In my estimation, about 80% all interviews start with, “Tell me about yourself,” or a similar directive.
It’s a simple question, right. It should be a no brainer. After all, nobody knows you like you, right?
That should be the case. Often times however, I hear people taking this question in the wrong direction. They interpret the question as idle chit chat. They interpret it as a way for the interviewer to “break the ice.” While that could be the case, don’t miss the chance to start selling yourself – right away.
Use this simple recipe for responding to “Tell me about yourself.”
- 1 part Past
- 1 part Present
- 1 part Future
- 1 part Personal
- 3 parts Professional
In other words, spend equal time talking about the past, present and the future. In addition, spend most of your time talking about who you are professionally. Sure, it’s great that you live in a cozy neighborhood in the suburbs with a little puppy-wuppy but you’re in the interview to show that you can sell – to show that you’re a professional salesperson. So sell.
Finally, any personal information you inject should hint towards personal characteristics. Things like competitiveness, volunteer spirit, work ethic, commitment to a larger cause, dedication, and teamwork can all be conveyed by sharing “not necessarily professional” information. Don’t leave the connection up to the interviewer though. Actively make that connection yourself. For instance, you could say something like, “When I’m not working, I enjoy cycling with the local club. The group I ride with happily taps my competitive spirit which motivates me to ride harder, faster, and longer. It’s great fun.”
In the end, using professional experiences to convey your characteristics will open more doors for further discussion and conversation. Carefully planning a response to this question and being able to deliver it without it surrounding rehearsed will surely get your interview off to the right start.
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