While you can’t anticipate every question an interviewer will ask you, it’s a safe bet that “ why don’t you tell me about yourself?” will make it onto the list. Open questions like these can cause candidates to ramble or grow nervous. That’s why preparing your answer ahead of time is a great idea. We asked ten business leaders, “What’s your best tip to answer this common interview question?” Their advice may just help you nail your next interview.
Start with a Skill
Start with an important skill you possess that you know the employer is looking for. In your answer, share how that skill has helped you in your past or current role, quantify the skill and give metrics on your success, then end your answer with how you will use this skill in the position you are being interviewed for.
Peter Babichenko, Sahara Case
Practice Makes Perfect
The “tell me about yourself” question is bound to come up in just about every interview you participate in. Have a scripted answer for this question and practice it until you commit it to memory. Having a practiced answer will eliminate the need to ramble when asked this question. This is your chance to let your personality shine through!
Zack McCarty, Qwick
Break it Up
Break up your answer into three simple parts: Who you are (professionally or academically), what you do in your current role, and why you are here talking to them. The more concise and to the point you are with this answer, the better!
Ryan Nouis, TruPath
Intertwine the Real You and Professional You
Be truthful, but keep it related to the position you’re interviewing for. Are you an organized person? How has being organized helped you in your job (or in school, if you’re a recent grad)? Help them get to know the real you and professional you at the same time. Find qualities about you that are easily seen in your work and clearly contribute to your talent as a candidate.
Thylan Le, Nonprofit SEO Agency
Keeps Things Interesting but Concise
There’s nothing worse than a candidate who gives their whole life story for this question when the interviewer still has several more questions to get through and budgeted a tight thirty or sixty minutes to fit in everything. Describe your work ethic, personality, and drop in a few buzz words that are relevant to your industry. It doesn’t hurt to drop in a few hobbies, just to make you seem more human and soften your demeanor, but keep it brief.
Jessica Schocker, Recruitment Consultant
Start With an Icebreaker
I always start introducing myself in Japanese for one or two sentences and then go “Hmm, wait, this wasn’t the right language”. From there I proceed to tell them how I studied Japanese in high school and have a knack for languages – I speak 5 of them! This gives a narrative feeling to an otherwise boring question and making an impression on interviews is important. It’s not a good sign if you weren’t very memorable.
Snezhina Piskova, Oliver Wicks
This is The Easiest Question
You know that this question, or some version of it, is coming, so you can prepare for it in advance. Set yourself up for success by focusing on what the interviewer really wants to know: why you want the job, what you know about it and how you can add value to it. Forget walking through your resume. It’s in front of her; she can ask you specifics afterward.
Amy Feind Reeves, JobCoachAmy
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Try and understand the perspective of the person asking the question. By doing this, you will be more focused on giving relevant information to answer this question. That being said, the person asking is most likely asking you to relate your professional work history to the job applied for.
Steven Brown, DP Electric Inc
Get a Little Personal
This is a great question to inject a little personality and context into your professional journey. Share a bit about your early life and how your interests and choices led to where you are today. Hiring managers want to know the “why” behind what they see on your resume and this is a great opportunity to share it.
Adam Sanders, Successful Release
Be Yourself. Really.
We want to get to know you for several reasons. Yes, we want to make sure you’ll enjoy working inside our work culture, but we also want to build rapport with you during the interview. If you can’t be yourself when you answer this question, then how will you feel each day when you come into work at our company? Take a deep breath, smile and let us hear what makes you an amazing person!
Nicole Spracale, Coaching & Consulting