As part of Interview Intervention: Communication That Gets You Hired, I included what I consider the 14 most effective job interview questions an employer can ask a job candidate. While there are loads of great interviewing techniques and questions, I feel it’s important to balance time and effectiveness when determining whether a candidate and employer relationship will be strong long-term.To aid in that effort, I identified the 14 I consider the most comprehensive—to gain the best understanding of the candidate’s overall fit in the least amount of time. I am gradually releasing these through the blog and today’s is Number Three. You can see a complete list immediately by downloading a complimentary ebook from our site!

Effective Job Interview Questions #3: “What value do you offer?”

With this question, employers are evaluating whether a candidate can sell herself. Does she have unique skills? Does the candidate have an understanding of the company and job responsibilities?

This question is rather generic and broad and could come in many different forms, such as “Why would we hire you instead of someone else?” “What makes you unique?” and “What special skills do you have?” I love this question because it helps the interviewer understand what you think your strengths are. Of course, simply because you say you have the skills does not necessarily mean you actually have them, but you are putting the interviewer in a good position to probe in those areas. You can also provide evidence that you have the skills to preempt a series of questions.

There is a shortcoming with this question. For the interviewer to elicit the most substantive information, the candidate must understand the job responsibilities. In the event this question comes at the beginning of the interviewer, I would recommend that you gain clarification before responding. If you simply start answering her question, you risk highlighting unique skills that are irrelevant for that position. (I consider this a poor tactic on the interviewer’s part because without clarification upfront, you will likely waste precious interview minutes providing insight that is not as valuable.) Instead, use one of the most effective sales techniques—sell the customer what she wants.

If the interviewer asks this question, simply respond, “I would be happy to discuss the value I can bring as well as unique skills I possess. First, can you let me know which specific areas of the job responsibilities are most important to you so I can focus on my skills as they relate to those responsibilities?” This will put you in a position to highlight areas the employer feels are the most important.

When responding, it is important to not only indicate your unique skills but also provide evidence of where you attained them. For example:

Candidate: “I have a unique ability to sell services within a complex sale. Last year, I was able to secure nine new clients for the company, which generated $10.7 million in consulting services. In five of those cases, we were invited to respond to a Request for a Proposal and won. In the other four situations, I showed the prospects business issues that were present but latent. Because these issues were yet unknown to the management teams, I was able to work with them without our competitors present. I showed them how my organization could solve the issues as well as the potential return on investment. I had become a trusted advisor so those prospects did not feel the need to seek competitive bids. As a result, we were able to secure those clients and have now expanded throughout the organizations, providing other services we offer.”