also help you understand what the company values most in its employees.
  • Make a direct correlation. Now that you understand what the company’s pain points are you need to demonstrate how you skills and expertise are perfect to eliminate them. What you can do is go through the job description and highlight at least 3 areas that you know you excel in. Usually, job descriptions are broken into 3 separate parts: ket responsibilities, specific job functions, and qualifications. Pinpoint one item from each area that you can match directly to your career accomplishments. If you are a student or a graduate, it’s ok you do not have much experience. You can match the job description to your volunteer work.
  • Build your story. There is a saying facts tell, stories sell. To properly sell yourself you now need to build a story around each item. For example, if the job description calls for someone with excellent analytical skills, think back to a specific situation that demonstrates your analytical skills in action. Be sure to disclose the results you have achieved in this particular situation.
  • Show your uniqueness. If you find it difficult to answer this question, you can ask people who know you well, what are the special features that make you stand out, what you do especially well. Ask family members, friends, coworkers, even teachers. With your own ideas in mind with the input, you receive from others write down a statement or two about what makes you unique. Make sure your unique talent or skill can relate directly to the position you are applying for.
  • Use figures in your reply. If you are going to speak about your achievements, be ready to show something measurable. There is no need to refer to absolute numbers, as they may be confidential, but still demonstrating the success requires at least a percentage comparison. You can say that you increased sales from the campaign 2 times or by 30%.
  • Analyse the company’s flaws. When a company creates a job description they have in mind a clear idea of what problem they need to solve with the help of this position. When reading the description try to find the answer to this question. After that think about how you can impact the situation and help to solve the case. For instance, it often happens that social media campaigns do not bring the expected results and social media marketer is hired to optimize the campaigns and make them more efficient.

Examples of possible answers

Getting ready for the interview

The last thing you are expected to say is that you are going to work hard or that you work well with others. The interviewer is expecting a description of an exact case from your past with a reference to your future position in the company.

Here is how your answer can sound:

From my understanding, one of the key requirements in this role is (name the requirement). I have expertise in it and in my former job together with the team we have achieved considerable results. The company’s marketing expenses reduced 20% and the revenue we got from the campaigns was 40% higher. I can optimize your marketing budget, and show results within 6 months.

So what you did was pulling a statement from your job posting and putting your own experience into it.

Another example can be something like this:

I also learned from my research that your company values (here you can list the values you have found during the research that match your professional and personal skills), and I am really passionate about (name their core values), and had a similar experience which I can use for the new role to (describe what you can achieve).
You can go even further and create a short plan of how you will achieve the results. It should not necessarily be very detailed. The plan should rather show that you know what you are talking about, you do have expertise in this sphere and you are ready to implement your knowledge.

One more example that does not contain figures, but shows very precisely what you can contribute to the company.

In my former workplace, I had experience working with product teams. One of my tasks was to provide that the product and marketing teams communicate efficiently and work together for the benefit of the company. We created such routines that helped us never miss a thing and bring the news about the new products to our customers in the shortest time possible. I can apply this experience in my new role and bring communication between departments to a new level.

As you can see being prepared for the interview means a lot. If the interview you are going to take part in is going to be remote, you may find useful tips for job-seekers on how to produce a good impression during a remote interview in our blog post.

Answers that one needs to avoid

Answering this question, have in mind that the aim of the recruiter is to know you better. Sometimes it feels that such questions may be provocative. Always remember it is not the case. So when creating your answer try to avoid the following:

  • Sounding defensive. There is no need to defend yourself — nobody doubts your skills, abilities, or experience. However, if you start to act as if you are being attacked, your potential employer may be concerned.
  • Listing your personal qualities. Saying that you are going to contribute your hard work, does not help much in understanding what experience you had and what skills you can apply in the new role. Such answers are too abstract and will hardly produce a positive impression.
  • Overestimating yourself. Formulating an answer it is important to be positive, but it is equally important to stay realistic. First of all, saying that you will increase sales 100% during the first month may sound impressive, but is it possible to achieve in reality? Loud words may characterize you as an arrogant and too ambitious person who does not give credit to the work of other people.

Though your answers can dramatically influence the results of the interview, often the employer takes into account their internal reasons. So even if you are rejected, do not lose heart, try to think in a constructive way — trying to learn from your experience. To get more tips on how to handle job rejection, refer to our recent blog post.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I talk about myself?

Do not talk about your personal life or family, at a job interview you are not expected to talk about your personal life choices. You are asked about your qualification and professional experience. So start talking about your professional background.

Try to tell your work story, make it engaging, compelling, clear, and complete. Go back in time to the earliest job you ever had. Tell them what company you worked at, what the title was, how long you stayed in that position, and what your major responsibilities were. Do this for all the positions you had. Try to do mini work snapshots for every position you’ve held up to the current position.

Make these mini-stories achievement-oriented. Add a description of one major achievement in each role. An accomplishment is a situation in which you managed to save time, money, improved processes, improved profitability. It is perfect if this had a quantifiable example.

Once you’ve gone through your entire story, now its time to acknowledge for the employer that you know what the position implies and what you are expected to do in the new role.

What are your career goals?

When employers ask questions about your future, they want to know if they can count on you on a long-term perspective, whether you will stay in the company, or if you are planning to leave soon. No matter what job you are aiming at in marketing, design, programming, or customer support.
It is hard to word such answers right on the spot, so try to think over your future before the interview. Speak about the goals that correlate with the company objectives. If your ambitions do not match with the company’s plans, we advise you to avoid mentioning them. Instead, you can describe your short-term goal — getting the job in the company, passing the probation period, etc.

Then move further on and talk about where you see yourself in 3 or 5 years. Also, describe the steps you are going to take in order to achieve these goals. This can be training you plan to take, special education, or other self-development activities. Mention projects that you would like to take to develop your skills.

What are your top 3 strengths?

The majority of employers expect you to cover this question even if it is not asked directly. As said above the recruiter’s task is to find out what the company can benefit from you and what skills and experience you have. Besides, it is important to make clear why they should hire you instead of other candidates.

Answering this question can be tougher than it seems, as your strengths should coincide with the needs of the company. In this respect, it is reasonable to read the job description carefully, and then sit down and brainstorm.

List your talents, skills, and experience in certain fields that you can be proud of. There is no need to be shy and modest here. Try to write down at least 10 of them. The list can include education that is relevant for the job, soft skills that can help to solve the company’s problems, expertise in a certain sphere, natural talents (for example, the ability to remember things on the fly). After that, you need to narrow down the list, so it includes 3 strengths only. For each point, prepare an example from your previous jobs.

How can you be an asset to the company?

First of all, let’s define what an asset means. Usually by a valuable asset an employer means someone who exceeds their expectations. That means that hired employee needs not only to fulfill the requirements from the job description, but also takes additional projects and responsibilities. So to become a valuable asset you will need to show your dedication in action, constantly evolve and take an active part in the company life. Being proactive and offering new solutions to improve processes is another key to success.

Answering this question show your eagerness to develop your skills and take more responsibilities than the position presupposes. Bring some examples from your previous career, demonstrate that you are capable of contributing to the company’s success.

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