Apparently, you can imagine that this question is quite an easy challenge that can be solved with a response of few lines in a matter of minutes. Well, you’re not far-off the truth, except for the fact that it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Obviously, you’re being asked to talk about yourself, but what exactly do you think your interviewer wants to hear about you? Definitely not your autobiography, rather, how the contents of your personality can contribute to the success of the company.
And that’s the point: to adapt your responses, so it correlates with the interest of the company.
In other words, talk about yourself in a way that suits the company’s interest, mention the skills and qualities you possess that the company will find useful.
Sounds somewhat strategic right? Anyway, that’s the essence of this guide; to help you get a clear idea of how to strategically, talk about yourself in a way that suits the company’s interest, making you come off as unique while standing out from the rest of the candidates.
And so without further explanation, I’ll be introducing the necessary tips needed to ace that question.
Tips For Answering The “Tell Me About Yourself” Question
Before you start trying to answer this question, understand: time is of the essence. For that reason, using as much as two minutes to answer the question is a total waste of time.
Avoid the need to start explaining both the relevant and irrelevant part of your story. This will only waste the interviewer’s time.
For your information, there is a queue of other candidates waiting behind closed doors which means the interviewer don’t have all day. Use your apportioned timeframe efficiently.
Recommended timeframe for this question shouldn’t exceed a minute. As a matter of importance, have a series of key points to base your responses on, and a roadmap to guide you so you don’t deviate from the main point.
Be Direct And Simple
In the first place, questions like this are brought forward in order to ascertain who you really are beyond your well packaged resume. To also understand if you’re the right fit for the company.
Now, using a few strategic starting points is necessary. Pick out few interesting points about yourself that relates to the role you’re applying for. Craft a response that is built on those points and deliver.
Don’t prevaricate. Just go straight to the point, making sure you express them in clear terms. With this approach, the interviewer understands you better and appreciates your time-saving response.
Don’t Iterate Your Resume
Often times, the interviewer has already gone through your resume and for that reason, there’s no point iterating what’s on your resume; that’d be a waste of time.
Rather, you’re expected to talk beyond your resume, pointing out qualities about you that your resume can’t contain, even hinting on the benefits of hiring you.
You can try introducing a response with “just as my resume stated, a career in web development has always been my goal and my accomplishments can serve as a demonstration of that. Taking up the role of a developer in this company will blah blah blah…..”
With a response such as this, you can easily craft a precise detail of your resume. Don’t go into much detail, just explain the most relevant details in few words.
Take Advantage Of Stories
In some cases, you might have a particular accomplishment in your resume that actually demonstrates your ability to function as a leader, team player or whatever.
Perhaps in your former job, you’ve once served as a team leader, anchoring a project from the beginning to its completion. Or you’ve probably negotiated on behalf of your former company and it was a success.
Achievements like these shouldn’t be ignored rather, they should be brought up in order to prove how effective you can be when placed in a vital position. Do well to tell the story accurately in a few seconds or minutes.
Remember, the goal is to fashion the story in a way that your abilities will favor the interest of the company if hired. For that reason, be selective with words, choosing only the keywords that, represents your beneficial abilities in the course of the storytelling.
Practice the story before the interview so you don’t drift into the “uhm” lane, boring your interviewer in the process and loosing your chances of scoring high.
Consider The Company’s Culture And The Role
In order to tailor your responses in a way that suits the interests of the company, you need to have a significant amount of knowledge about the company’s culture and the role you’re applying for.
Make a research about the company’s culture, their goals, their values, their achievements, their specifications etc. Also research the duties and responsibilities that comes with the role you’re applying for.
With the possession of such enlightenment, you can always have an idea of what the company really wants from you, giving you the opportunity of crafting the most effective responses during interviews.
You can also take this further by researching your interviewer. Perhaps both of you have a shared interest in baseball. And you can use that advantage to win the interest of the interviewer.
With this kind of strategy, you come off as more than just another candidate, also someone interesting, who can easily adapt to various situations—a trait many recruiters will appreciate.
Approach Yourself From The Outside
As humans, we tend to always see ourselves through the lens of our own opinions, avoiding the impression the world has on us. We like to imagine ourselves better than the reality
But let me ask you: if the interviewer decides to ask your former boss or colleagues about you (which of course is possible), will their responses correspond with the ones you mentioned to the interviewer?
If you have to answer affirmatively, then you’re good to go. But if you answer negatively, then you have to start adjusting your responses.
All you have to do is see yourself from the perspective of an outsider, creating a distance between yourself and your personal opinions. If you do this, then you can be able to see yourself for who you truly are, free from the influence of self-assumed opinions thus, becoming more rational in the process.
Brace Yourself For Follow-up Questions
You are likely to get caught up in a string of questions if your responses are vague. And for all I know, recruiters don’t fancy vague responses, which is why they will always push more questions to you just to have a clearer understanding of your response.
But sometimes, they can still ask questions about certain things even though your response is clear enough. And that is exactly what you have to prepare for. Expect questions from your related fields; the interviewer might take that route. With such preparation, you won’t be easily caught off-guard.
Either way, just make sure you provide explicit responses to the interviewer so as to reduce the chances of follow-up questions(if any).
Practice With A Friend Or A Mirror
Only practice can tell you how well you are prepared for the interview and that’s what your friends will help you with.
Practice with a friend who will play the role of the interviewer. Enlighten him/her about the role you’re applying for so as to enable him get the idea on how to question you. Also advise them to be practical enough in order to gauge your true performance.
If you can’t bring your friend due to some reasons, you can try using a mirror. Sit properly in front of the mirror, making a good eye contact with yourself and answering various questions. Do this until you’re pretty good at it.
Avoid These While Answering The “Tell Me About Yourself” Question
In the course of answering this question, there are possible flaws that need to be avoided. So, be very conscious about the following flaws.
Asking “What Do You Mean?”
For any reason, don’t ask the interviewer “what do you mean?” It makes you come off as a narrow minded person. Worst case scenario: they might assume you’re practically hiding something. Avoid this flaw at all cost.
Responding With Just A Sentence
While it’s important you provide a simple and direct answer, you shouldn’t just dish out a response of one line sentence.
For instance: “I’m good at salesmanship” Such response is not ideal. Okay, you are good at salesmanship. How? What are the qualities you possess that makes you good at salesmanship?
Those are the follow-up responses you should provide when dealing with the “tell me about yourself” question. In essence, learn to backup your responses with practical claims and instances.
Remember: the only way you stand a chance of getting hired is by leaving behind a unique impression on the interviewer. There are too many candidates to compete with and you can’t risk loosing to any of them.
This question is also giving you the opportunity of selling yourself at a high bid. And if you want to place yourself at a significant level, then be ready to position yourself as someone who has a lot to offer to the company.
Practice these tips very well and you’ll have the privilege of standing out from the rest of the candidates while getting hired for the job.