Interviewing

Interview Question: "What Can You Contribute to This Company?" in Your Next Interview

August 13, 2020

Interview questions are often generalized and open-ended to help start a conversation between you and the interviewer. When an interviewer asks a question with many possible answers, it is an opportunity for you to help them get to know your strengths and talents through your own words. Preparing a response to common questions in advance can help you feel confident and present yourself and your previous work experience accurately. In this article, we discuss how to answer the interview question "What can you contribute to this company?" and include sample answers to help you plan your own.

Why employers ask "What can you contribute to this company?"

Employers often choose to interview a job candidate based on their resume or skills, but the people they hire should also demonstrate an ability to fit into the company culture, get along with other employees and contribute value beyond a set of skills. A question like "What can you contribute to this company?" allows an interviewer to learn things like how you see yourself fitting into company culture, your personal approach to working with others, the strength of your work ethic and how you can be an asset in the job.

In addition to evaluating your actual answer, an interviewer may also observe how comfortable you feel in delivering your response. They may be looking for a response that contains specific and measurable prior job successes and details that help them see how your work experience or personality might work well in the position. Examples that support your statements are usually more powerful than generic responses.

Thinking about this question and your answer in advance can help you reflect on your career and identify prior tasks or responsibilities that show your contributions to your previous employers.

Related: Interview Question: "What Skills Would You Bring to the Job?"

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How to answer "What can you contribute to this company?"

"What can you contribute to this company?" is a question that helps you expand on the facts listed on your resume with examples and specifics. In order to answer this question in the most meaningful way, consider the following approach:

1. Provide concrete examples from your past. For example, if your resume indicates that you managed a team for ongoing projects, you can describe the nature of one project, explain how many other employees were on your team and describe any specific successes, such as meeting product launch deadlines, internal company awards or sales figures. You might describe your management approach and hiring practices or how you assembled your team.

2. Discuss your skills. Your resume may list your skills, but it does not always expound on how you were able to use those skills to bring value to the company you worked for. Saying something like "I have excellent communication skills" does not explain well how you applied that skill. You could try something like, "One of my roles in human resources was to help facilitate problem-solving between conflicting co-workers. I developed and trained all employees on a program with conflict resolution techniques. We had a lot of success in resolving some long-standing interpersonal problems".

3. Demonstrate how your skills fit with this specific company. A hiring manager will want to know that you have researched the company where you are interviewing and that you have some knowledge of the company's culture and values, as well as understanding the specific job. You could structure your answer to show your vision for this job. If you believe you have excellent customer service skills and you have learned that the company takes great pride in its product warranties and 24-hour customer service access, you could explain how your previous experience has trained you to work for a company with this mission.

4. Support your answers with data. If your job experience includes statistics you can cite to demonstrate your past performance, it can be a useful way to show a hiring manager measurable ways you have contributed in the past. Stats like your sales figures, how you implemented improvements to a process or met deadlines show what you are capable of contributing.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a Resume

Example answers

The job you are applying for and your skills will determine the best way to answer this question. Here are some sample answers for three different professions:

Example 1: Administrative assistant

"I excel at multi-tasking in a fast-paced office environment. At my previous job, I managed four executives' schedules and assisted the office manager by opening the office every day, among other tasks as needed. I can do the same job every day, and I can be flexible with a list of different daily tasks that I am handed when I get to work. One of the reasons I applied for this job is because I have been impressed with the culture of productivity and passion for the products you sell. I know I can be a valuable support resource to allow you to prioritize your workload."

Example 2: Project manager

"The last project I worked on at my previous job was the creation of a mobile application that integrated meal planning and supermarket shopping lists. It started out as my simple idea and evolved into a team of eight working on it. We beat our submission deadline by two weeks, and shortly after launch, our application was discussed on an influential cooking podcast. We saw our downloads quadruple that week. I helped our team meet and exceed every deadline and goal, and I believe I can bring that same kind of motivation to this cookbook project."

Example 3: Salesperson

"I discovered how much I love sales during the last year when I was promoted to be a member of the traveling sales team at my last company. After the first six months, I was given the Top Regional Sales Award for signing new clients. Though I enjoyed the challenges of traveling to meet customers in many different locations, I look forward to establishing relationships with some local contacts and offering them my focused efforts. I have used your company's products for years and can give strong testimonials from experience."