How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” questions in an interview

“Tell Me (or Us) About Yourself” is often among the first questions asked at the start of the interview, the goal of the interview is not to become best friends. The real goal is to determine if you are a good fit for their job.

This question may come disguised as, “What should I know about you?” or they might say, “What would you like me to know about you.” Like the “Why should we hire you?” question, this is an opportunity to market yourself, presenting yourself as the solution (right candidate) for their problem (a job to fill).

The best way to answer this question?

Focus on the opportunity! Tell them about your accomplishments and experience that make you an ideal candidate for the job you are seeking.

Since this is usually among the first questions asked, they typically are interested in a quick summary of who you are and what you have accomplished, related to this job opening. They want to understand how well you fit into this position.

So, tell them how well you fit, using the 2-part answer, below. But, don’t spend coupe of minutes answering this question.

What You Don’t Tell Them

If you simply tell someone about yourself without planning, you could give away all kinds of information that leaves them with the impression that you are:

Over-qualified, Under-qualified, Ditzy or naive, Unprepared for the interview (so not really very interested), Simply a risk for the company.

Most people talk about what they know, ramble on about where they live, kids, likes/dislikes, but, remember, THIS IS A JOB INTERVIEW.

The sole purpose of this interview is to see if you are a fit for this employer and a fit for this job! Therefore, your goal is to avoid answers that give away personal information about yourself. An employer isn’t going to select to hire you because you have such cute children, a wonderful husband or wife, or interesting hobbies.

How to Prepare for This Job Interview question
Before you ever go to an interview, you need to KNOW YOURSELF in terms of qualifications for the job and match for the company.

You should do:

Carefully review the job description to note where you meet or exceed the requirements, and Research the company, and Identify, catalog, list, and review your expertise, strengths, and unique value, and Practice, practice, practice so you sound natural and confident.
Then, you will be ready to put yourself in the employer’s shoes, and emphasize what will make you stand out for the company and for the job.

The Two-Part Answer to Tell Me/Us About Yourself
This is not an invitation to tell your life story or share any secrets about your current or former employers. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes. Emphasize what will make you stand out as qualified for the company and for the job.

Break your answer to this question into two parts:

1. How/why you are qualified.
Summarize what you have done that qualifies you for this opportunity. Don’t recite what is on your resume or job application, but don’t assume that the interviewers, who may have been interviewing several candidates, remember your qualifications.

Prsent the most significant highlights, the ones that would be most relevant to this job. These are the qualifications that make it clear that you are a very good candidate for the job.

2. Why you have applied.
Focus on advancing your career. Stay away from reasons that are not clearly career-related. Emphasize the opportunity to move forward in your career without saying that you are dead-ended in your current job.

Avoid the purely personal reasons. Do NOT say:

You want to work closer to home because your kids sometimes get out of school early and you want to be able to be there with them, or You are too tired from the long commute to enjoy life, or Your boss is a jerk and you want a better job. This is where you must tread very carefully and not say anything that might be interpreted as trashing your current/former employer.

Do not forget to be prepared for interviews or other recruitment steps. Make research for the position, company and even recruiters. Also, prepare yourself by writing down your answers and speaking out your answers.

Or let do it all research for you and make interviews on the phone or skype for further practice.

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