September 24 2003 - It's a standard
interview question, but the answers employers receive can be far from
ordinary. The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing
marketing, advertising, creative and web professionals on a project basis,
recently asked 250 advertising and marketing executives to describe the
strangest responses candidates have given when asked why they should be hired.
Those surveyed were asked, "What is the most unusual or creative reason
you have ever heard a candidate give for why he or she should be hired?" Here
are some of their responses:
- "The candidate said he could be an asset to our company softball team."
- "The applicant said she was bored watching TV at home."
- "The job seeker pointed out that he had a great smile."
"When discussing why they should be hired, applicants should focus on
their strengths most relevant to the position and how those qualifications
ultimately will benefit the company," said Tracey Turner, executive director
of The Creative Group.
Employers are less likely to be interested in the following points made
by job seekers:
- "The candidate noted that there were no redheads in the company and said we should hire one."
- "The job seeker said we should hire him because he just won big at the casino and was on a roll."
- "One person said we should hire her because she was a cheerleader in high school."
- "An applicant explained that his brother-in-law was successful in the industry, so he would be, too."
- "Someone said she was a good reader at church, and that's why she ought to be hired."
Candidates should be sure to focus on the potential employer's needs, not
their own, during the interview. These next applicants might have benefited
from this advice:
- "One person said I should hire him because he was tired of living with his parents."
- "The applicant said he'd been rejected by all the good agencies."
- "A guy said he was the sole source of support for his puppy."
Threats rarely inspire a job offer. To wit:
- "The candidate said that unless we hired him, our corporate identity would disappear."
- "One person said she wouldn't stop calling us until she was hired."
- "The applicant said our company wouldn't survive without him."
While job seekers should show enthusiasm about the position, excitement
about the company locale may not go over well, as these next examples show:
- "He said we should hire him so he could ride his bike to work."
- "The candidate said she'd always wanted to work in our building."
- "The applicant said we should hire her because she lived close by."
"With numerous qualified professionals competing for jobs, a candidate's
power of persuasion plays a greater role in his or her success," said Turner.
"Applicants need to really sell themselves during the interview, emphasizing
specific expertise and highlighting career achievements."
Turner offered the following tips to help candidates showcase their
strengths during the interview process:
- Curtail clichés. Avoid overused terms or phrases such as "hardworking"
and "results-oriented." Instead, focus on your unique qualifications.
- Get specific. Provide examples that highlight your positive
attributes. For instance, if you're able to meet tight deadlines, tell
a brief story that demonstrates this quality. The more memorable the
anecdote, the better.
- Focus on achievements. Instead of simply describing your
responsibilities in previous roles, try to quantify your
accomplishments, such as bringing in 15 new clients in one year.
- Do your homework. Research the firm thoroughly so you can discuss how
your expertise relates to the particular position and company.
Wendy Gillis, Toronto division director for The Creative Group, said,
"Asking intelligent questions during the interview and following up with a
compelling thank-you note that reiterates key strengths and qualifications can
help applicants stand out from the competition."
The survey was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an
independent research firm. It includes 250 responses - 125 from advertising
executives and 125 from senior marketing executives. The Creative Group has
offices in major markets across the United States and in Canada and offers
online job search services at www.creativegroup.com.