Preparing for an interview can be an art form.
Every little detail of the information you choose to give or withhold from the employer, will likely have a large impact on how they see you. Knowing what professional and personal information to prepare will help you have an effective strategy for approaching any question.
Many “warm-up” questions are used by interviewers to judge a person’s character. While these are often formalities, one of these warm up questions should lead to you communicating a proper professional introduction.
The question is “tell me about yourself,” and how you answer it could either prep you for a great interview or leave the interviewer feeling less than optimistic about your potential as a candidate.
The biggest mistake candidates make when asked “tell me about yourself,” is actually telling the interviewer too much about your personal self. While some brief remarks about your person can be useful and charming, taking this question as a cue to ramble on about your hometown, loved ones or hobbies will be sure to put your interviewer in a bored state. Just consider how you might feel if you asked a potential employee “tell me about yourself” and they wasted your time with a 20-minute irrelevant story about their prized dog FiFi.
Instead of going this direction, try using this question as an opportunity for summarizing your past career history, accomplishments, and future career goals.
Breaking this answer down into a pre-prepared, three-section gem, can help you increase your chances of landing your dream job. With a well-thought out and prepared answer to this question, the interviewer will be able to focus their questions toward you more effectively, which will help them realize your worth as a potential employee.
The first section of this pre-prepared stunner of an answer should be a concise, one-sentence account of your current career history.
For example, if you are a fledgling software engineer who has only recently been working professionally in your field, your sentence may be constructed as follows: “Although I am relatively new within the software engineering and development field, I have already interned for a major company and worked in a strong entry-level position with my last employer.”
Of course, this sentence will be adjusted for your own personal past, but you get the idea.
Next you will want to go into a sentence or two describing your most impressive career accomplishment thus far.
Make sure not to ramble on about the accomplishment, however, and always make sure the accomplishment you choose is relevant to the position you are seeking. Additionally, if you feel your choice can not be effectively summed up in one or two sentences, you may want to reconsider which story you go with.
Continuing with the software engineer example, your sentence might read something like this: “Recently, I was able to overcome a difficult programming obstacle that was holding back a project my company was working on. Even seasoned employees were having trouble cracking this difficult task, but with the innovative training I received during my education, I was able to find a solution that fit our goals.”
Finally, you must complete your answer to “tell me about yourself,” with a statement of future career goals and how the position you are seeking can help you achieve them.
Showing a dedication to both your workplace and your personal goals is an attractive quality that employers seek, so adding this element to your answer is important.
Alike section 2, this third section should be roughly one or two sentences long. Preparing this section to flow naturally with the other two sections is important.
Here is a good example of a properly constructed third section: “Right now I am seeking to land a stable and challenging position within an environment that can benefit from the innovative programming approach I bring to the table. I feel this company provides that and gives me an opportunity to grow inside of a respected and equally innovative environment.”
Getting hired is often as much about effectively self-promoting as it is about actual skillset and experience. By prepping your answer to the “tell me about yourself” question in the manner outlined in this article, you can quickly and effectively provide both of these elements within a few sentences.
Gaining the respect, attention, and interest of your interviewer or hiring manager is essential to succeeding in your initial interview. If you deliver this answer and others correctly, you will be sure to land a second interview or even the dream job itself!