Interview Question: "What Skills Can You Bring to the Job"

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When you are applying for a job, a common interview question is, "What skills and attributes can you bring to this organization and position?” Employers ask this question for two reasons. First of all, they want to see if you would be a good fit for the job. Second, they want to see how well you understand the company and the job opening.

An excellent answer to the question, "What skills and attributes can you bring to the job?” will address a quality you have, and explain why it makes you a good fit for the company.

The closer a match you are to the ideal candidate for the position, the better your chances of getting a job offer. If you can show the company that you've got the credentials they are seeking, you can help make the hiring decision move in your favor.

How to Prepare to Respond

To prepare an answer to this question, read through the job posting. Then, make a list of all your qualities and skills that match the requirements listed in the posting. Circle one or two qualities that you think make you particularly unique.

You should also take a look at the company’s website, particularly the “About Us” section. Get a sense of the company’s mission, values, and culture. Make a note of any of the skills you've got that would align well with the company’s stated values. Whatever attributes you list, make sure they are unique.

  • An attribute could be unique because not many people have that quality. For example, you might enjoy working on projects completely on your own, which could be a requirement of the position.
  • An attribute could also be unique because you demonstrate that quality very strongly. For example, you might be more passionate than others about the company’s mission due to your volunteer work in a similar field.

Make sure you have at least a couple of attributes in mind that match the requirements of the position and can be considered unique.

How to Answer Interview Questions About Attributes

You can answer this question in two parts. First explain what the attribute is, and how you have demonstrated it in the past (or how you currently demonstrate it in your workplace). Then, explain why that skill makes you uniquely qualified to work for the company.

Your answer does not have to be long and involved, but it needs to both show that you have a particular quality and prove that it makes you an ideal candidate.

Examples of the Best Answers

Here are example interview answers that you can edit to fit your personal experiences and background:

My unique attribute is passion. Without a passion for what you are doing, it is not possible to ideally perform your job. I have a strong desire to help others through improving education, which has led to my past success as a teacher and curriculum developer. Improving education is a key value of your company, and I know that I could bring to this job my passion for your mission.

Why it Works: This response clearly shows that the candidate has done her homework and taken the time to research the company’s goals and mission statement.

My strongest attribute is my determination. I take on every challenge head-on and do what I need to accomplish my goals, even when the challenge is difficult. Every time I was given a new challenge at my previous job, whether it was leading my first team project or meeting a quick deadline, I always enjoyed stepping up and demonstrating my skill at that new task. You stated in the job listing that you are looking for someone who enjoys a challenge, and I know that is me.

Why it Works: Here is a good example of how to highlight an important soft skill (a personal trait, or “people skill”). The candidate also provides a couple of telling examples of how he has demonstrated this attribute in the past.

I can bring dedication and a drive to succeed in this company. I've always been appreciative of what the organizations I have worked for have done for me. I'm a loyal and dedicated employee who wants to do my absolute best for the company I work for.

Why it Works: This candidate exhibits a solid degree of self-knowledge, focusing on positive attributes such as loyalty and self-motivation.

One of the biggest attributes that I'd bring to this position is flexibility. At my previous position, my title was "editor," but I was able to help the product team during focus group testing, and work with the engineering department to tailor their communications and messaging. Ultimately, I'm willing to work with anyone at the company to make sure projects are a success.

Why it Works: It’s always smart to provide tangible, specific anecdotes of how you’ve used a desirable skill or personality trait in the past.

Tips for Giving the Best Answer

Emphasize your value proposition. In your answer, make it clear what you can bring to the table and how you would add extra value to the organization. Feel free to draw upon skills you’ve developed outside of the workplace if these are relevant; most hiring managers are impressed if you not only have training and expertise specific to the field, but you can also demonstrate leadership or teamwork skills you’ve shown as a volunteer or a participant with community or non-profit groups.

Keep your response focused and concise. Concentrate on describing just one or two attributes that you believe would be most important to your work performance within the employer’s corporate culture.

Practice answering common interview questions. It’s also wise to prepare a few questions to ask your interviewer about the job or their organization. Hiring managers almost inevitably close an interview by asking if candidates have questions for them – and they like questions that illustrate one’s enthusiasm for the company.

Possible Follow-Up Questions

How to Make the Best Impression

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER Use your response as a “sales pitch” to impress the interviewer with the unique attributes that you would bring to their operations.

RESEARCH THE JOB AND THE COMPANY Align the attributes you decide to share with the key qualifications you believe—based upon the job ad and your research – that the employer most desires.

TELL A STORY Support your answer with an anecdote about a time when you exhibited the skills or attributes that make you a top candidate for the job.