One of the most frequently used interview questions is the standard, “tell me about yourself.” It can take other forms such as “walk me through your resume” or “what do I need to know about you?” but the interviewer is handing you an opportunity to tell your story. How you answer this single question can have a significant impact on the overall outcome of your interview.
You are the expert on you so this should be an easy question but many people struggle with it. They are not comfortable talking about themselves and focusing on their accomplishments. It is important to remember that this is what your competition for the job is doing so you need to be well prepared to address this question.
Remember, the interviewer is focused on your professional story, not your life story. Do not begin with when you were born! Resist sharing the details of elementary school, junior high and high school. The interviewer really doesn’t need to know about your parents’ divorce, problems with your siblings or other life details. Focus on your professional life. Focus on the highlights.
Focus on your career and tell your story emphasizing key skills and accomplishments. This is an opportunity to highlight the things you are most proud of in your career and also to focus on what is most relevant to the hiring manager’s needs. Don’t use your entire response talking about how successfully you worked on your own if the hiring manager needs someone who can work as part of a team.
Use this as an opportunity to explain your career transitions. What did you accomplish in the specific job and what skills did you develop. Why did you leave and what did the new opportunity bring as challenges. Tell your story focusing on your continued growth and development. Focus on key skills you developed or enhanced.
This should not be a half hour, rambling response. Practice answering this question so you are prepared to do it professionally and succinctly. Make the interviewer want to ask follow-up questions and learn more about specific projects.