Have you ever been asked, “What do you bring to the table?” during an interview?
It’s a familiar question, isn’t it?
Well, it’s actually one of the most common questions interviewers ask their potential candidates, and it can throw you off, especially if you didn’t anticipate it.
If you’ve struggled to answer this question before, you’re not the only one.
Read on and learn so you won’t feel flustered the next time an interviewer asks you this question.
- Why Do Interviewers Ask “What Do You Bring to the Table?”
- How to Answer “What Do You Bring to the Table?”
- Examples: How to Answer “What Do You Bring to the Table?”
- Additional Tips for Impressing An Interviewer Asking What Do You Bring to the table?
- Additional Questions to Be Aware Of
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping Up
Why Do Interviewers Ask “What Do You Bring to the Table?”
During an interview, your interviewer tries to gauge how well you’ll fit the role.
Your initial application materials, which include your resume, cover letter, and portfolio.
All of these things provide a small peek at who you are and your previous experiences.
However, an interview is an extra step further; the interviewers are getting to know you on a more professional and personal level.
These questions help interviewers or recruiters note your social skills, problem-solving, personality elements, and other things about you.
“What Do You Bring to the Table?” is a question that helps set you apart from other applicants; what will your contributions be when you join the team?
Why are you a better ‘guest’ at the company than others? What will you do for them?
Here, the interviewer is looking for you to establish yourself as someone who fits the qualities they need in a worker.
This is a great opportunity to list those qualities that make you an enjoyable and qualified person to work with.
How to Answer “What Do You Bring to the Table?”
So, while you may have been caught off guard the last time you were asked this question, let’s prepare so you’ll be more confident the next time around.
It feels daunting, but you’ll leave the interview feeling better if you prepare a response accordingly.
What to Focus on When Answering This Question
A good rule of thumb is to come up with three things to explain that you’ll bring to the table/company.
These three things include what makes you unique, a great candidate, and a great coworker.
Don’t be shy; this is your time to shine, and you can do that in a few different ways:
- Focus on soft or hard skills.
- Share a personal work anecdote where you helped problem solve, boosted morale, etc.
- Show your personality.
- Be specific
It also pays to shape these three things based on the job posting; don’t be afraid to pull out keywords to cater specifically to the position you’re being interviewed for.
We’re not saying to lie here; we’re saying that some parts of your experience are more relevant to certain job postings than others.
For example, if you’re interviewing to work at a daycare, you should bring up your past experiences working with children and how those skills align.
While it’s great that you worked at a restaurant on the weekends in college, that experience probably won’t be as relevant.
What To Avoid When Answering This Question
While we’ve given you a few ideas of good things to discuss when your interviewer pops this question, there are some things you’ll want to avoid doing while answering this question:
- Long-winded answers
- Negatively recounting stories
- Saying “I’m a hard worker”
Being nervous can make us ramble, stutter, stammer, and just overall hurt our confidence.
That’s why taking a deep breath and developing concise answers are important, preferably before the interview.
While preparing for a job interview, you should practice answering some interview questions with family and friends to ensure that answers are as straight to the point as possible.
Don’t beat yourself up if you get nervous, as that’s completely normal! However, the more you prepare before your interview, the less likely you will ramble.
Feel free to write your answers down; while you shouldn’t be reading right off the page, having the words visible can help ground you and keep you on track.
You’ll want to avoid badmouthing your former colleagues and superiors in these anecdotes; remaining respectful is professional.
When recounting an event where you solved a problem created by someone else, focus on your solution rather than assigning blame.
Also, saying “I’m a hard worker” is a basic answer many people will use; thinking outside the box is best to respond uniquely.
Examples: How to Answer “What Do You Bring to the Table?”
While we’ve shared a few things to think about, it may be easier to visualize with some examples.
Here are some ways to answer this question and the reasoning for why these responses work.
I bring three years of coding experience, a positive attitude, and a strong interest in further software development.
This example is a short and sweet explanation of the qualities you’d be bringing to the position. It highlights previous experience and your personality in working situations and addresses your future goals relevant to expanding your career in the position.
I have waitressed for four years, have experience volunteering and organizing dinners at my local soup kitchen, and received certifications in bartending and FoodSafe Serving.
This example works because it’s straight to the point and shows other attributes and capabilities.
Including your certificates in your professional profile speaks volumes about you. It demonstrates to employers that you make an effort to hone your skills for the profession continually.
Whether it’s a certification for attending a course or completing a major project, your involvement in activities outside your typical job shows serious dedication to the field.
I am excellent at time management; I’m always on time for class and have never turned in an assignment late. I founded my college’s first women’s business fraternity and was chapter president for three years. I also made the Dean’s List every semester while I attended.
Here’s an example for someone without much work experience; when applying for your first job, you can feel uncomfortable presenting yourself due to your lack of work experience. That’s why knowing how to capitalize on your academics is imperative.
This can range from highlighting particular studies, showing a dedication to school during times when extracurricular activities or standardized tests took up time, and talking about other experiences outside of formal education.
Recognizing your skills and opportunities, such as internships or volunteer work, speaks to employers in a big way.
Taking an inventory of notable accomplishments will prove to potential employers that you’re more than capable of taking on tasks outside the confines of the classroom.
Demonstrating how you’ve developed outside of academics serves as evidence that you’re prepared for what awaits in the workplace!
So brag about yourself! Almost all the skills you learn in school help inform you about your jobs and are transferable; this final example shows that you’re responsible, have good leadership, and can work hard to get the desired results (great grades!).
Additional Tips for Impressing An Interviewer Asking What Do You Bring to the table?
Here are some other things to consider that can knock the socks off your interviewer!
- Give concrete examples, if possible. Remember the importance of ‘showing’ and not telling? You’ll want to show your recruiter your hard skills at work by sharing experiences, not just by stating that you have a specific skill.
- Pick a point from your resume that you want to discuss. Remember that your interviewer has already seen your resume and was impressed enough to offer an interview, so make the most of it by fleshing it out.
- When it comes to speaking, it pays to remember the importance of confidence. Sticking to what you believe in will help your audience better understand your standpoint and make it simpler and easier for you to communicate your ideas.
You will also be able to make incredible points without the added pressure of being outside of your comfort zone.
Think of it as giving yourself a chance to browse a plethora of topics, yet focus on those with which you feel an affinity.
Try your best to relax while speaking; it’ll help you speak more eloquently about your experiences.
Additional Questions to Be Aware Of
Since we’re preparing for an interview, it’s worth considering other possible questions your interviewer might ask you!
- Why Should We Hire You?: You need to show off and tell how your talents, history of working hard, and other qualities that make you suitable and make you the best fit for the position.
- Why Are You a Great Match for this Role?: Show the interviewer that you’ve been thinking about the role responsibilities and how your experiences and personality inform you about it.
- Describe Yourself: Talk about school and what you did, your passions and interests, and what you’ve been doing since.
- What are you passionate about?: This question is an excuse to be yourself; sell yourself and what you care about. Make sure you make this passion relevant to this position.
- Do you want to tell us anything else about you?: If there are relevant things you forgot to mention earlier, mention them now!
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some FAQs regarding the question “What do you bring to the table” during interviews.
What is the best answer to “What Do You Bring to The Table?”
Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific one-fits-all answer to this question.
Knowing that, if you stick to guidelines like being honest, creative, and passionate in your answers, this shows your recruiter how enthusiastic you are for the role.
What if my mind goes blank?
In instances of stress, your mind could freeze on you.
The solution is to take a second to regroup and then remind the interviewer (and yourself) about why you deserve such a role.
How can I speak fluently during the interview?
To speak fluently during the interview, you must find the appropriate pace.
Don’t speak too fast or too slow, as the interviewer can construe it as a sign of weakness.
Secondly, always think before you speak. Taking a pause before speaking can help you formulate a fluent response.
Job interviews can be stressful, but understanding your recruiter’s interviewing techniques and preparing accordingly can make it easier.
All you need to do is work on your confidence in your skills and experiences, and you’ll be good to go.
So the next time this question pops up, think of your hard work and accomplishments and flaunt them. Good luck!