The dreaded interview question, "Tell me about yourself," stumps a lot of folks. People of all ages and experience levels often fail to answer this one correctly, in a way that conveys meaningful information to the interviewer—information they will actually use to consider your candidacy.
First off, please know they are not asking you for a boring chronological recap of your professional history. That is the quickest way to lose their interest! What an employer is really asking is, “Why should I hire you?"
That being said, here's my three-step process for giving them an answer that gets their attention.
1. Explain What Business Problems You LOVE To Solve
Enthusiasm for solving a business problem they need help with is the quickest way to get a hiring manager's attention. Let's face it, they aren't hiring you for the heck of it. You need to explain how you can make things better for an employer.
You are a business-of-one. At the end of the day, you provide a service for your employer. By talking about the problems you love to solve and how you go about solving them, the hiring manager will clearly see the type of employee you are and could be for their company.
2. Show Them HOW You Know This Is A Good Problem To Solve
Companies hire people who can save and/or make them money. So when you provide examples from your personal and professional past that demonstrate the value your problem-solving skills bring, you are proving your worth.
It also shows that you are thinking like an employee who understands that their job is to make things better for the company.
The research you conducted on the employer before your interview will come in handy here. Connect your past accomplishments and problem-solving experience to the current problems you know the company is trying to solve (from your research). You'll impress the hiring manager with your knowledge of the company and you'll further answer the question, "Tell me about yourself."
3. Explain WHY You Want To Leverage Your Problem-Solving Expertise For The Employer
Let them know how you hope to grow your skills and abilities by taking your problem-solving skills to the next level. Also, mention how passionate you are about what the company does and how you feel connected to its mission (echoing what you wrote in your disruptive cover letter). This lets the employer know you plan to focus on being successful and expanding your value to the organization if you get hired.
Employers love candidates who clearly plan to hold themselves to a higher standard. If you make it to the last round of interviews, you should consider coming prepared for your final interview with a 30-60-90 day plan.
But that's the long game. In your first interview with an employer, combining your problem-solving expertise and your passion for the company in your explanation is an excellent way to answer the interview question, "Tell me about yourself."
If you follow this three-step guideline when answering, "Tell me about yourself," in your next job interview, I guarantee you'll create a compelling story that will have the employer sitting up and taking notice. This is your chance to sell your value—don't pass it up!
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.