When prepping for a job interview, most candidates rack their brains over what interviewers will ask and spend hours prepping answers to a litany of possible questions.
But AOL Jobs' Miriam Salpeter says there's only one question a candidate needs to worry about:
"Why should I hire you?"
It may not be stated exactly like that, but it's a question that is asked in every interview and one for which you must prepare.
"It's the one thing every hiring manager needs to know. It may take many forms, for example, 'What do you offer this organization?' or 'Why are you the most qualified candidate?' " Salpeter says.
You can prepare the best answer to the most critical question by focusing on four keys:
1. Determine what the company needs and what you have to offer
Study the company and "be able to articulate exactly how you can help move the organization in the direction it wants to go," Salpeter says.
2. Link your accomplishments to the company's needs
"In order to tell a potential employer why he or she should hire you, you'll need to be able to point out specific instances describing when you've handled the kind of problems and challenges facing the person who will fill this role," she notes.
3. Specify how you can help
Take your research of the company's needs and explain your ideas on how you can help it achieve its goals. "No employer would spend the money to fill a role if they did not have a problem to solve, so you will do yourself and the interviewer a favor if you can make it clear how you might suggest addressing the issues, you'll be ahead of the majority of your competitors," Salpeter says.
4. Remember your soft skills
Attitude, communication skills and more "make a difference between an employee who can do the job and one who does it well," she notes. "Whether they admit it or not, employers want to hire candidates who are likable and easy to get along with."