How To Answer The Most Important Question In An Interview

Imagine this: You’re interviewing for a new job. You’re doing great. You answered every question confidently, and it’s clear that you are impressing your interviewers.

Then, the single most crucial question gets asked, and how you answer this one question can make or break the entire interview. Answer it well, and you’ve got the job. Stumble over your words or freeze, and your job search will continue.

As a hiring manager for more than 10 years, I can tell you that sometimes, interviews come down to just a single question. Your answer to this question is what your interviewers will remember long after the interview.

And guess what? It’s not a trick question.

In fact, it’s so essential that too many candidates have a tough time answering it.

How to Answer the Most Important Question in an Interview

What is the most important question you’ll get in an interview? Simple:

“What makes you the best candidate for the job?”

You may hear it slightly differently. For instance, “Why should we hire you?” and “Why do you deserve this job?” are common forms of asking the same fundamental question.

This is your time to shine because too many candidates freeze. Like a punch in the face, they weren’t expecting a point-blank question like this.

Expect it. It gives each job candidate a chance to pull together all their education, experience and skills into a neat little package. If delivered well, they will have no choice but to hire you.

Here’s how to answer this critical question.

Understand the job role

Just as you would tailor your resume for a specific job, tailor your answer to this question based on particular skills and experiences the employer needs. For instance, focus on your skills that match the job description. If the job requires a certification (that you have), tailor your answer so it hits on that certification. Mention the exact skills you bring to the table that the employer is looking for. After all, that makes you the best candidate for the job.

Discuss related accomplishments

Dig around in your past to pick out specific experiences and accomplishments that taught you the skills needed for this job. If you’re interviewing for a sales position, talk briefly about that time you broke the sales record at your previous employer. Or, maybe you are interviewing for a software development position? Point out how experienced you are with the exact coding resources and development environments this employer uses. Be specific.

Don’t forget about personality

Your answer to this question does not need to be purely technical or business. Let your personal traits shine. For instance, your acute attention to detail could make you suitable for a management position. And your ability to confidently speak in public makes you the perfect candidate for a public-facing position that requires giving presentations or talks.

Your personality counts!

Confidence is key

Confident answers will impress your interviewers, and there is no better way to do this than by practicing your answer to this question. Recite your response in front of a mirror. Or, ask a trusted friend or family member to listen to your answer. There is no downside to rehearsing your response to this question because even if your interviewers don’t ask this question, feel free to give your answer anyway at the end of the interview.

3 Examples

Here are a few examples of good answers to this critical question.

Example #1:

I am confident that my 10-years of experience using Microsoft’s Visual Studio software development environment will help me hit the ground running in this new position. As I mentioned, I managed a six-person development team at my previous employer. I’ve seen all the problems, and working through these challenges daily as the team leader makes me a great and well-rounded candidate for this role.

Example #2:

My childhood was less than stable, and I had to grow up fast. Those struggles made me a flexible and patient person, which is critical for this role as a manager. My childhood taught me the value of honesty and hard work, and I always bring both of those qualities to work with me every day. I am ready to accept the responsibilities of this job and do whatever I can to make this company prosper in the future.

Example #3:

In my last role, I managed to out-sell all of my coworkers and bring the company more than $10 million in additional revenue. Coupled with my communications degree from Princeton University, my previous experience and qualifications have prepared me to fully excel in this role. In fact, I expect that I will be one of your top salespeople within three months.

Practice Makes Perfect

In conclusion, I cannot stress enough how important it is to practice your answer to this question. Rehearsed answers are delivered confidently and smoothly. It clearly shows when you have spent time with this question, and your interviewers will appreciate it.

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Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at