Tell me about yourself. The standard way to start an interview.
People often struggled with this question, typically they will do something they probably know isn’t right, like ask for clarification. “Do you mean since starting school, just my career, what do you want to know, exactly?”
You are there to communicate something very specific, how your experiences and qualifications demonstrate, you are a great candidate for the job.
This is a fantastic opportunity for you to drive the interview in the direction you want. You have an opportunity to discuss anything you like. The interviewer has not asked you to talk about your last role specifically, or to get an understanding of your technical qualifications, just talk about yourself in any way you feel fit.
The question: “Tell me about yourself?” could be stated as, “Tell me two or three things you have done in your working career, that best fit the key requirements of this role, as stated in the job description?”
So now we know this little gem of information, we can consider planning out our answer.
Let’s look at some examples. If the role is in sales: “One key thing I have learnt, is the benefits of constant communication with clients. During my time with XYZ company I emailed my clients once a month with a news story related to our industry. On many occasions, client would call after the article had been sent out with a new order, or they wanted to meet to discuss an opportunity. The constant communication kept me (my company) at the front of their mind.”
You could then go on to say: “I also increased the new clients to the company by 120 in the first 18 months in the role. I understand this skill set is what you are looking for and I would love to be able to replicate what I have done before, for you.”
If you have some good data, use it! “During my last role, I converted 86% of the leads into clients, I generated £340,000 of revenue in my first 12 months, this was 134% of my target. I did this by being tenacious and with an excellent work ethic. I think, two traits which will be really important in this role.”
You need to be up to speed with the job description. This is the document the person you are being interviewed may well have written, if not they will be very familiar with it and on many occasions, they will use this as a basis for the interview.
Make sure you can easily communicate the two or three key skills required to do the job.
Give examples of how you have used these skills in the past. Use facts or stats if you can.
- Choose a key skill from the job description
- Explain, with an example, when you have successfully used this skill.
- Explain what the outcome was (benefits)
- Confirm this skill is needed in this new role.
Please don’t mention how many siblings you have or that you really like dogs, or that 17 years ago you played football for West Ham reserves. Use the opportunity you have, to talk confidently about your best career achievements, thus paving the way for a successful interview and positive outcome.