By the time you step into an interview, your confidence is brimming about your technical fit for the job. Without doubt, you are ready to talk about past accomplishments how they prepared you for this new opportunity. Yes, walking an interviewer through your resume is not problem – you could do that in your sleep, right?
Are you ready, though, for the hiring manager’s first, face-to-face conversation that will begin with them simply saying, “Tell us about yourself”?
If you’re not prepared for this common question, you’re not alone. And, as benign as the statement sounds, your answer is important. Your response, after all, can send your interview in many directions – the fast track to an offer or, unfortunately, into the “not a good fit” pile.
Trust me, we’ve seen it all – from candidates presenting a 30-minute monologue that are far too detailed and edgy, to unprepared job seekers stuttering through their frustrations with their current boss.
If you want the job, you MUST put together a succinct, thoughtful answer to this seemingly easy statement.
We can help in a just a few steps.
Step 1: Understand WHY the interviewer wants to know about you.
In a video aired on CNBC, expert Suzy Welch, explains that interviewers are not simply breaking the ice when asking this open-ended question. They want to understand personal characteristics that can be attributable to past (and future) professional performance for you.
“The interviewer, usually your future boss, wants to know the parts of your life story that relate to your doing well in the open job,” Welch says.
Remember that the interviewer is sizing you up for their company – the culture, the job and the possibility of talking with you in the break room.
Step 2: Outline your answer WITH the job posting
While crafting an answer to “Tell me about yourself”, think about the skills the job requires and how your experiences highlight those characteristics.
For example, a candidate for a Superintendent position might choose to draw attention to meeting deadlines and building a culture of teamwork.
If the job posting requires computer expertise, a candidate should not be afraid to tell anecdotes about interests in automating processes or an interest in learning new systems.
Make sure, as Indeed.com recommends, that you highlight your personality but avoid getting too personal by talking about marital status, comments about kids or political views.
Step 3: Practice your answer with a trusted friend, spouse or colleague
Whether you prepare and practice by reciting a scripted answer or answering “Tell me about yourself” in front of the bathroom mirror, having heard the words prior to the interview is powerful preparation.
Monster recommends stopping short of memorizing a script. They suggest being familiar with the points you’d like to make and what you have to offer the interviewer, but avoid sounding “salesy” and over-rehearsed like a news reporter.
Step 4: End with a handoff to the Interviewer
As you wind your description of the skills you will bring to the table on Day 1 using your life’s experience as evidence, conclude with a statement that helps the interviewer transition to the questions they have prepared.
This creates a natural ending that exudes empathy toward the hiring manager.
Some examples might include:
“I appreciate your time today and encourage you to ask me anything that will help in your hiring process.”
“Thank you for having me in. With that, please ask me anything you’d like.”
“I can’t wait to hear more from you about the company and position.”
While “Tell me about yourself” is, both, simple and terrifying, using the steps should ease your mind as your interview begins.
You know it’s coming, so prepare to turn this dreaded, open-ended interview ice-breaker into a springboard toward a lights-out interview that lands you the job offer you want.
Need help preparing for an interview? Contact Goliath today!