'What can you bring to the company?' Tricky graduate interview question
This interview question is actually very similar to ‘Why do you think you will be successful in this job?’. Both require you to sell yourself and to research the employer before the interview. But the company question requires you to look beyond your first job and think about how you can benefit the organisation as a whole and in the longer term.
After all, recruiters see hiring and training graduates as an investment in the future. They know not all their graduate hires will stay with them long term, but will be looking for at least some of them to do so. They will be interested to know if you see yourself continuing to work for the company after your graduate scheme has finished and whether you have given any thought to how your career might develop with them.
What is the recruiter also asking?
- Are you a good match for the business?
- Would you be a good long-term hire for the business?
- How much do you know about our company? Are you sufficiently interested in us to have researched us?
- What do you think are your best skills and attributes? What are your values?
- How good are your communication and influencing skills?
How to (and how not to) answer the interview question ‘What can you bring to the company?’
The simple answer to this question is you: you bring all of your skills, qualities, values, interests, academic knowledge, internships and life experience to the company. But you should never just answer ‘me’. The most impressive graduate-level answers include examples of your achievements and facts about the company: to answer questions like this successfully, you can’t skimp on your employer research!
Use what you know about the company to show why you would be a good match. Think about:
- your enthusiasm for the profession and the employer and your desire to make your mark.
- your personal qualities, such as your drive and willingness to learn.
- the skills the employer seeks and how you have demonstrated them in the past – your answer should show why you would be competent in the job.
- some of your achievements: what skills, values or behaviours do they illustrate? How could you use them for the company’s benefit?
- the company’s values: do you share them? Have you got evidence that you do? Your values are essential because they will drive your behaviour in the workplace.
- the company’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities, such as its charity or community work: do you admire its CSR work? Can you contribute to it?
- if the company has a number of networking, mentoring or diversity groups, do you want to join them?
- if your degree is technically based or vocational, what up-to-date knowledge or theory will you bring from it? For example, student engineers will often be taught and be researching the latest technological developments and so may be able to share recent thinking on cutting-edge topics with colleagues who may not have had the time to stay informed on the very latest thinking.
Your answer could include any or all of the above – prioritise the points that your employer research suggests are most important to the company.
Neither underselling nor overselling yourself is the way to go with this question: avoid both the ‘Um, not much – me, I suppose’ and ‘Me – because I am the best candidate you will ever interview’ ends of the scale. You want to come across as someone who has got good self-awareness – who is aware of their strengths and talents but hasn’t exaggerated them.
Base your answer on facts and your previous achievements. You should show that you understand the company and know why you would be a good match, but it would be wise to also say that you are aware you have a lot to learn – and that you want to do so at that company.
You can try out your answers to a range of tricky interview questions by completing a practice interview using resources from our partners at Shortlist.Me.