m-Pact Career Blog

from Marketing Talent Network

“Tell Me About Yourself” – Getting Ready

Admittedly, we left you hanging a little after our last article.  To remind you, the subject is how to answer the stock interview question “Tell me About Yourself” — and how to answer it in a way that is meaningful.  In that article, we broke that answer down into three basic parts: 

  • Summarize Your Career in One Sentence
  • Give a Brief Example Demonstrating Your Accomplishments
  • Conclude with a one sentence statement about what you want to do next in your career

Remember, though, that the primary idea is to do this in a way that really answers the more important unspoken question“Why should I hire you for this job?”  In order to design an answer that accomplishes this, there are three important steps in preparation.

First, try to determine the most important characteristics for this job.  There are a couple of different sources for this.  One is, of course, the advertisement or posting for the position.  Be cautious about relying on this source however.  Often these are little more than “boiler-plate” ads or short excerpts from the HR department’s job description.  Other sources?  If you have a telephone interview before your face-to-face interview(s), ask that interviewer the question – “What are the two or three most important skills or capabilities for this person to have?”  And if you are working with an executive search firm, they should be able to tell you that same information even before your first telephone interview.

Once you have those specifications, you want to compare those insights to your own skills, experience and background.  And here is where it gets a little tricky.   The talent you want to use is the one where you have the strongest story to tell — the best accomplishments and the most meaningful results.  Remember, your purpose is not to truly tell them all about yourself.  Your purpose is to lay the foundation for a good interview by making the strongest positive impression possible from the very beginning.

Which brings us to number three.  Be brief.  This entire answer — all three parts — should be only four or five sentences long at most.  If they ask you to elaborate, then by all means do so.  But do not take up valuable interviewing time by going on and on.  Trust me . . . they have other questions to ask you.  And the best way to assure brevity and power is to practice, practice, practice.  You want this to roll off the tongue naturally and smoothly, and to respect your interviewer’s time.

Do this, and you will get off to the best of all possible starts with each and every interview. 

 John

June 4, 2008 Posted by | Tips - Interviewing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment