Submitted by: Tom Martens, CCC Volunteer Career Coach

Other than “Why did you leave your last position?”, “Tell me about yourself” may be the most dreaded question you might face in an interview.   “How do I answer that?” “What do they want to know?”.  In my experience as a hiring manager, interviewees answer this question with a review of their work history and duties.  Not bad, but I think going in this direction costs you an opportunity to set the tone for the interview.  Think of the question as being “Why should I hire you?”  The normal answer tells the interviewer nothing about you that they can’t learn from a close reading of your resume.  Why not use your answer to set out the reasons you feel that you are the best candidate for the job?  This is an opportunity for you to direct the interview into areas you want to talk about and get the interviewer focused on the strengths you bring to the table.

Anticipate the question and develop your answer, focusing on the 3 or 4 key strengths or competencies you think make you the perfect person for the position.  As you think about those strengths think about how you used them to impact the organization you worked for previously, and then how they can benefit the organization you are interviewing with.  Use the job description to make some educated guesses as to what they need.  You have been called in to interview because they saw something in your resume that makes them think you can do the job.  Now use the opportunity to tell them why you are the best candidate, don’t review things they already know about you.  Tell them why you like what you do, what makes you get up in the morning.  IF you have done a good job of guessing at what skills they value, you will start the interview by reinforcing the decision to bring you in, and also it will encourage the interviewer to ask you more about the strengths you are already prepared to talk about.

Practice your answer so that it becomes natural for you to talk in this way about yourself.  Get your spouse, friends, kids, whoever to sit and listen to you give your answer.  Ask them for feedback on how it sounds; how did you look while delivering the answer, did you seem confident, maintain eye contact, were you persuasive.   You will build your confidence and when an interview opportunity arises, I think you will look forward to “Tell me about yourself” with anticipation.                                     

Previous Page