how-to-ace-job-interview

From Panic to Poise: How to Ace the Most Important Interview Question of Them All

Strategies for answering the job interview question, “Tell me about yourself.”

It’s the question you dread the most. But you know it’s coming. In every job interview, you’re put on the spot right away. Fear paralyzes your body. Your heart pounds uncontrollably. Your hands sweat. You begin to panic, as you feel yet another job opportunity slipping right through your fingers.

Ace your job interviewAll of this, before either of you utters a word. In only seven short syllables, your job interview nightmare has come to life.

“So… tell me about yourself.”

What’s the right answer? What should you say? How do you avoid looking like a babbling fool? What does the hiring manager want to hear from you, anyway?

Here’s the good news: everyone else that steps into that room feels the same way you do. This question may crush their chances of landing the job, but you don’t have to be crushed along with them. Instead, these 5 words of doom could turn into the platform you need to rise to the top of the heap.

If only you knew what to say.

Here’s some more good news. There is no single right answer. Hiring managers don’t ask this question to trick you, determine your mind-reading ability, or test your skills of divination.

The reasons managers ask this question are straightforward. Once you understand them, you can prepare your answer, meet the need, sell yourself, and stand above the crowd of trembling job-seekers who have no idea what to say.

What are they looking for?

Preparation

How badly do you want this job? Often, candidates answer “tell me about yourself” with “What do you want to know?” That’s like saying, “Ask me a real question I can answer.” This tells the person on the other side of the desk that you’re not prepared.

Worse, it tells her that you’re not interested in fighting hard for the position. It says that this interview is just another appointment on your calendar. It shows that you couldn’t care less whether you get the job or not.

9 out of 10 people entering that room will “wing it.” Someone will grab the opportunity, prepare a thoughtful response, and immediately make her take notice. Why not let that person be you?

Presentation

Who would you rather work with? A “ho-hum” person that “gets by”, or a person with a drive to succeed and a problem-solving mindset? “Tell me about yourself” is open-ended on purpose. The hiring manager wants a chance to see you in action.

How will coworkers, customers, and clients see you? What impression of the company will they take away from their interaction with you? As the face of the company, it’ll be up to you to provide a can-do spirit to whatever challenges come your way.

The first glimpse managers get about how you’ll handle those situations is the way you respond to “tell me about yourself.” Does the pressure cook you, or do you own the day? Do you know who you are, or do you doubt yourself when the spotlight shines on you?

They’re not looking for the right answer. They’re looking for the right person. Your preparation for this question affords you the chance to present yourself as someone people want to work with and do business with.

Potential

This is where the rubber meets the road. “Tell me about yourself” is a bit deceptive, in a way. Managers really don’t want to know about you. They want to know if you’re a good fit for the hole in their organization.

This helps you when you prepare, because it eliminates a lot of the fluff that makes you look foolish in an interview. What should you leave out of your life history when answering this question? Almost everything.

You have about a minute or less to answer this question. Any more than that, and you show a lack of focus that dooms your chances. In that minute, you have a golden opportunity to leave the pack behind. While others stumble and stammer their way out of contention, your well-prepared answer will show managers that you’re serious and in it to win it.

Now that you know what managers are looking for, how do you give it to them? How do you prepare and deliver a home run answer to the question everyone asks? Next time, we’ll discover your own perfect “me” message, so you can stop trembling and start entertaining job offers.

Now that you know what managers are looking for, how do you give it to them? How do you prepare and deliver a home run answer to the question everyone asks? Next time, we’ll discover your own perfect “me” message, so you can stop trembling and start entertaining job offers.

Watch Part I of my video discussing difficult job interview questions here.

Watch Part II of my video discussing difficult job interview questions here.


Make an investment in your future with a resume / CV and cover letter written by Vivian Adkins, CPRW of Foremost Resumes. Foremost Resumes offers affordable resume writing services – resume prices are published here. If you have any questions about my resume services, call or text 1-321-442-7994.

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If you found this post helpful, I’d be grateful if you would help spread it by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+.

Thank you!

—Vivian Adkins, Resume Writer at Foremost Resumes

About Author

Vivian Adkins, CPRW
Vivian Adkins, CPRW is the owner of Foremost Résumés and a Certified Résumé Writer. On this blog you can learn about résumés, how LinkedIn can help with your job search, how to conduct an online job search, and more.
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