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How To Answer: “So...Tell Me About Yourself?"

Category: Career Experts, Interview Tips, Career Advice

How To Answer: “So...Tell Me About Yourself?"

This opening interview question can feel like they’re really saying: “open up and reveal to me the depths of your soul.” But rest assured, they're not.

Note: we do not want to treat this questions as an invitation to a vague and complacent answer, or the worst response of all: “what do you want to know?”...eek! #awkwardmoments

So... Let’s put our nerves aside here, and realise that in actual fact this ice-breaking opener provides a perfect platform for you to position yourself AND find out what your hiring manager is looking for, all in about a New York minute.

A Loose Formula

Construct your response in three concise parts:

The first element speaks of your compassionate / passionate self.
The second component speaks of your professional self.
The final part of your answer should speak about the company.
Keep in mind, the idea here is to set the tone for the rest of the interview by giving a stellar introduction about yourself that talks about things not necessarily seen on your resume. They know what's on your resume, so they'll know there's more to come. Keep it interesting, and vibrant. If you've hit the 2 minute mark, you're saying way too much.

This is one of those questions where it pays to write it down before the interview so you can plan what you want to reveal about yourself in the opening instance.

This is not one of my coaching sessions so I won't go any into any further detail, let's just go straight to the juicy examples:

So... Tell Me About Yourself?

A Detailed Example

“Firstly, there a couple of different things you should know about me. I have to tell you, I just love children, and volunteer my weekends at the children's ward at Calvary hospital.

With regards to my professional work though, I’ve consistently maintained a vigorous and personable attitude, and I think my background in communications and experience in consulting shows that I like to get things done. Recently, I contributed to the Watch This Space project at my previous work, which elevated me from a just a senior consultant, to a senior consultant with in-depth first hand understanding of the problems immigrants here are faced with.

There are three things that I'd like to point out about my career. Firstly, I have varied qualfications, my Ph.D in journalism enables me to bring a great degree of journalism and written skill to each of my positions. Secondly, I live and breath my career, which you can see through my publications. And thirdly, I’m really passionate about closing the gap between new immigrants and permanent citizens so your contribution to that really resonates with me. I’m honoured to have been called to come here today. I'm so happy about the possibility of working here and being part your mission. Having said that, let me know what you would like to get out of this interview today".

A Graduate's Example:

Note: a graduate's response draws more from willingness and potential (how aligned their career goals are with the goals of the organisation), education and charm.

“There a couple of different things you should know about me. I have to tell you, I’m an avid fitness fanatic and have been a finalist in past body building competitions. Don’t worry, I’m not competing anymore - I won’t be missing any work (smile).

With regards to my work life though, I’ve consistently maintained an ethical and personable attitude, even though I have not yet started my career, I've shown this in all my part time contracts, throughout university life and in my internships. Recently, I contributed to the Watch This Space project as part of my internship, which took me from just a learning uni student, to a student that could apply theory to a fantastic project and it really elevated my first hand understanding of the problems immigrants here are faced with and I'm keen to learn more about it.

I’m really passionate about closing the gap between immigrants and permanent citizens so your contribution to that really resonates with me. My career goals align with your company's mission so I’m honoured to have been called to come here today. I'm so happy about the possibility of working here and being part your mission. Having said that, let me know what you would like to get out of this interview today."

And end there with a smile :)

#begenuine #beyourself #butbeprepared

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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