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"Tell me about yourself"

by: Michael R. Neece, CEO Interview Mastery

"Tell me about yourself" is the most common interview question and the first question interviewers ask. Plan and practice your response so you can use this question to your advantage. Knowing how to respond will help you influence the interview's direction in your favor.

Here is a three step response strategy;
First, provide a brief overview of your most relevant experience. The interviewer is not interested in a history lesson, but they are interested in your most recent experience that is relevant. The overview of your experience should be presented in reverse chronological order.

Second, highlight a few of your experience, education and personal qualities like "results- focused", "persistence" and "detail oriented". This is one of the only times during the interview when you can highlight some of your personal qualities, so take advantage of it.

Third, ask a question to uncover this interviewer's hidden job requirements. This is called the "Target Question" and it is described in detail in Interview Mastery's module titled "Opening."

Keep your response brief, between 60 and 90 seconds. Speaking longer will lose the interviewer's attention. If at any point, you feel you have been speaking too long, stop and ask the interviewer a question. For example, you might ask "Am I giving you enough or too much detail at this point?" Asking a question will solicit a response from the interviewer, re-engage their attention, and help promote a two way conversation.

Below is a sample fill-in-the-blank template to help you prepare your response. Please note that this is just a guide to get you started. Also notice that I concluded the response with a question.

"I'm a (insert a descriptive position title) with expertise and skills in __________, __________ and, __________. My experience includes __________ (insert knowledge or skill) and __________. My industry experience encompasses the __________ (industry) and, __________ industries. My background also includes roles as ___________ (position title), ___________ (position title) and, ___________ (position title). My education/certifications include __________ (degree or certification) and __________ (degree or certification). Colleagues describe me as __________ (insert personal quality i.e. results focused or detailed oriented), __________ and, __________. (Interview Mastery provides a list of 20+ strengths for you to select from). Highlights of my professional accomplishments related to this opportunity are _________________________ (describe the results you delivered) when I was the ___________ (position title) at ___________ (company )
and _________________________ when I was the ___________ (position title) at ___________ (company)".

"What parts of my background would you like to discuss first? Or “In your opinion, what are the key skills required to be successful in this position?”

Best of luck on your next interview. It is the most important moment in your search for a better position.