Five Tips to Answer the No. 1 Interview Question Expertly
Yes, we agree. Job interviews can tend to be nerve-wracking, as most of us aren’t accustomed to talking eloquently about our skills, strengths and weaknesses. Especially while sitting across from a stranger. And even if your communications skills are stellar, the first question can unnerve just about everyone.
Every interview almost always starts with the interviewer saying, “Tell us about yourself”. While this is something that should be practiced and prepared in advance, candidates often overlook the importance of this question and fail to take the time to formulate the right response.
Remember that the question isn’t an invitation to tell your life story. The interviewer just wants to know why you’re interested in this position and what makes you qualified. All that they wish to determine is whether your skill-set and personality are a match for the company culture? This is the right opportunity to show off your passion for your work and demonstrate how you are the perfect fit for the company with your answer.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the following five tips can help you articulate your response to “tell us about yourself” in the most effective manner.
Tip 1: Honesty really is the best policy.
The best way to answer interview questions about yourself is to be honest. You are who you are and nothing can change that. Trying to present yourself as someone you’re not may not be the best idea in the long run. And anyway, employers can often tell when a candidate’s answers are sincere, so just be genuine with your reply.
Tip 2: Ensure that the skills match.
Prepare your response, keeping the company and the specific job in mind. You don’t want to end up saying something that is not a requirement for the job. Therefore, be sure to review both the job listing and your resume before the interview. Think of skills, experiences, and qualities you have that make you a good fit for the position.
Tip 3: Research well.
Research is key to answering the opening question well. Before every interview, research the company and the job description so that you can speak intelligently about why it appeals to you. All that the hiring manager wants to see is that you are genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity and that you took the initiative to learn about the company and the role.
Tip 4: Consider the personality fit.
All said and done, you need to do a bit of background check to see if the job is a good personality fit. You need to consider whether the job would work out long-term if it’s not a match for your personality and work style. Go through the company’s website in detail to see if that’s what you’re seeking in your next position and your next employer.
Tip 5: Finish with a Power Statement.
The most obvious strategy is also one of the least-utilized: ending with a powerful finish to the most common interview question. The interviewer hears the same answer over and over again each day. So nothing will make them sit up faster and listen to you than a surprising answer. And that means you’ve got a significant advantage over all the other candidates who could give perfectly satisfactory, but often perfectly boring answers.
How about something like this: [Samples of a few power statement finishes.]
“I have always admired your company’s products and I was really impressed with the recent CBC interview with your CEO. The job description also emphasizes communication skills and leadership — two of my greatest strengths. I really feel that it’s a role and organization in which I could excel.”
“One of the reasons why I chose to apply. I have always wanted to work for a successful company with strong leadership and vision, and this is one that recognizes and rewards performers.”
“I take the time to continue learning even if it’s not a direct requirement of the job. I find that many times, my professional growth is based on what I study, both directly and indirectly related to work.”
“I consistently sets firm goals for myself. I am determined to do well in my job and have a successful career, as well as to make the company I work for, more competitive.”
“I have spent the last six years developing my skills as a customer service manager for ABC Corp, where I have won several performance awards and been promoted twice. This role will not only challenge me but also help me manage teams and solve customer problems with my relevant combination of skills.”
To sum up, “Tell us about yourself” will come up in just about every job interview.
Don’t waste the opportunity by simply diving into a long recitation of your resume.
Instead, try a concise, enthusiastic response that summarizes your big-picture fit for the job.
As you can see, while it may seem that your answer should be all about you and what you’re looking for, a great answer goes a step beyond that and establishes your ability to empower the organization in the position. Go ahead, tell them about yourself – with a flourish.