As a current career advisor and former hiring manager, no question seems to intimidate job seekers more than, “Tell me about yourself.” One would think that this would be an easy question to answer, as you are simply speaking about your personal brand and how you can add value to Company X; however the open-endedness of the question often stumps candidates of all ages. Here are a few things to consider when crafting your answer to this standard interview question:
- …give me your entire life story. Unless your childhood experience is directly related to the position I am hiring for, I do not need to know about it. I once had a candidate start at birth when answering this question in an interview–he did not get the job.
- …provide me answers to any illegal questions that I did/will not be asking you (again, unless it’s directly related the job). I do not need to know about your religion, sexual orientation, political allegiance, etc.
- …read back your resume. I have already reviewed it and most likely have it in front of me. Tell me something I may not know about you. Differentiate yourself from the competition.
- …keep your response roughly one minute in length. I’m simply looking to get a sense of who you are and how you can add value to my organization. I want to learn about your passions, skills, interest, and personality.
- …practice! This question is almost always asked in an interview and I expect candidates to be prepared and confident speaking about themselves. Use this as an opportunity to sell me on your personal brand. Help me connect the dots as to why I should hire you. Share your story.
- …stand out. Take the time to develop a strong personal brand statement. As a Hiring Manager, I would interview multiple candidates for one position–how will I remember you (in a positive way)?
“Tell me about yourself” is often the first question asked in an interview and something you should count on answering. While this list is not all-inclusive, I hope these do’s and don’ts help you as you craft your answer to this age-old interview question.
Heather serves as a Career Advisor for Loyola University Chicago’s Career Development Center. In her role, she assists students and alumni with their overall career development through individual counseling, group workshops, and in the classroom via her Career and Life Planning Lab. Heather’s areas of expertise within the career space include networking, social media engagement, ePortfolios, resumes, and personal branding. Prior to working in Career Services, Heather worked for Sony Music in the areas of Marketing, Sales, and Promotion.She received her BA in Communication & Culture from Indiana University and her MA in Higher Education & Student Affairs from The Ohio State University – GO BUCKS! You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.