‘Tell me about yourself’ is a common question employers use to start job interviews. Answered well, this is a prime opportunity to impress them, set the tone for the entire interview, and sell yourself for the job. Answered badly and you’ve wasted the opportunity and possibly even caused them to doubt that you are the person they’re looking for.
How NOT To Answer ‘Tell Me About Yourself’
Don’t answer this with a personal or social answer. This isn’t an icebreaker to get you comfortable before you talk to them about the job. You are being evaluated by everyone who sees you from the second you walk in and greet the receptionist.
So, don’t say anything about your hobbies, your kids, or even how much you want this job.
The Best Way To Answer ‘Tell Me About Yourself’
Every job interview question is an opportunity to give them another reason to hire you. This question is your chance to prime the pump and set yourself apart as a great candidate. What you say here will influence the way they think about you as a candidate and will cement their mental image of you that will last through the rest of your conversation and long after you leave.
What this question really means is, ‘Tell me something that will matter to me as I consider you for this job.’
You should have an answer to this question ready to go before you set foot in the interview. Think about the job, the job description, and the company (good research is key here) and put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes: If you were hiring someone for this role, what would catch your attention? What would be important for you to hear in order to make the decision to hire?
Be careful when answering this question not to rattle off a laundry list of your accomplishments. They have seen your resume, read your cover letter and now they want to hear you connect the dots. It is up to you to bring up the points you find to be most significant and relevant to them and sell them to the interviewer.
Start With Your Education
Mention your degree, or the classes you’ve taken that give you the credentials for this job. If you are a recent graduate, mention your GPA if it was high (otherwise, don’t mention it at all).
Talk About Your Work Background
Briefly hit the most impressive highlights from your career…promotions, awards, recognitions, or key accomplishments. Remember to keep this interviewer’s perspective in mind. What are they likely to be interested in or impressed by? What would be on their list of reasons to hire you?
Keep It Brief
Your answer doesn’t need to be longer than a minute or so. Think of it like an elevator pitch, but a little longer, more in-depth, and completely tailored for this job.
Your biggest goal is to deliver a very targeted message that says to that hiring manager: “I am skilled, I have accomplished some great things, and I can bring that to work here for you.”
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
About the author
Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.
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