Have I caught you in your mid-day 'I swear I'm going to quit this job' slump? Good news! Today we're talking about interview fundamentals, specifically the timeless interview question, "So, tell me about yourself." Admit it, even though we always know this question is coming, it's still one of those that frequently leaves us stumbling. So, let's sit down and lay out a plan to keep you from answering with a bunch of resume regurgitation.
So what do you have to say about yourself? If the goal is to avoid stating the obvious and to make yourself a bit more rememberable, let’s try this:
Plan this answer out. You’re not auditioning for Broadway here folks, but have a loose plan of the points you want to hit. You can have the regular education/location/life info, but add in some personal points about what you’re looking for in a job, how your coworkers talk about your work, or something fulfilling you do in your spare time. Now take out your phone and record yourself giving this elevator pitch of yourself. It’s awkward. We’re all awkward. But evaluating and adjusting your weak points ahead of the interview will keep you from the dreaded hot seat, blank stare, “Umm….”
Don’t forget, you’re interviewing on how well you’ll fit into the work culture. This question is a great place to add some personality. You might check every box on paper, but if they can’t see how you’ll fit into the team you might be passed over. People hire people, not just a sentient blob of skills. And you’re not just your degree. So if there’s something you’re really passionate about, try to weave it into your script.
You have to do your research. Alright, Nancy Drew, it’s time to take to the internet and find out a little bit about who is interviewing you. Search for commonalities you might share, and make a plan to sprinkle them through the conversation. You’re going to be a lot more rememberable as, “the person that also has corgis” and not so much as, “the person that had the same degree as all the other candidates.”
Keep it short. ‘Tell me about yourself' doesn’t mean tell me your life story. You should be able to squeeze everything you need to say into 60 to 90 seconds. And if you’re hitting interesting points (like we planned), the interviewer will probably have follow-up questions or you can ask if they want you to talk about anything more in-depth. Look at you, turning the interview into a conversation just like we wanted.
Frame up your background as it relates to the job you’re interviewing for. This one pretty much explains itself, but try to focus on your experience that the hiring manager will find relevant. If you’re interviewing for a front-end lead role, talk about your front-end experience and your lead experience. Crazy, I know.
Talk about why the role stood out to you. Much like the above, you can make things personal while still keeping things relevant. This is an easy point to tie in your education history or work history without sounding too pedantic or repetitive.
Have confidence. There’s no reason to start soft with your answer. You’re sitting with someone who’s probably actively trying not to choose you, so make them think otherwise. To quote the modern intellectual Eminem, “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo.”