Tell Me About Yourself (But Really… Don’t)
Well hello there! In this blog post you’ll learn 2 ways to answer this question and 2 ways NOT to answer this question: (Tell me about yourself).
Tell me about yourself… What a question! Sooo open ended and ambiguous, it could mean EVERYTHING or it could mean NOTHING!
Let’s narrow it down to 2 solid ways you can handle this question:
Strategy 1: Strategically Direct the Question
You can start answering this question and then- interrupt yourself and say: “Can I ask you a question about this role?”
– This is where you are very subtly, shifting the interview into a discussion!
They won’t say NO you can’t ask a question about the job!
They’ll won’t even know what you just did.
Then you can start asking about their business problems and really getting into a meaty discussion about what YOU can help with, which is the whole reason that you’re there.
I’ll give my own example of how I would do this:
Interviewer or Hiring Manager says: ‘Tell me about yourself’
I would say: ‘Well I Started in project management and started to really love the projects that involved build-outs or large scale coordination, Oh! By the way can I ask you a question about the job? I’m getting from your description you’re expanding into a new space and you’re needing someone to work on coordinating the build-out and design, this sounds very exciting! If I’m on the right track, what’s your main priority with this project?’
(This is just an example) but can you see what I just did?
Mind blown right?
Only do this is it feels right for you – it’s not for everyone, an interview should get off on the right foot and since this normally the first question they ask, only do it if it feels good.
You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to shift the interview into a discussion throughout.
DON’T LOVE READING? Watch video here:
If you do love reading, let’s get back to it…
Strategy 2: You Just Gotta SAY it.?
Have you ever left an interview and been like.
Darn it, I forgot to mention the time when I single handedly orchestrated a safety evacuation for the whole building!
OR I forgot to tell them that I’m bilingual and the role said that they wanted a Spanish speaking person?!
OR you just forgot to tell them something that was really important for them to know for when they made their hiring decision?
I want you to think about this: If there were 2 or 3 things that you really want the hiring manager to know about you, what would these 2-3 things be?
If you could share ANYTHING (any stories, impressive things you’ve done or accomplished) what would you share and why?
Then weave it into the answer to ‘Tell me about yourself’. I mean if this is really about YOU then you should share something interesting, memorable and relevant!
One more thing! – Before we move to the what not to do’s!
The hidden meaning behind this question – put most bluntly is: Who are you, why should I care?
What can you do FOR ME? – with this in mind give them something good!
OR get them talking about their problems! (We all know that people Loooove talking about themselves!)
Alright! 2 Ways NOT To answer this question:
Way #1: Answer the question with another question! (Super annoying).
So what some people do is they throw the question back and answer with a question: I’ve had people do this!
I say: Tell me about yourself?
And they say: “Well what do you want to know?”
While maybe it’s a vague question and I get that you’re basically asking them to be more specific, it’s just not the time to do that.
WAY #2: Kitchen sink syndrome
Another way not to answer is to start talking about EVERYTHING! including things that really have no bearing on the role they need filled.
For example: ‘I grew up in Minneapolis and I like Minnesota sports team. I have a brother and a sister and my mom lives in Canada etc. oh and I also like cheeses that are really smelly…’
Focus on the reason you’re there – to figure out if you’re a good fit and move in that direction. Heading towards topics around the role, the company, the industry and the culture of the company.
Ask questions whenever possible (don’t wait until the end to ask questions, As I mentioned, you can start first thing).
And there you have it! 2 great examples and two terrible examples!
If you’re interested in diving deeper with me on interview prep! You can CLICK HERE to download the free interview Q and A Examples guide!
Scripts and guidelines to adapt to your own flair, real examples of great answers real clients of mine give that bring them up from an average candidate to a “Wow!” Where did this person come from”. Grab it now for FREE!
In this guide you’ll learn:
How to identify the questions they’re really asking you (things are not always as they appear).
How to tell captivating stories that trigger the interviewer to remember you above all other candidates.
How to proactively identify an interviewer’s concerns, even when they don’t voice them out a loud.
How to steer the interview in the direction you want it to go.
What I say at the end of the interview to wrap it up and seal the deal.
And remember the process that we use isn’t perfect, but YOU can outsmart it! You got this! I’ll see you next time, I can’t wait!
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