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You — in 90 Seconds

Be prepared to tell your story in a minute and a half

➔ No matter how much you prepare for it, everyone squirms when the interviewer asks, “Tell me about yourself.” Here’s a hint: “I was born on a wind-swept morning out on the plains…” is not a good place to start. First of all, it’s just not relevant and, quite frankly, it goes back a little too far.

Seriously and realistically, the interviewer is interested in brevity. The right answer shouldn’t require more than about 90 seconds – two minutes, top. One recruiter suggests breaking it down into three days: yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Not even a full work week

Yesterday is your background – where you’ve been and, more important, what you’ve done – and should not last more than about 30 seconds. Today, simply enough, is what are you doing now – which should only take about 10 seconds. If you’re keeping time, you’ve spent only 40 of your 90 seconds, leaving 50 seconds to elaborate on what can bring to the table for this employer; your value proposition; what they, the employer, are looking for.

Even if they haven’t, you have to assume that they’ve read your resume. Therefore, lengthy explanations of your past life may be redundant. And, if they haven’t read your resume, not to worry. As you recap your background, if they want more information, they’ll ask.

Also, if you were let go, don’t try to hide it. Be very matter of fact about it. In today’s job market, it’s no embarrassment to be let go. Many workers have been let go despite doing good work, getting good reviews and being a valuable team member. Circumstances dictate differently.

In the end, when they say that they want to know more about you, what they’re really saying is that they want to know how you’re going to help them; how you’re going to contribute; how are you going to make them look good.



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