Not long ago we discussed how to handle one of the toughest interview questions commonly asked at job interviews – “Tell Me About Yourself.” Technically it’s not even a question, yet it is so prone to error that millions of applicants lose out on great opportunities because they were not sure how to answer the question effectively.
Common mistakes include:
- Discussing your personal life.
- Mentioning jobs/experiences that are unimportant.
- Trying to wing your answer.
- Not emphasizing your workplace strengths, goals, ambitions.
“After I graduated from high school I started working at an ice cream factory. There I met my wife, and once she got pregnant with our first child, I realized it was time to make a change. So I went back to school and got my BA degree in Urban Planning. After working at a few odd jobs here and there I started embarking on my career in urban planning and development. Then I found your job and decided you were a perfect fit for my goals.”
This answer gives away too much personal information, in addition to discussing things that don’t matter to the interviewer. It also completely ignores anything that will speak highly to your abilities.
“I recently graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in American literature. While I was completing my degree, I spent time with Drs. John Smith and Jane Everywoman, researching linguistic methodologies for influencing the political landscape. My goal was to work with a pro-environmental grassroots campaign where I could use my skills, experience, and passion to change the world. When I found that your company was looking for an assistant manager in communications, I knew that it would be the perfect fit for my abilities and beliefs.”
It is not necessarily about having the experiences you need to succeed in the position. It is the ability to craft an answer that shows you would make a great employee, and focus your answer in such a way that personal information, useless facts, etc., are not mentioned. The best thing you can do is plan your answer ahead of time so that you know exactly what to say when you are asked that common interview question.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Keep your answer strictly professional.
- Plan it all out ahead of time.
- Make sure that you only discuss interesting, job related information.