05/23/2022 by Kori Burkholder
How To Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” In a Job Interview
For many, the #1 dreaded interview question is “tell me about yourself.” Unfortunately, some people don't spend much time preparing for this one enough, and it is not as difficult as you may think when you have the formula to guide you.
When you are in the process of making a career change, being interview ready is critical, and I mean before you even land an interview. So, if you are thinking about getting a new job that suits your needs, start now and get ready; it'll be the key to your success.
"Tell me about yourself" will be the first question interviewers will ask, more likely than not. They are digging for whether you are the right fit for the role, your skills, qualifications, and whether or not you'll be an asset to the company. Another way of looking at this question is, "why should we hire you?"
You've got 7 seconds to make a first good impression, so make them count!
Tips on how to prepare for "Tell Me About Yourself" In a Job Interview
Don't read your resume verbatim or include unnecessary jobs, skills, challenges, or experience in your story. The last thing you want to see is your interviewer's eyes glass over. If that's the case, you've gone on a tangent or off-topic.
Prepare by having the full job description handy for your reference. Next, take the job description and pull the most relevant themes. For example, themes could be leadership, entrepreneurship, partner relations, analytical, results-driven, industry knowledge, etc. A helpful tool to find themes and keywords is to use a Chrome extension like JobSeer or a WordCloud. Both of these scrub data from the job description and highlight relevant keywords.
You want to frame your answer with your audience in mind. For example, talking to a recruiter or H.R. person will be different than talking to the hiring manager or a CEO. Get into their headspace and talk about the pieces that would be the most relevant to them.
Once you have the relevant themes aligned with the job description, and your target audience in mind, build a story around what you've done in the past, what you are doing now, and what you'd like to do, keeping in mind the impact and or results you've achieved that will be most relevant for them to hear.
Try to keep your story under 2 minutes.
As an example of a job description summary, a career consultant wants to apply to:
An independent career consultant came across an exciting opportunity at X company as a "Career Services Representative." X company wants someone who is dynamic and wants a fast-paced growth opportunity. Primary functions are student graduate job search, interviewing guidance, employer relationships, and meeting placement goals. In addition, the Career Services Representative works directly with students, alumni, and employers to successfully attain their career aspirations and employment goals.
She would want to build her story around career services (job search, interviewing, job placement, hitting goals), management skills, and relationship building and then break it down into past, present, and future.
Ever since I graduated college with an Arts Administration degree, my mission has been to have a creative career. I have successfully changed career directions over the last 25 years, which inspired me to become a full-time career consultant five years ago.
Since then, I've worked with thousands of clients coaching one-to-one and group coaching settings on topics like career exploration, mindset, job search strategy, resume guidance, and interviewing skills. Part of building up the business and the success of my clients has been building relationships with H.R. managers, recruiters, resume writers, and professionals in specific industries to help connect my clients to the right opportunities. As a result, 95% of my clients who complete the program achieve their goals, whether landing a new job, getting a raise or promotion, or starting a business.
When I saw this opportunity, I wanted to pursue it because of the impact you're having on the lives of your culinary students. I believe the experience I gained and the success I have achieved with my young corporate clients make me uniquely qualified to progress into your role as a Career Representative for your company. I love the idea of helping young creative culinary students who are learning a specific art and skill and leveraging my skill set, expertise, and experience to place them in jobs they love.
Notice the keywords from the job summary and how it's relevant to the audience, in this case, the hiring manager—tying together past, present, future, and the experience and skills to match their needs.
Once you have your story down, practice in the mirror and with others until it becomes natural, but don't try to memorize it, it'll come across as too rehearsed. Add your personality and passion to the storytelling. Your interviewer will want to see this because it makes you unique and personable! Time it out, preferably under 2 minutes.
You are ready to make a great first impression, maximizing the first 7 seconds!
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