This is another question that seems benign, but is actually quite loaded. Since most employers feel referrals make the best hires, here's where you should play up your connections to the company, says Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace. The recent Active Job Seeker Dilemma survey, from Future Workplace, a research firm and workforce management consultancy and Beyond.com, a career and hiring marketplace, polled 4,347 U.S. job seekers and 129 HR professionals and found 71 percent of HR pros surveyed felt referrals were the best way to find candidates. Leveraging your network also signals to a potential employer that you have the necessary soft skills to succeed, Schawbel says.
"[Communication, networking and teamwork] are skills that you need not just on the job, but for your entire life. People have to understand how this works -- it doesn't have to be a family member or a good friend, just someone you know. Figure out how to get some common ground and set up a lunch or a coffee date with them. Leverage that relationship to figure out how you can work together," he says.
If you learned of the position through an event or article, or if you stumbled on the listing randomly, explain what it was about the position that caught your eye and why you're the perfect candidate to fill the role.