If you have gone through interviews, you would know that this is one of the hardest questions to answer. It is always in the beginning of the interview, serving as an icebreaker of sort. It is a difficult question to respond to because “tell me about yourself” can receive a very long-winded and incoherent answer.
Do you talk about your career path? Do you talk about your hobbies to show the interviewer that you have a life outside work? Or do you say you are married with three children? Do you say you are more of a cat person?
The best way to gauge how to respond correctly is to ask yourself what the interviewer is trying to achieve with this question. The best guess is that they want to see if you are a perfect fit for their organization.
In order to prevent answering this question in an awkward way that will jeopardize your chances of advancing in your interview process, incorporate the following tips into your response.
Talk About Your Career Path/ Work Experience
Take them through your professional journey, highlighting major changing points. Briefly explain the key decisions in your career path and why you took them. Show them that you have the breadth that would be important to them. Touch on the training programs you have taken that will be good for this position.
In the case of fresh graduates, emphasize why you chose the program that you did and what skills you have learned that would become useful in this new position. Talk about your extracurricular activities and show them the type of skills you have nurtured like working with teams, multi-tasking, coordination, etc.
2. Talk About Your Achievements
Your career path or experience is nothing if it is not sprinkled with strong achievements. Jot down all of the achievements in your previous positions. Use numbers, percentages, ratios, etc., to validate your marketability. E.g. I was able to grow revenue by 20 per cent in a year or I was able to provide three quarterly training as Learning and Development Manager. Numbers are sexy so try to convert your achievements into them, if possible. As you talk about your achievements, remember to show how you were able to achieve them. Perhaps you worked with a team or you were good at multitasking.
For fresh graduates, centre your achievements with results from internships and university-related positions. If you were the Student Union President, what were you able to achieve? If you had an internship with a newspaper, what can you say was your achievement?
3. Connect Your Skillset to the Job Description
Don’t just talk about your work experience and previous experience. Connect what you have achieved with the ew position. This requires picking up elements from the job description and connecting the dots. E.g. I have taken a Google Analytics Course and I believe it will help me to navigate through the online marketing aspect of this position. Show them that you all you have done has prepared you to take on this new responsibility. If they are looking for someone with leadership experience, briefly show them how your previous positions have helped you gain necessary skills into this.
For fresh graduates, position yourself as someone ready for this role based on what you have accomplished in your internship, extracurricular activities and studies.
4. Why Are You Here?
Why do you want this position? Remember to use plausible and strong reasons. Talk about how this new position will help you grow because you will be managing a bigger team. Talk about how the challenges of the new position are what you are looking for after working for a certain number of years in the current position. You are advised not to use reasons related to pay, bad working relationship with your boss, bored with the current position, etc.
For fresh graduates, you can highlight how this position will help you grow in the field of your dreams. Talk about your passion and how you are ready to learn, contribute and grow in this position.
5. Make it Concise and Short
This question can make someone ramble with no end. This is not what the interviewer wants. Make sure you keep your answer to less than 2 minutes. However, be cognizant of the body language of the interviewer to know when your answer has to come to a close.
This is not a question that you are going to wing it. Prepare and practice your answer before the interview so you can time your delivery and make sure you are able to squeeze in all the juicy points you want the interviewer to hear. Ask a friend to listen and give you critique if need be.