The question “tell me about yourself” can unexpectedly paralyze even the most prepared job candidate. So, why does such an innocent question create anxiety and fear?
So Many Options
- How much detail should I include?
- How much do you want to know about my career experience?
- How do I talk about myself without bragging?
- What if my experience isn’t “good enough?”
Cut to The Chase
Typically, this question serves to bring the recruiter up to speed. Recruiting is typically very busy, and your recruiter may only have a couple of minutes to scan your resume pre-interview. It is also easy for a job recruiter to mix up candidates if they are doing back-to-back interviews.
Stay calm! This is your chance to share your personal narrative and succinctly explain how you got to this point and why you’re talking with the interviewer about the job now.
Create a Theme
As you detail the highlights or your career, determine if there’s a theme that runs throughout your work history. Are you a problem-solver? Perhaps you create a sense of community, or you have distinct qualities that allow you to lead? If there’s been a career change, share the “bridge” of what led you from where you were to where you are now. These elements help a recruiter make helpful connections between what you’ve done in the past and what you hope to do in the future.
A theme can also be helpful in explaining why you choose to take a certain job, what excites you about the position you’re interviewing for and how you can use your skills to make the most of the role today and in the future.
Break it Down
Intro – summarize your career in 2-3 sentences.
Hit the highlights – share the experiences that directly connect to the role and how these will help you succeed in the role you’re interviewing for.
Conclude – let the recruiter know why the role, the organization and the culture are attractive to you.
The Wrap Up
Remember, interviews should be a two-way conversation. This is the time to share information that’s useful and to ask your own informed questions about the role.
With practice and preparation, you’ll feel more comfortable about answering the “tell me about yourself” question, and you’ll also have a greater appreciation of the unique talents you bring to an organization.