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What Can You Tell Me About Yourself?

Reciting your resume isn’t good enough

➔ Perhaps the most ubiquitous question in a job interview is, “Tell me about yourself.” Many interviewers use it simply as a conversation starter. (OK. Some use it because they don’t know what else to say, but they are not the majority.)

How best to answer the question?

Reciting your resume is not necessarily a good strategy. Good interviewers who are on their games will have already looked at your resume so you have no reason to tell them what they already know. If nothing else, it makes you look unprepared and unimaginative – two traits that you don’t want to exhibit in an interview – especially at the start of the interview.

The best answer is one that addresses a company need or issue. If you’ve done your pre-interview homework, you may have a pretty good idea of what that need or issue is. It’s best if your comment is directed specifically at that issue. Second best – if you don’t have something that specifically addresses that issue – focus on what would be your “go-to” accomplishment. Selecting one that illustrates your biggest strength will put you in a positive light.

Whatever you choose, make it memorable. You want that interviewer to be able to look back and pick you from the crowd and say something like, “Oh yeah. I remember. The one who opened up a new sales market.” You have to give them a reason to remember you.

As part of your pre-interview prep, be sure to practice whatever anecdote that you’re planning to use. You’ll remember it better if you write it out first. You might also want to “test” yourself. Practice reciting your story using your cellphone’s video feature. This will enable you to go back and review your “performance” and improve it until it’s perfect.

And don’t worry about sounding “rehearsed.” It’s no embarrassment to sound rehearsed. In fact, it shows that you cared enough about this interview to practice and prepare.

And that says a lot about yourself.


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