I’m Linda Raynier of lindalaynier.com, career Strategist, speaker and coach. I’m going to share 3 tips in order to answer the “Tell me about yourself” interview question the right way.
You can stand out in front of hiring managers and ideally, land more job offers. Now before we begin, there are a couple of ground rules you need to know before you can develop the perfect answer to this question.
Rule #1: Do not talk about your personal or family life. When someone asks you, “tell me about yourself,” they’re not actually asking you to tell them about your personal life choices, and the mistakes that you’ve learned from, and how you got here as a human being. They’re not actually asking you to “tell them about yourself,” they’re actually asking you to tell them about your qualifications, your experiences, as well as why you’re a good fit for this role. That’s it. They just want to know about your professional background and experience in a nutshell.
Rule #2: Do tell a story. Even though I said, you shouldn’t be telling them about your LIFE story, you do want to tell them your professional work story. I’ll get into details about this a little later, but essentially, a good professional work story means, that it needs to be engaging, compelling, clear and complete.
Now that we’ve got the ground rules out of the way, let’s move onto our four major tips on how to answer the “tell me about yourself” interview question. Okay, so let’s start off.
Tip #1 is to give a snapshot of your work history. What this means is, you’re going to go back in time to the earliest professional job you’ve ever held and you’re going to start your story from there. Essentially, you’re going to describe what company you worked at, what title you held when you were in that position, how long you stayed in that position for, and, most importantly, what were your major responsibilities in that position.
For example, let’s just say that you started off your career five years ago as a Financial Analyst. Okay, let’s just make this up. Let’s just use another accounting example. You started off your career five years ago as a Financial Analyst and then you moved up to Senior Financial Analyst and now, you’re a Finance Manager. When you tell your story, you’re going to start off with your role as a financial analyst. And you’re going to say something along the lines of, So now you’re going to do that for each and every one of your positions.
You’re essentially telling mini work snapshots for every position that you’ve held up to the current position that you’re holding right now. So after you’ve told the employer about the company you were at, the title that you held, the number of years you were there for and the major responsibilities that you had in that position, you’re then going to describe one major accomplishment that you were able to achieve in that role.
At the same time, I’ll explain it here. An accomplishment is anytime where you have saved time, saved money, improved processes, improved profitability. Anything where you’ve done something that has resulted in a quantifiable, ideally quantifiable result for your company or your department. So, to add on to our example, you would say, So you’ll do both this tip #2 and tip #1 in conjunction with each other, for every single position that you’ve held.
Now onto tip #3. Once you’ve gone through your entire story, and you’ve told the employer about your major roles as well as the accomplishments that you’ve achieved, it’s now time to acknowledge to the employer what you know they need for this particular position that they’re hiring for. To continue on our example, you’ll then say, the reason why this is so important and that so many people don’t do this is because what it does, psychologically, is that it tells the employer that not only are you aware of your abilities and your achievements but that you’re also aware of his or her needs as well and what they’re looking for. And when you can say something as simple as just simply acknowledging “I am aware that for this role you need someone with process improvements skills and abilities” it’s creating a connection with the employer it’s not you any longer talking at them, you’re talking to them.
Finally, onto tip #4. This is the icing on the cake, it’s the cherry on top. And it’s the one thing that many, many people do not bother to say when they’re answering this or many other interview questions. And that is, to tell the employer to literally spoon feed them to maybe even brainwash them to understanding why you are the one and only and perfect fit for this position.
To add onto our example, you would say something like, You need to tell the employer why you’re the right fit for the job. If you don’t end off with this, It’s going to end off on a flat not. It’s not going to be a stellar response. It’s just going to sound like everybody else’s response But in this case, you are being very clear and specific. Even without them having asked you why you’re the right fit you’re literally just feeding it to them and telling them, I’m the right fit for the role. Above all else. So now you know how to answer one of the toughest interview questions, but do you know if your resume stands out enough that you’ll even land the interview in the first place?