Interview Tips

A reader writes…

How do you answer the dreaded, ‘Tell me about yourself’ question in an interview? – What do companies want to hear?

Dear “Self,”

Ha! This is how all my “notes to self” begin. But seriously, you bring up a great question and one that deserves a lot of thought.

First of all, let me clue you in on a little secret… the “tell me about yourself” question is almost a guarantee in EVERY interview. It’s how employers like to start conversation. But that’s the key here – It’s a potential EMPLOYER asking the question, not some stud or hottie standing next to you at a bar. With that said, your answer must remain professional and relevant to your work style. The interviewer wants to hear a quick, 1-2 minute summary of your professional experience and an explanation of why you are the best candidate.

Start off with a summary of your professional experience in a sentence or two. Then, highlight your biggest accomplishments, especially during your most recent work experience. Wrap up by describing how your unique combination of experience and accomplishments applies to the position, and how you would benefit that company.

While potential employers want to know about you, as a person, what they’re really after is what you can do for them. Telling them about how you discipline your kids or your interests in the “Home Shopping Network” may make you stand out, but not in a good way.

A well-prepared self-introduction will set the tone and direction of the rest of the interview. Take this opportunity to impress your interviewer right from the start because, remember, you can never make another first impression.

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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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