Ask A Progeek: What DO I bring to the position?

What’s our question this week?

How do you answer “What do you bring to the position” in a job interview without reciting the job posting OR going too off track?  What’s the right balance of requirements and outside details?

I don’t know anyone that really enjoys answering this question (OK, I kind of do, but I like a challenge).  The problem with saying “what do I bring to the position?” is that we’re not sure if we’re answering the question, or answering the question for the person asking it, or . . . well, you get an idea.

Really, we don’t know what kind of questions we’re answering or who we’re answering them for.  We’ve just been asked “what do we bring” after filling out a lot of forms and reading a laundry list of requirements (or, just as bad, no list).

The first thing to do is to realize that the question is coming and prepare.  If you’re shocked this comes up, then you’re not ready.

The second thing is to review the position – not just the requirements, not just what people said it is, but what it really is.  Do your research, read up, etc.  If you’ve been in a profession for awhile you probably know it pretty intimately.

With this review, then compose your answers for “what do you bring to this position?” ahead of time.  Make sure it answers what you can really do for the real position.  Feel free to work in a few bullet points or catchphrases if you think it’s needed, but make sure it’s a real answer – a real in-context answer.

Third, prepare to be pre-emptive on this question.  If an opportunity comes up to show what you can do, use it – just don’t blatantly spit out a bunch of catchphrases or prepared statements.  If someone asks about specific experience, focus on the stuff you’ve done and know relevant to the job – in context (as I always say).  Make sure you’re answering the question ahead of time.

If you do it right, you’ll possibly spare your poor interviewer from having to ask “what do you bring to the position,” because they’re probably tired of asking it and getting a verbal tsunami of an answer (or blank looks).

Fourth, work this into your personal branding – very big for us professional geeks.  Is there a chance to show that what you bring to the position is, well, you?  Can you use your meekness as an edge in answering (or preemptively answering) that question.

So the question’s coming.  Be ready.

– Steven Savage