Updated: Feb 10
This is the one question that one way or another you will always be asked. It is often the interviewer’s way to get the ball rolling, break the ice, and find out who you are. But...even though your interviewer may have only the very best intentions, this is a TRICK! The interview is NEVER about YOU. It is about them and the organization. The good news is that this is your time to shine by telling your interviewer how you will help make their company or organization better and how you will contribute to their mission. This is actually the only thing they really want to know.
For example, if you are experienced in, or great at, sales, or public speaking, or math, you must find a way to connect these skills, and your personal strengths, to the job you are being interviewed for. During the interview, everything about your answer to the “Tell me about yourself” question, and to every other question, must address this. How do you answer this question well and with confidence? Three ways:
Many candidates are concerned about saying the wrong thing or about not seeming professional. As a result, they come across, nice, safe, but vanilla. This will not get you the job. There will almost always be many nice, well-qualified candidates. To stand out, you need to wow your interviewer and make them feel that they need YOU. The way to do this is to have done your homework and have researched the organization’s mission and goals. That way you will have the knowledge and the confidence to be smart, authentic, and show your genuine enthusiasm about the job.
In order to tell your interviewer about you, or, as discussed, how YOU can help them, do your homework. Find out all you can about the industry or field, the organization, the job, and ideally, the interviewer, before the interview. The way to do this is by reading all you can on the company website, online, and on your interviewer’s LinkedIn. This is great, but in 2019, it is the expected amount of minimum research. Most strong candidates will do this. Do more! Try to find at least one person, ideally more, through your network of friends, family, or trusted colleagues who works in the industry or field, or at the company itself. Graciously reach out and request and arrange a telephone conversation with them. Getting the inside scoop will make you better informed and more confident with your interviewer. If your interviewer knows you have done this, all the better. They will be impressed and assume that you will approach the job with the same work ethic and passion that you are showing in your interview preparation.
Strut your Stuff:
The invitation to talk about yourself is your chance to wow. Take it and run with it! This is the time to tell your interviewer about your accomplishments, why you are excited about the job, and why you are the best candidate for it. If you are fluent in Chinese, a volunteer at a non-profit organization, or the best researcher you know, tell your interviewer, loud and proud. But as you do this, stay focussed on your objective. Be specific and explain how all of your amazing accomplishments, attributes, and experiences make YOU the one able to help the organization achieve their goals.