How to Answer That Sticky "Tell Me About Yourself" Question


How can such a seemingly simple question cause such confusion in a job seeker’s mind? Some people can get so befuddled by it that they find themselves discussing their elementary school education, stint as president of the high school student board, first day of college, favorite flavor of ice cream, and how they bought the car they drive now. Twenty minutes later, they are desperate for a glass of water, and the interviewer just wants to show them the door.

“Tell me about yourself” is typically the first question an interviewer will ask a candidate when they are ready to begin the interview. In the interviewer’s mind, they are just trying to give you a simple question to answer. Think of it this way, the interviewer has just dug your resume out of a pile and left their desk to meet you in the reception area. Their mind, however, is still on the last problem that just appeared in their email. They don’t want to look unprepared by re-reading your resume in front of you, so their intent is to ask you a basic question that reminds them about your credentials and experience.

So give ‘em what they want! You know that there is a high probability that this question will be asked, so there is no excuse for not having an appropriate answer prepared. Before the interview, scrutinize the job description and your experience. What experiences have you had that are most relevant to the position you are applying for? It’s OK to even reuse the material on your cover letter as a springboard for the discussion (though don’t be obnoxious by impatiently saying “as I stated on my cover letter,” be respectful of the interviewer’s heavy workload and memory). At this time in the interview, you don’t need to go into your experiences in-depth, but think of your answer to this question as the trailer to a feature film about your career.

Your intent is to remind the interviewer about your experiences that brought you to be qualified for the job you are applying for. Give them the highlights with enough detail that ideally the interviewer will be able to ask several follow-up questions about what you have discussed so far. You probably want to talk for no longer than three minutes. The intent is to turn the interview into a conversation instead of an interrogation, and the easiest way to have a conversation with someone is to give them information that they are interested in hearing more about.



Source by Melanie Szlucha
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