“Tell me about yourself.”
Seems like an innocent question. However, how you answer it could be the difference between moving to the next step in an interviewing process or not.
This question may come up in a variety of situations in your life. A new friend might ask the question or a first date might ask the question. The answer you give to those individuals is very different than the answer you would give to an interviewer.
3 Points to Cover in Your Job Interview
A good answer to the ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ question in an interview conveys three things:
- Who you are
- What you have done
- Where you are going
Write Down Your Answer
It is useful to write down your answer or at least jot down an outline of the points you want to address.
Step 1 – Who You Are
Begin with a 1 sentence summary of your career history. For example:
I am a 15 year Marketing professional with substantial experience in SEO, SEM and email marketing campaigns.
Step 2 – What You Have Done
Based on the position you are applying for, explain some accomplishments that will capture the interviewer’s attention and demonstrate your match for the position. Appropriate skills and strengths should be mentioned in this section as well.
Step 3 – Where Are You Going
To end, you can discuss the next step in your career. This next career move that you mention should be tailored to the position you are applying for. If you mention a completely unrelated next step for your career, you will leave the interviewer wondering why you applied for the position in the first place. You can also end the question by asking a question:
Is there anything you’d like me to expand on?
This question allows the interviewer to ask more indepth questions regarding one of your experiences/accomplishments/skills.
What to Tell in Your Job Interview
- Do tailor your answer to the interview. You will want to highlight specific accomplishments and skills depending on the position description.
- Do practice your answer but don’t sound robotic. Practice answering this question out loud and get feedback from friends or family members. However, don’t practice it so much that it sounds memorized or a canned answer.
What NOT to Tell in Your Job Interview
- Don’t give your entire work history. This is not the time to go into detail on each of the jobs you have held since graduating from high school. Remember, this is just a snapshot.
- Don’t mention personal information. This is not the time to mention your family, your upcoming vacation to Hawaii, or thoughts on the upcoming political race, etc.
- Don’t respond with a question. When the interviewer says ‘Tell me About Yourself.” you do not want to answer with “What would you like to know?” This response does not reflect polish or professionalism.
- Don’t try to lighten the mood by making a joke (about your weight, height, skills). This is not the time to show off your comedic side.
Amy Wolfgang is a career coach who founded Wolfgang Career Coaching and co-founded Coaching 4 Good. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help organizations boost employee engagement while simultaneously helping her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
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