“Tell me about yourself” is a question, usually posed at some point in an interview , which can send cold shivers up and down your spine, if you’re not prepared to give the right answer. In a nutshell, the right answer should be succinct, differentiate you from the swarm of other candidates, and highlight your value to the company for whom you are interviewing.
Purpose of the Question:
There is a purpose to asking each and every question in the interview. Although the set of interview questions varies from industry to industry and position to position, interviewers use the interview process as a vehicle to eliminate your candidacy. Every question they ask is used to differentiate your skills, experience, and personality with that of other candidates. They want to determine if what you have to offer will mesh with the organization’s mission and goals.
Your Elevator Pitch
Before arriving at any interview, you should have prepared and internalized what many of us call “an elevator pitch”. This is a description of yourself, your unique competitive advantage and your value to a company which is short enough to be delivered to someone whom you or one of your advocates…..your spouse or colleague, perhaps.. run into and have the opportunity to pitch on the elevator, somewhere between the 10th and the 3rd floor. Three to five sentences would make a good elevator pitch, so they’d better be good ones, whetting the appetite for more.
Defining Your Competitive Advantage or Unique Selling Point
Long, long before this, you should have spent some serious time figuring out what is unique about yourself…. your unique selling point… what makes you different from others… and you’d better have one. Not only that, you’d better be able to quantify it. ( If you’re a little foggy on this, or are afraid you’ll melt into the crowd, instead of standing out, it might be a good investment for you to develop a career portfolio that demonstrates the positive results of your career in a graphic manner which you can then share with others like the person who is interviewing you.)
Avoid This Type of Answer
Try to avoid a too general answer and one that focuses on what you are looking for. For example: “I am a hard-worker who is good with numbers. After I worked as a financial analyst for a few years, I decided to go to law school. I just finished and now am looking for a new challenge.” Trust me, they don’t care what kind of challenge you’re looking for: they want to know “what’s in it for them”, so……
Instead, be specific and quantify, something like this:” I began developing skills relevant to financial planning when I worked as a financial analyst for three years. In that role, I succeeded in multiplying the wealth of my clients by carefully analyzing the market for trends. The return on the portfolios I managed was generally 2% more than most of the portfolios managed by my company. After two promotions, as the manager of a team, I successfully led them to develop a more efficient and profitable strategy for dealing with new accounts”.( Give the numbers; better yet, show them in a graph.) “My subsequent training in the law, including tax law and estate law, gives me an informed view of what types of investments and charitable gifts would be most advantageous for your clients.” ( If you have a a career portfolio that demonstrates graphically the success you’ve had, now is the time to whip out your Blackberry or iPhone and share it with them.)
Preparing for the Answer:
Follow the steps outlined below to ensure your response will grab the interviewer’s attention.
1. Provide a brief introduction. Introduce attributes that are key to the open position.
2. Provide a career summary of your most recent work history. Your career summary is the “meat” of your response, so it must support your job objective and it must be compelling. Keep your response limited to your current experience. Don’t go back more than 10 years.
3. Tie your response to the needs of the hiring organization. Don’t assume that the interviewer will be able to connect all the dots. It is your job as the interviewee to make sure the interviewer understands how your experiences are transferable to the position they are seeking to fill.
4. Ask an insightful question. By asking a question you gain control of the interview. Don’t ask a question for the sake of asking. Be sure that the question will engage the interviewer in a conversation. Doing so will alleviate the stress you may feel to perform.
There you have it – a response that meets the needs of the interviewer AND supports your agenda.
When broken down into manageable pieces, the question, “So, tell me about yourself?” isn’t overwhelming. In fact, answering the question effectively gives you the opportunity to talk about your strengths, achievements, and qualifications for the position. So take this golden opportunity and run with it!
( If you think you may need some help clarifying and preparing any of your answers, go to Advancing Women Portfolios, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free: (888) 565-4627. We would love to hear from you and we will be happy to help.)
To read the whole post, go to Can You Tell Me Something About Yourself! – Careers-Employment- AdvancingWomen.com
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