Interviews and assessment centres

'What can you bring to the company?' Tricky graduate interview question

5 Feb 2024, 17:23

The secret to answering interview questions about what you’d add to an employer if you were hired is to combine good self-knowledge with excellent employer research.

An interview candidate carrying a bag, symbolising the interview question 'What can you bring to the company?'

Jump to: How to answer | Example answers | How the question differs from ‘Why should we hire you?’ | More interview questions

This interview question can be asked in various ways, including ‘What value would you bring to our organisation?’ and ‘How could you contribute to our company?’. For graduates, who typically don’t have a decades of work experience behind them to draw upon, the question can feel especially daunting. However, it is easier to answer than you might think. You just need to show why you’d be as good for the organisation as they would be good for you, by drawing connections between what you know about yourself and what you know about the employer.

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Spend a minute with our targetjobs career expert as she summarises how to approach this common interview question.

Our targetjobs career expert talks through things to bear in mind when answering 'What can you bring to an employer?'

How to answer the 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, of course,you should never just answer ‘me’. Instead, follow our steps to structuring a successful answer.

1. Know what you are being asked

It’s rare that interview questions only assess you on one thing. Questions about how you’d contribute to the employer are really asking you multiple questions in one:

  • How much do you know about our company? Are you sufficiently interested in us to have researched us?
  • Would you fit in with our company culture?
  • How self-aware are you?
  • Do you have the right skills, attributes and values to help us achieve our aims while being a supportive colleague?
  • How good are your communication and influencing skills? (ie can you make a ‘good case’ for why we should hire you?)

2. Combine company research with self-reflection

The most impressive graduate-level answers use examples of your achievements, strengths, values, interests and so on, plus facts about the company, to show 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.
  • your key 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 networking, mentoring or diversity groups, do you want to join them?
  • if your degree is technically based or vocational, what up-to-date knowledge will you bring from it? For example, student engineers will often be learning about 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 about 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.

3. Let your achievements sell themselves

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.

Example answers

The answers below combine a couple of different things that these candidates could contribute to their employer – just to show you how you can structure an answer. To truly be compelling, your answer will need to be genuine and authentic, based on your personal reasons for applying.

Example 1

‘I’d bring all of my skills, abilities and passion for the industry and your organisation. For example, I’ve been impressed by your track record on innovating clean energy creation and I share your mission to make the world a more sustainable place. I believe I demonstrated this passion and my ability to innovate by taking part in Formula Student and building a zero-emission electric vehicle that finished second in the Shell Eco-Marathon event. I’d like to build on this skill set with you while actively contributing to your mission.’

Example 2

‘I’d bring my desire to excel in the role, plus the key skills you are looking for and an ambition to actively contribute to the company culture. I understand that this role will involve achieving commercial targets and I believe my experience of being in telesales where I exceeded my set targets for two years will enable me to hit the ground running in the role: for example, I was praised for my emotional intelligence and commercial understanding. At the same time, I’m inspired by the charitable work you have been doing with Scope through your Ability employee network and I’d love to be able to contribute to that.’

How is this interview question different from ‘Why should we hire you?’?

‘What can you bring to the company?’ is actually very similar to ‘Why do you think you will be successful in this job?’ (AKA ‘Why should we employ you?’). In fact, our example answer for that question looks, at first glance, almost exactly like the example answers in this article.

This is because both of these questions require you to sell yourself and to research the employer before the interview. But our answers to the company question looks beyond the first job and considers how the candidate could 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.

More tricky interview questions… answered

Get help on answering more difficult interview questions with our article on the top nine tough tricky interview questions and answers .

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 .

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