The most common way for an employer to open an interview is by asking the candidate, what should be, a very easy open-ended question.
Which really isn’t a question at all, more of a comment. So, tell me about yourself. I have been a recruiter for many years and this is by far the most popular question for a candidate to get caught up on!
According to YourCareerCentral, Most of us go into job interviews armed to the teeth with relevant information about our career accomplishments and vast experience. We’re prepared to share impressive data, “wow” the hiring manager with our results-driven approach, and give the big sell about how we can add incalculable value to the company at hand. Why is it, then, that a seemingly innocuous question – So, tell me about yourself – can often be the deal breaker in an interview?
The problem with this statement, is that it’s so open-ended, the candidate doesn’t know which way to steer. This, then, leads to candidates way off topic and it’s tough for them to bounce back!
Forbes.com reiterates the point. “Hiring managers can’t ask you certain questions legally but if you go off on a tangent when answering, you may tell them some things about you that are better left unsaid.”
Less is more when answering this question.
Think of this as your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short summary used quickly and simply to define a product or service and its value. It answers the question, why should I buy or invest. These speeches are far less than a minute long. BigInterview.com reports the best ways to answer the statement:
Tell me about yourself.
Who Are You?
Your first sentence should be an introduction to who you are professionally, an overview statement that shows off your strengths and gives a little sense of your personality too. This is not easy to do gracefully on the fly. It pays to prepare a bit in advance.
Correct: “I’m an innovative HR manager with 8 years of experience managing all aspects of the HR function — from recruiting to training to benefits — for Fortune 500 companies.”
Don’t assume that the interviewer has closely read your resume and knows your qualifications. Use your elevator pitch to briefly highlight 2-4 points that you think make you stand out.
Correct: “I have spent the last six years developing my skills as a customer service manager for Megacompany Inc., where I have won several performance awards and been promoted twice. I love managing teams and solving customer problems.”
Why You’re Here
End by telling them you want the position and why.
Correct: “Although I love my current role, I feel I’m now ready for a more challenging assignment and this position really excites me.”
Remember: You will have time later to walk through your resume in more detail and fill in any gaps. Don’t try to squeeze in too much information or your interviewer WILL start to tune out.
Take a few moments now to sit down and plan how you will respond in your next interview