Simple answers to frequently asked interview questions that will land you a job 2x faster
Hello and welcome to our ReadyforWork career advice series on answering the frequently asked interview questions more effectively. In this series, we shall shed light on how you can improve your chances of getting hired with practical interview answers.
And our focus for this installment is how to answer the question “Tell Me About Yourself.”
When an employer asks you this question, they don’t necessarily want to know your name, age, or where you came from — as much as that information is crucial.
And your answer can help you make a great first impression, or it can flatten your hopes of getting a job offer.
Here’s how to rock that question:
Talk About Your Present: Showcase Your Strengths
Here’s not the time to share details about your personal life. Saying, “I’m single but hoping to get married soon,” does nothing to convey your value to the hiring manager.
Instead of going into your life story, talk about the qualities and skills you have relevant to the job and the position you’re interviewing to secure.
Make sure you’re also reading the room as you’re talking. If the other person looks bored or distracted, it might be time to wrap it up. And if they “light up” on one part of your answer, it might be worth expanding on that topic.
Don’t Just Repeat What’s on Your Resume
Don’t blow this opportunity regurgitating your resume content. They already have that document. So your goal is to give them fresh insights into what you bring to the table.
Most people respond as if they’re presenting a dissertation on their application, but this will just bore the interviewer to tears.
Again, remember that you do not have to tell your complete life story. Consider it a teaser that will stimulate the interviewer’s attention and allow them to ask follow-up questions on what piqued their interest the most.
Your First Impression Matters
You only have one chance to make a first impression. Most hiring managers make their decisions in the first few minutes of the conversation. That means your greeting, handshake, body language, and the first thing you say matter. Instead of spending the rest of the interview time making up for a bad opening, set the stage with a concise, confident, relevant, and well-practiced answer from the start.
Choose Your Keywords Carefully
You don’t want to wait until you get this question in a live interview to try out your answer for the first time. Do your due diligence: Think through what you want to convey about yourself ahead of each interview and practice saying it aloud. The stories we tell about ourselves are often the lives we’re living. Be circumspect about the words you use. Sift through the job posting for keywords the employer is looking for — most job descriptions include a list of the qualities or skills that a company wants from a potential employee. While you amplify your technical skills, don’t forget to convey your soft skills. Yet, no one wants to hear that you’re a “team player.” Instead, show how you’re a team player.
Talk About Your Past: Be Your Cheerleader
Don’t be afraid to brag a little. You don’t want to come off as arrogant and narcissistic. Yet, keep in mind that the goal of a job interview is to impress the interviewer. Learning how to effectively self-promote is critical. Use whatever technique that works for you. You can practice your interviewing skills with a friend, practice good posture, or use positive affirmations.
Consider Crafting an Elevator Pitch
Some people can talk on the spur of the moment. But if you’re not one of those, you’ll want to prepare a script to answer this interview question. We’re talking about a 30–60-second elevator pitch that includes an anecdote to back up your claims.
Here are a few examples of compelling elevator pitches:
- If you’re applying for an administrative assistant position: I’m the kind of person that team members depend on for structure and accurate record keeping. That served me well at my previous job, where my attention to detail saved my employer over 5000 Cedis in overhead expenses. I’m also good at developing systems to keep teams organized, productive, and harmonious. I introduced Slack to my manager at a previous job, which helped our department improve internal communication.”
- If you’re applying for a management position: “I took over a department with a high turnover rate at my previous job and increased retention by over 60% in less than 12 months. My work was crucial in helping the company reach a revenue goal of $10M, a first in the company’s history. I have extensive experience managing high-performance cross-cultural teams and achieving business objectives on a limited budget. And I bring those skills to this role to help your company make 10x progress.”
That’s it for this episode of our career advice. If you found this article useful, please share it for others to find it.
Cheers to your future success!