How many times have you landed an interview, prepped to talk about your accomplishments, planned your ending questions for the company, only to have the interviewer start the conversation with, “So…tell me about yourself”. Our minds naturally race between whether they are asking about “you” the candidate or “you” the person. Have they read my resume? Do they want to know where I grew up and what I like to do for fun? It’s very easy to get yourself tripped up on this opening question and it could possibly derail the initial impression you want to portray.
This question zeroes in on one of the most important skills you as a candidate can possess to stand out…COMMUNICATION.
This is a question many of us tend to “wing” because we feel comfortable that we know how to answer it. However, many of us end up rambling and not putting a cohesive response together to stress the point of you being there…pitching yourself as the best candidate they’ll interview for this role.
Here are a couple of things to think about as you prepare for this question:
- Try and avoid going through a chronological story of your past which is already listed on your credentials. You need to believe the interviewer has reviewed your background before meeting you. This is a chance to be creative about telling your story. Think of it like a compelling cover letter but in person.
- During your answer, give them a taste as to why their organization will become better if they were to hire you. This takes a little homework and research on the interviewer and company. All of this information will help you shape your response to one they WANT to hear because it becomes about them and their needs…not about you.
- Keep your answer to a minute or two or you take a risk of losing their attention. This is where situational awareness becomes key as it will be important to read the room and see if their ready to move on or hear more.
In the end, if done correctly, you are going to leave the interviewer a couple of key points they are going to want to follow up on during your conversation which will ultimately give you an advantage over your competition.