There's a good chance you'll be asked, "What can you contribute to this company?" in your following job interview. It's one of the most common interview questions because it helps hiring managers assess if you're a good fit for the company's needs.
Open-ended questions like "What can you contribute to this company?" allow you to explain why your specific skills, work experience, and personality are an asset to the particular company.
Answering this question is the perfect opportunity to stand out from other job seekers. You'll be far more likely to get hired if you show your knowledge about the company culture and role expectations and relate your past successes to the job.
This article outlines why employers ask this question, how to answer it and provides sample answers, tips, and mistakes to avoid.
Why employers ask, "What can you contribute to this company?"
Hiring managers ask, "What can you contribute to this company?" to discover whether you have the skills and related experiences necessary to do the job. Companies want to know how you'll help them accomplish their goals if they hire you.
The best way to show them this is to discuss your specific and measurable contributions in previous jobs. Particular examples that support your statements are far more compelling than generic responses, which is why it's essential to prepare your answer ahead of time.
In addition to evaluating your actual answer, interviewers observe how comfortable you look when delivering your response.
How to answer "What can you contribute to this company?"
The best way to answer behavioral interview questions like "What can you contribute to this company?" is to use the STAR method to highlight potential contributions you could make based on your past accomplishments.
The STAR method is a structured approach to answering behavioral job interview questions that uses concrete examples from previous roles related to the potential employer's goals.
The STAR approach works because it makes it easy for interviewers to assess whether your skills and experience are beneficial to the role. Unlike traditional interview questions, behavioral interviews tease out who you are, your skills, and how you approach difficult situations.
The idea is past behavior can predict future behavior, and your ability to meet a company's needs carries over from similar situations.
Follow the steps below to develop your answer.
1. Research the company and role
It can take time to research the company and role, but it's always a worthwhile investment. If you understand the company culture and role expectations, you can make sure you highlight relevant strengths in your answer to "What can you contribute to this company?" The research will also help you answer many other common questions.
Read the job description and make a note of the company's needs. Try to identify examples from your education, skills, accomplishments, and experience valuable to the specific company.
Prepare a few answers ahead of time. Try to align your personal goals with the company's objectives and position. The closer the alignment, the higher your chances of getting a job offer (and the more enjoyable you'll find the role!)
After reading the job description, it's good to research the company. Look at their website, listen to interviews with their team, and read their blog posts. If you know people working at the company, talk to them about what the hiring manager wants. Be as knowledgeable and prepared as you can.
Outside of the company's website, you can also research companies on:
- Himalayas: A remote job board with in-depth company profiles on thousands of remote companies. Our company profiles outline what each company does, its tech stack, and employee benefits.
- AngelList: A tech & startup job board with thousands of company profiles.
- Crunchbase: Crunchbase is a platform for finding business information about private and public companies.
- Glassdoor: Glassdoor is a great place to find what current and former employees think about the company.
2. Structure your answer with the STAR interview technique
The STAR interview method provides a clear framework for job candidates to answer behavioral-based interview questions. The STAR acronym stands for situation, task, action, and result:
- Situation: Describe the situation as it forms the basis for the rest of your answer.
- Task: Outline your goals or problems.
- Action: Describe the steps you took to solve the problems or achieve your goals.
- Result: Explain how solving the problems or meeting your goals contributed to the company, then emphasize how you could contribute if hired.
Using the STAR method to structure your research into a compelling answer is one of the best ways to provide a complete description of what you can contribute to the company that shows your value to prospective employers.
3. Match your resume, credentials, and accomplishments to the job
If you want to stand out, be sure to use the research you have done to create a bespoke resume based on the job description.
You can even use the STAR method to structure your resume. You'll want to highlight how your previous employers align with the role and how your credentials and accomplishments relate to the company's goals.
Remember, your goal is to impress the interviewer with your accomplishments and show how you'll contribute similar results if they hire you.
Sample answers to "What can you contribute to this company?"
Here are five example answers to the question "What can you contribute to this company?"
Example answer #1
"I can improve your email open rates.
In my previous role, email open rates were falling off for our weekly newsletter, and a large number of emails were not making it to our subscriber's inboxes.
My task was to increase the open rate by at least 15 percentage points.
I designed an email sunsetting policy that removed inactive contacts after a month, and A/B tested subject lines each week to drive open rates up. I also set up a double opt-in procedure to ensure only people who wanted to receive the newsletter would.
When I left, I had increased the average open rate from 13% to 35%."
Why this is a good answer: This is an excellent response as it successfully uses the STAR method to show the hiring managers what you were able to do in a prior role and how you could apply it to their company.
Example answer #2
"I can improve your conversion rate from trial to paying customer.
The conversion rate from trial to paying customer was 10% in my previous role.
My task was to improve the conversion rate by at least 20 percentage points.
I taught our salespeople to follow up with prospects by using email automation. I also wrote the initial email scripts for the salespeople to use.
The result was an increase in conversion rate from 10% to 45%."
Why this is a good answer: The applicant has provided a quantifiable improvement in the conversion rate. An increase in conversion rate (and the ability to explain why it happened) shows the interviewer you can contribute to the company's bottom line.
Example answer #3
"You told me one of your company's goals is to improve retention.
In my previous role, the 3-month new user retention was 30%.
My task was to improve new user onboarding and reduce customer churn.
I designed a new onboarding experience to guide new users through the platform and teach them about the critical areas of the application.
Because new users learned how to use the platform, they tended to retain better, and the cohort of users that came through after we released this feature retained at 75% after three months, a 45 percentage point increase."
Why this is a good answer: The candidate outlined how their previous experience relates to something the hiring manager told them during the interview. This answer highlights their soft skills and ability to think on their feet.
Example answer #4
"You told me one of your employer's goals is to reduce their burn rate.
At a previous company, I was in charge of our AWS bill, and my task was to reduce it.
I took action to identify EC2 instances with low utilization and reduced costs by stopping or rightsizing. I also contacted our Account Manager at AWS and was able to receive a one-time credit of $50,000."
Why this is a good answer: It shows the candidate has technical and people skills they can bring to the company to reduce costs by identifying underutilized assets and negotiation.
Example answer #5
"I hired over 100 software engineers at my previous role.
I think this is relevant to this role because you told me Engineering Managers have to recruit their team themselves, and the company is scaling quickly."
Why this is a good answer: The candidate provided a clear example of how their experience relates to the role.
Tips for giving the best answer to "What can you contribute to this company?"
Remember, the goal is to present yourself as capable and confident. Keep the following tips in mind when answering "What can you contribute to this company?"
Emphasize your accomplishments
Sharing concrete examples from your past jobs is the best way to show potential employers you're the right candidate for the job.
Remember to use specific examples that describe the situation, task, action, and result. The STAR method is the most effective tool you have at your disposal to show how your previous positions relate to the role.
Don't be afraid to use a diverse set of examples that outline the depth and breadth of your related experience. Always tie it back to real examples that emphasize how you'd be able to do the same if the new company hired you.
Interviewers ask this question to assess how you'll add value to the company. The best way to show you can add value is to use numbers that describe how you've added value in the past.
For example, did you increase the company's top-line revenue by a certain percentage? Did you grow the company's blog by 500%? Did you hire 25 people?
Data bolsters your answers' impact by proving how much you contributed in a previous role and how likely you are to contribute to the potential employer.
Understand the employer's goals
Whatever examples you use must relate to the particular role and company. Remember, the interviewer assesses whether you have the necessary skills for the job. Not that you have the skills to do a job.
If you know any specific skills or qualities essential to the role or company, focus on those. For example, if you know that the company values higher education and you have a Ph.D., you want to emphasize it. Likewise, credentials likely aren't as necessary if you are applying to a startup that cares about growth.
Connect the dots
Help the hiring manager understand how your experience relates to the job. Link your past achievements and skills to the company's wants and needs. When you answer this question, summarize your best skills and strengths and how they'll benefit the company.
Focus on the positives
If you're applying to a new role, there's a good chance you don't have all the skills they would like. Don't worry. Most candidates won't either.
Talk about what skills you have and your ability (and eagerness) to learn new things quickly. Talk about how you enjoy finding solutions to tricky problems and don't mind figuring new things out.
Mistakes to avoid when answering "What can you contribute to this company?"
There are a few things you should avoid when answering, "What can you contribute to this company?"
Not answering the question
If the interviewer asks, "What can you contribute to this company?" and you can't think of a single example, tell them that. It's better to be honest. Honesty also allows you to change the question and provide examples of times you've been able to upskill quickly in new roles.
Lack of preparation
Preparation is apparent but something a lot of candidates overlook. It's easier to understand the impact you could have on a company if you know what it does. Always research the company before your interview!
Letting your ego get in the way
While you want to show the company how much you can contribute, you don't want to come across as someone hard to work with or someone who has an inflated ego. Yes, it's essential to emphasize your strengths, but you also want to show you can work well in a team.
Don't exaggerate things or lie
There's nothing more disappointing to a hiring manager than an outright lie. Don't say you doubled your target or opened up a new growth channel if you didn't. Chances are your answer won't come off as truthful anyway, and all you'll do is hurt your chances of getting the job.
Sharing examples that aren't relevant
Keep your responses focused on the job. The examples you share should be specific enough that the hiring manager can instantly understand how your skills and experience could be beneficial.
Don't say you're hardworking or are a great communicator. You need to provide examples. It's best to back up any claims with data to help the interviewer understand your impact.
There's a good chance you've contributed to your previous employers in many ways. That doesn't mean you need to list them all. Pick the best and most relevant examples for the role and leave out the rest. The best answers usually provide one, two, or three key examples.
Leave out the irrelevant
Avoid highlighting skills or experiences irrelevant to the job. If you can't relate it to the role you are applying for, leave it out.
Focusing on failure
Avoid examples where you weren't able to hit your target. If you need to tell a story without a positive outcome, do your best to anchor on the things you learned and what you would do differently.
- Brush up on your interview skills: Learn how to use the STAR method and prepare for common behavioral interview questions. Don't forget to ask the interviewer questions too! Asking questions helps you make the best impression on the interviewer.
- Research the company and job: Before the interview, thoroughly research the company and read the job description. The time you invest in research will help you understand as much as you can about the organization's mission, goals, products, services, employees, and culture.
- Stay positive: When answering the question, always positively frame your answers. More importantly, be friendly even if you don't get the role. The interviewer will remember that you were friendly and may reach out in the future.
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