You got the interview, congratulations! You have gotten to the place where many only dream to be in.
So celebrate with your favorite beverage. No, but seriously, this is a big deal, so treat it as such.
I am sure you are here because you’d like to nail your interview, and for that I commend you as well. It is so important to be prepared for any interview.
And even seemingly simple questions like “tell me about yourself” can be tricky to answer the right way.
How hard can it be, you just need to tell the interviewer who you are and what you do?
Well it is not that simple, unfortunately, this question has gotten so much buzz, because 9 out 10 interviews will ask it.
Candidates believe it is boring, annoying and overused. While I do not disagree, it is mainly used because it is a great way to break the ice when you are first meeting someone for an interview.
And it helps the candidate feel comfortable because, I mean, who does not like to talk about themselves.
BUT there is a formula, actually there are many great ways to answer this question.
As a recruiter and hiring manager, here are the main things I look for in a candidate when they answer:
- Ability to explain who they are in 90 seconds or less
- Understanding of the role they are applying for by connecting themselves and their experiences to the requirements of the job
- The impact you had in previous role with your experience that could be directly related to the role you are applying to now
Simple enough right?
OK, so you are in for a treat because I will share my very answer when it comes to winning over the recruiter or hiring manager in the interviews when I am in the candidate seat.
But let’s break the formula down first.
I break mine down into four steps:
- How I got into the field and how it relates to my personality OR lead with demonstrating value
- Between two and three strengths I already possess that are required for the job
- I then add the value that those strengths resulted in
- Tie it all together with a specific scenario or story from work (people remember stories)
The key to this formula is to review the job description thoroughly and highlight the skills and strengths that you know you have and think of examples from your experience.
Let’s pick between two and three strengths or skills the company wants you to have and start writing. (these are usually the soft skills)
Yes! I recommend you write down your answer, rehearse it so that when you are ready to deliver it at the interview you can sound natural and confident.
- Relationship building
- Attention to detail
Let’s say this was for a project manager role and those strengths above were the ones you possessed and are the main reasons why you are or will be successful and a great candidate for the role.
SAMPLE FOR EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONALS:
“I am so excited to share the main highlights of my past 5 years experience as a project manager and how it ties into this role. Based on what I know about “XYZ company” I can see how my relationship building skills will go hand in hand with your mission to always put the client first. The best way to describe what I do is by talking about the top three things I do best in my role [include the skills from the role]. And those skills were really put to the test when [give a concrete example of a previous project you had to use some or all skills].
After a few hiccups I was able to [provide results of your work and how that helped/impacted the company]. And what I learned from that experience was [tell them one main takeaway from that project] which makes me super excited to take on the challenge and exciting opportunity that this role will have to offer.”
SAMPLE FOR NEW GRADS OR NO EXPERIENCE CANDIDATES:
“Yes of course it will be my pleasure, I moved to NYC to obtain my Bachelors in Business Administration. I chose New York because it is the heart of small, medium and larger businesses. That was really attractive to me and it clicked with my fast paced and multi faceted personality. I did a number of internships in places like AIG, Google, and JP Morgan.
I really enjoyed my time there because I built the best relationships and learned a ton about the project management industry from a lens of client, researcher, and executor. What I loved the most about those experiences was that it gave me the opportunity to realize that I was made to be a project manager. I have always been fascinated by the ability to take a small idea and build it into something that can have great impact for a company like yours [mention a specific project that company achieved and why you loved that one], I know you company is one of the leading in the industry and just sitting here with you today is a huge honor. I am so excited to learn more about potential opportunities.”
The main takeaway from the recent graduate example is that you are talking about your personality and how it relates to the job, meaning that you already have the soft skills that can’t be taught.
You also mentioned a specific project example which makes you shine because it means you did your research and believe many don’t do that.
Now that you know how to answer the question, let’s break down some of the big mistakes I have seen when asking candidates this question:
- Remember to keep it professional, try your best to not talk about your personal life. In some special circumstances, this is necessary but it should not be the main focus of your answer.
- Don’t walk the interviewer through your experience of what is already in your resume
- Match the interviewer’s body language and try to be at their level of energy
- Don’t be too self-centered
WOW, you did it, you have really done the right thing by coming here, reading and preparing yourself to nail your interview by starting with the idea on how to answer the very first question you might get asked.
This is one of the questions that really can be answered in many different ways, I recommend you read on other resources so that you can have a more robust idea on how you could make the answer your own.
This blog post has hopefully helped you be prepared to answer one of the most common questions “tell me about yourself”
Now, go get them and remember you are awesome, deserving and capable to get the offer.
Please be sure to comment below if this helped you and how your interview process is going. I would love to hear from you.