Once you walk into the interview room, shake hands and get introduced to the recruiter and hiring manager (and maybe a few more VIP’s) the most common first question you will be asked is “Tell me about yourself.” If we can all agree that this is the most common first question that will be asked of you in a job interview then why do so many people have a difficult time answering it? This opening question is the perfect time for you to make yourself look amazing.
As a recruiter I know this questions sucks because not everyone likes talking about themselves. I personally used to hate this question as the interviewee. How long should my answer be? What should I say? Do they want to know that live alone and have a dog? This question is really meant to get your nerves out of the way. To get you to relax and get ready for the interview questions that count. Secretly I want you to answer this questions without boring me to death. Make it short, sweet and to the point.
Don’t get too Personal
The recruiter and the hiring manager are NOT YOUR FRIENDS. They may become your best friends if and when you get the job but for now they don’t want to hear about your boyfriend problems, the crazy trip you took to Las Vegas or that one of your hobbies is to post YouTube video’s of your cat. The easiest thing to remember is to just not talk about your personal life i.e. family, spouse, pets etc.
Now that you know not to talk about your personal life make sure that you don’t bore the recruiter and hiring manager with your perfectly recited life history a.k.a. reading off your resume. We also don’t want to listen to you talk about how you’re the perfect employee. It is never a good idea to have the recruiter yawning in the beginning of your interview. If you want to leave a negative impression go ahead and continue talking about how you’re such a hard worker, how loyal you are to each company that you’ve worked for, that you’re dedicated 110% to all of your projects and that you also love working weekends. Well, I don’t hear the weekend statement too often but I think you get my point.
What Recruiters want to Hear
We want a quick rundown of your experience not in 10 minutes but in just a few sentences. We want to hear what you’ve done in your career, and what you plan on doing. Talk about your most recent career experience, things you have accomplished and most importantly be specific and include details. Make sure you also talk about specific skills that you have that are directly related to the job you are applying for.
Do not think that you can just “ad-lib” your response. If you do you have a higher chance of rambling off and talking about all sorts of personal stuff you didn’t mean to share. To avoid rambling you need to prepare ahead of time what you’re going to say. Take a few minutes a few nights before the interview to develop a statement or a few sentences that clearly summarizes who you are, why you’re wicked and why the company should employ you.
“As you can tell from my resume, I have been deeply involved with Administrative work since the past 10 years. I have always been interested and enjoy working in health care, but thanks to some great opportunities I have had a chance to work in many different fields such as Law and even online as a virtual assistant.
My most recent experience has been working online as a virtual assistant for Jane Doe, an author. I played a critical part in evaluating data, literature review and researching various topics for Mrs. Doe.
My chief strengths are my ability to develop great rapport with clients and my attention to detail.
I am specifically looking for a role that will challenge me but also utilize my current skills. This is why I applied for your role at XYZ company and hope that there is an opportunity for me here. “
At the End of the Day
It’s strange that more candidates don’t spend the time to prepare for exactly how to answer this question. This is a great opportunity for you to stand out from your competition and prepare a few sentences. This question may seem informal and just a nice way to break the ice and start the interview but DO NOT let your guard down. Answering this question with a confident yet quick summary of why you are wicked will definitely be a fantastic start to what we all hope is a great interview.
Photo By: Alan O’Rourke