Quite a few interviews open with an invitation to talk about yourself. While “Tell me about yourself” may sound off-the-cuff, it’s not. Don’t answer this question in an informal sense. It’s a job interview and not a casual meet-up with a business associate. This question is asked for a variety of reasons. Likely, the person interviewing you is assessing your ability to handle yourself in an unstructured situation, your communication abilities and what you think is important. Some may even open with it to get a sense of who you are and what you’re all about. The “Tell me about yourself” question is often the first question, so you need to be prepared to answer it.
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The Wrong Response and the Right Response
While there are several ways to respond this question correctly, there’s just one way to get it wrong. Asking the question “What do you want to know?” is the wrong response. This response will poise you as being only one thing – unprepared. If you’re unprepared for the interview, the interviewer is likely to assume that you equally unprepared for the position. You need a good answer that is delivered with confidence.
Skip where you born, personal matters and recapping your life story. Instead, focus on what interests the interviewer. The interviewer wants to know if you’re a good fit for the team, whether or not you can do the job, prior job accomplishments and how you can help the company. Be prepared to walk the interviewer through your resume and work career. Many career coaches recommend starting with your most recent employment and outlining why you are well qualified for the job. Think of it as a movie trailer. It’s a movie preview that shows clips of the movie, highlights the best parts and leading to person to want to see more later. When answering this question, provide enough information about your skills and experience, so the interviewer can ask you more questions.
When you’re answering the “Tell me about Yourself” question, you should also be highlighting your most important accomplishments. Tell a story that memorable and include your attributes. For example, tell how you met a deadline with a stick-to-it attitude. Stories are powerful tools for impact and memory. Another goal when you answer this question is give an answers that makes you to stand out from the herd.
Keep It Brief
While your response can be in a storytelling fashion, you don’t want to ramble on and on. The person interviewing you wants to know a little bit about you and not your whole life story. Keep it brief by focusing on two or three things that are interesting but useful. This question should be answered in about three to four minutes.
To be prepared and succinct, write out your answer before the interview. Then, practice and rehearse your response until it sounds natural. The goal is to be brief and pique the potential employer’s interest.
Many interviewees dread this question, but a well-prepared job candidate should really welcome it. With the proper response, your answer puts you in the driver’s seat. It is the opportunity to sell yourself. Plus, it allows you to set the direction and tone for the interview. In a way, it puts the job candidate in charge.
The best way to prepare yourself for any interview is to know what may be coming and to practice in advance. You can expect the “Tell me about yourself” to crop up early in the interview. Here’s a list of other questions that are pretty standard for interviews.
- Why should I hire you?
- How has your education prepared you for the position?
- What are your long-term goals?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- How did you resolve a prior conflict with a boss?
- Are you a team player?
Like the “Tell me about yourself” question, these questions should be answered directly and with some examples. Perhaps, the most important part for acing that interview and nailing the position is to prepared with the right answers. And answering the “Tell me about yourself” question properly will get you off to a strong start.