Tell me about yourself—Ways to answer this interview question
This ice-breaking yet important question has a way of making candidates blurt out their life stories. But is that what potential employers want to hear?
It's one of the most frequently asked interview questions: Tell me about yourself. Your response to this request will set the tone for the rest of the interview. For some, this is the most challenging question to answer, as they wonder what the interviewer really wants to know and what information they should include.
When an interviewer says, "Tell me about yourself," the interviewer wants information that is pertinent to the job you're interviewing for.
The secret to responding to this free-form request successfully is to focus, script and practice. You cannot afford to wing this answer, as it will affect the rest of the interview. Begin to think about what you want the interviewer to know about you.
List five strengths you have that are pertinent to this job (experiences, traits, skills, etc.). What do you want the interviewer to know about you when you leave?
Follow your script
Prepare a script that includes the information you want to convey. Begin by talking about past experiences and proven success:
"I have been in the customer service industry for the past five years. My most recent experience has been handling incoming calls in the high tech industry. One reason I particularly enjoy this business, and the challenges that go along with it, is the opportunity to connect with people. In my last job, I formed some significant customer relationships resulting in a 30 percent increase in sales in a matter of months."
Next, mention your strengths and abilities:
"My real strength is my attention to detail. I pride myself on my reputation for following through and meeting deadlines. When I commit to doing something, I make sure it gets done, and on time."
Conclude with a statement about your current situation:
"What I am looking for now is a company that values customer relations, where I can join a strong team and have a positive impact on customer retention and sales."
Practice with your script until you feel confident about what you want to emphasize in your statement. Your script should help you stay on track, but you shouldn't memorize it—you don't want to sound stiff and rehearsed. It should sound natural and conversational.
Even if you are not asked this type of question to begin the interview, this preparation will help you focus on what you have to offer. You will also find that you can use the information in this exercise to assist you in answering other questions. The more you can talk about your product—you—the better chance you will have at selling it.