FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- You're at a job interview and everything seems to be going smoothly. Then, all of a sudden, the interviewer asks you, "Why should I hire you for this job?"

This is one of those really tough questions that will probably come up during every job interview. How do you go about answering a question like this without sounding boastful?

Well, the first thing you want to project is that you are confident, but not cocky. The difference is that when you're confident, you can give examples of how you did things in the past that prove you can do them in the future. Being cocky is moving beyond over confidence and into arrogance. It is an attitude that says you can do this job better than anyone else can, even though you may have never done it before.

Being confident in your abilities is good. Being cocky and arrogant will quickly turn an interviewer off.

Ask yourself, what is the interviewer really trying to uncover by asking you a question like this? The interviewer is asking for assurance that you can perform the duties of the new job. This is where past performance is deemed a good predictor of future behavior.

So, have three or four examples ready to share at the interview that prove that you can do or have done a similar job and the outcome of the job. This means you need to know what the job entails. You can find the job requirements in the job description.

Also, know what personal characteristics the company is looking for in the person they want to hire and tell them what they want to hear. Just don't get cocky. Do it subtly by using examples and outcomes.

At this time, the interviewer is probably interviewing more candidates for the job than just you. They are trying to find out what makes you a better candidate than the others. Your well thought out examples will prove to them that you have what it takes to get the job done. Normally, the best-qualified candidate who tells the interviewer more of what they want to hear will get the job. So, anticipating the question and practicing your answer is the best strategy for preparing for this question.

If you need some suggestions to consider when preparing examples to share with the interviewer, remember that they will probably be interested in hearing about how you did more with less; improved processes; saved money, time or other resources; met or exceeded established goals and objectives; improved teamwork; communications; or solved problems. Preparation is your key to success!

Now that you know how to go about answering a tough question such as this, remember that this is only one possibility. There are many more tough questions that you need to anticipate and be prepared to answer before you go for that job interview. Your SFL-TAP Center hosts Department of Labor workshops that address interviewing skills, as well as numerous other topics.

Transitioning service members and their spouses are encouraged to sign up for these classes to learn more about the job search process. Call the Soldier for Life Center at 255-2558 for more information.