Last week on Twitter, a student sent me this question. They said, “How do I answer the – why do you deserve this – internship question?” I wanted to make sure I took some time to think on this one and craft a thoughtful response. I looked up the word deserve on dictionary.com. Here’s what the actual definition says:
to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to(reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation:
It’s often overwhelming and even embarrassing to brag about our merits or achievements. We don’t want to tell people why we think we deserve a position because we don’t want to come across as entitled – a word that’s arguably been thrown around too-much among our generation. But reviewing the actual definition of the word deserve, reminds us that to deserve means to be qualified for or to merit. So the way to answer this question, is by politely and professionally stating the merits or qualifications you have that make you the right person for this position. When discussing merits, awards, skills, or accomplishments – make sure they are relevant to the position. For example, if you are going after a PR internship, you wouldn’t talk about the award you were given for your Spanish class (unless of course, the PR firm represented Spanish-speaking companies). The merits and qualifications you have should be relevant to the employer and the position.
When answering the “why do you deserve this” question, think about what 2-3 experiences or qualifications you have that make you hands-down the best person for the position. Think about it this way - if you had an elevator ride with the CEO of the company you are applying for, what are the 2-3 things you would tell him or her in the 30 seconds you have together in the elevator?
A good exercise to help you answer these questions is to write out your top 5 qualifications – this could be an amazing past internship, a relevant course you took in school, an award you were given, or a skillset you have. Go through each item you write down and rank them – take items 1-3 and those are the items you focus on when answering this question.
Just to polish off your answer, add a one-liner about your work ethic and how passionate you are about the position. The combination of your professional experience, skillset, work ethic, and passion should help you answer the “why do you deserve this” question. And remember, the last thing you want to do is fit the stereotype of sounding “entitled” so make sure to sound grateful during the interview, thank the employer for their time after the call, and maintain your sense of politeness and professionalism throughout.
Good luck, you got this! For more interview advice, check out my internship book, ALL WORK, NO PAY.