answering tricky interview questions about why you will be successful

'Why do you think you will be successful in this job?' Tricky graduate interview question

Want to know how to talk about what you could bring to a graduate job? Find out how to answer with confidence.

Do you speak employer? It can help you to interpret an interview question if you know what the recruiter is really getting at. This question may look like an invitation to brag, but beware of either self-deprecation or arrogance. What is really being asked for is a cool-headed analysis of your own strengths and how they match up to the requirements of the role.

How not to reply to the interview question ‘Why do you think you will be successful in this job?’

‘Because I’m great! Seriously, I’m probably going to end up running the company, and everybody thinks I’m excellent.’

Why is this answer unlikely to get you the graduate job you want?

Not only is it bragging – it’s highly subjective, and not specific enough. Yes, you want to highlight your strengths, but you need to back them up with evidence and relate them to the role. Remember, the recruiter wants to find out why you would be successful in this job, as opposed to any other. It’s best to take a matter-of-fact approach, and let your skills, achievements and experience speak for themselves.

What is the graduate recruiter really asking?

You are being asked to match your strengths to the qualities needed to do the job. In order to answer the question well, you need to have prepared by getting to know what the employer wants and analysing how you fit the bill. So you’ll need self-awareness, analytical ability, and the motivation to do a thorough job on your employer research.

As a starting-point, refer to the competences in the job description, and prepare concrete examples that show you have the skills and work experience required. It will help you to answer with more confidence if you’ve also got to grips with the employer’s culture and direction.

So how should you tackle the question ‘Why do you think you will be successful in this job?’

‘I have the right combination of skills and experience. For example, the job description says you need people with project management skills who can work well in teams. At university a drama society I was in organised an annual charity fundraiser sit-down dinner. Last year I headed a sub-committee arranging the catering and venue so I’m used to overseeing tasks and working within a team. We also increased the amount of money the event raised for charity – up by a third on the previous year.’

Recruiters don’t just look for evidence of involvement in extracurricular activities – they like to be able to gauge how effective you were. If you can come up with information that helps to quantify your contribution and impact, it will help you convince the employer that you’re the right graduate for their scheme or job opportunity.