At least once, every job seeker dreads the seemingly innocuous interview question, “So, tell me about yourself.” A standard in the interviewer’s arsenal, this open-ended classic can be scary.
However, just like any other interview question, if you are prepared and practice, it can be a no-brainer.
Start with your name: A no-brainer, many job seekers panic right off the bat by incorrectly assuming the interviewer asked a loaded question. In reality, the interviewer just wants to see how well you can sell yourself. Just state your name and feel free to include a line or two about your passions and hobbies – but don’t overdo it. You need to pace yourself and save precious monologue time for significant details regarding your career. Your total answer should be short and complete.
Follow up with your background: You should include a brief history of your education and experience. Think bullet points and hard facts – don’t waste time on inconsequential details. In terms of goals and aspirations, mention where you came from, where you are currently and where you want to be. Don’t be surprised if the interviewer starts taking notes while you talk. This is a good sign and means the interviewer is engaged and actively listening. They may refer to these notes and ask questions regarding your statements after you finish talking, so make sure you are honest and that all of your facts line up.
Relate it to the position: This is where the interviewer will know if you’ve done your homework or not. Your goal is to recount specific projects and achievements that are relevant to the position you’re applying for and mix them in with in your background history. You’ll want to research the company beforehand and focus on key requirements of the job description. You need to imply that you are the solution to their staffing need.
Turn the question on them: Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer questions. If you say, “I’m originally from Boston,” follow it up with “Have you been there before?” If you state “I worked on a consumer marketing project,” follow it up with “Does your firm tend to focus on B2B or B2C marketing projects?” These examples probably don’t fit you, but the point is that you have to engage with the interviewer, not just rattle off points. It’s a conversation.
Avoid overexposure: Less is more. Get in and get out. The same rules apply to this age old question. If you sit there babbling on and talking your interviewers ear off with your life story you’re ultimately going to leave a bad impression. Smile, keep a positive and excited tone during your abridged, micro-autobiography and let the rest of the interview commence. You’ll have time to ask your own questions at various intervals throughout the process. Good luck!