This is the most asked question at interview and yet it leaves the majority of people I speak to lost for words.
How can that be? The person you know best in the world is yourself. It must be easy to talk for hours on such a subject; mustn’t it?
That is actually part of the problem. When asked such a seemingly simple question, where you have so much to say, it’s easy to get confused as to what to choose.
Which things are going to impress them?
How can you make yourself sound good enough for this job?
What are they really asking you?
What’s the subtext?
I’ve recently written a book and marketing agencies don’t just want the title. They want the subtext too.
With such a general interview question, isn’t that what would help you too? Knowing the subtext
So what does the interviewer mean when they say: ‘tell me about yourself?’
What is it that they really want to know?
Should you tell them about your pet hamster; your love of pickled gherkins; that funny story that had your colleagues in stitches..
Actually, it’s quite easy… What they really want is to know about you in context to what you can do for them.
This is actually a great answer to think about, plan and rehearse ahead of time. Most interviewers ask it, or something similar, so this would be the one question you need to expect.
- Read through the vacancy
- Highlight the key requirements
- Now think about your experience; where does it match?
- Write a short paragraph, talking about yourself – but relate your experience to this requirement
- Once you are happy, read it aloud
- Rehearse until you’re word perfect, you don’t need your piece of paper and you sound both natural and conversational
There is an added benefit to doing this exercise. This is a question an interviewer asks at the beginning. Knowing you have the answer and not feeling flustered and tongue-tied will improve your overall interview performance no end.