"Tell Me About Yourself"
If you’ve ever interviewed, you’ve probably gotten America’s LEAST favorite question, “Tell Me About Yourself.” Most applicants HATE it, because they don’t know how to answer and, usually, it comes at the start when logically, the interviewer doesn’t know anything about you. Let everyone else blow this one! If you have a killer answer ready, you can sew up the interview right here.
What The Question Really Means
Let’s start with subtext — the meaning behind the words (like when a girl says, “We have to break up and it isn’t you”, and she really means, “It’s another guy”). The subtext of every interview question is exactly the same, so they ask you the same question in various different ways — it’s ALWAYS, “Why should I hire YOU?”
Once, interviewing an applicant for a receptionist position, I asked, “Why don’t you start by telling me about yourself?” The young applicant actually said, “Well, like my favorite band is U2 and on the weekends I go horseback riding”… it was a short interview (if she had known my question was actually “Why should I hire you?”, think she’d have answered that way?).
How To Answer The Question
Here’s your formula to shine: Before every interview, make a list of the qualities & skills they need for the position, then give specific examples of how you possess those traits. You want to show them that you are exactly what they need.
You can’t use just a list of words because people forgot words — that’s why we all make grocery lists. Actually, words are only 10% of our true communication, while your voice — the way you use your words — represents 20-25%, and the largest chunk, 65-70% is your image and body language. Since people believe what they see, you have to paint them a picture of how your skills meet their needs by reassuring them that you’re a great fit.
Suppose you’re interviewing for an administrative assistant position, with responsibilities including answering phones, taking messages, returning calls, and flexibly executing any/all assignments. Your most effective approach is to tell stories about similar past experiences. “I’m good answering the phone, taking messages and making calls” will be easily forgotten. What detailed, distinctive examples can you offer to show you’ve got the goods?