By Tyng Kam, Stride Career Prep Success Coach
Whenever I help a student prepare for an interview, I like to begin the conversation with, “Tell me about yourself”. It’s a great way to start the conversation and often the first question an interviewer asks at an interview. Most of the time, my students stumble and have difficulty answering this question well. To tackle it, let’s begin by understanding why the interviewer likes to ask this question.
Well, it eases them into a conversation, and it’s a great way to get to know someone you’re meeting for the first time. It’s not uncommon for recruiters and managers to schedule a few interviews on the same day. While they have read your resume, they may not memorize all the details. Interviewers are hoping your introduction will get them up to speed about who you are, what you’re doing now, and how you can contribute to this position. This is also a simple way to identify some direction for the interview. The interviewer can figure out the following questions based on your response and continue with a conversation.
Here is a simple formula I recommend to structure your answer to the question in three steps.
What’re you doing currently? Brief highlights on what you’re doing, your current academic focus, and a recent achievement that applies to the position.
What’ve you done in the past? Tell the interviewer how you’ve managed your academic and extracurriculum achievements; mention your skills and experiences that apply to the job you’re interviewing for.
Where do you see yourself going? Share your vision with the interviewer by telling them what you plan to do next and how this job aligns with your goal.
An interviewer aims to find the candidate who best fits the position that they are looking to fill. Therefore, a brilliant reply to “tell me about yourself” should answer:
Why you are the right candidate for the position. To understand what the interviewer is looking for, you want to analyze the job description, research the company, and match your profile to the position. Your profile includes, but is not limited to, your education, skills, personality, competency, and past professional and volunteering experiences.
Why are you interested in this position? This is an excellent opportunity to share your objective and vision. By sharing your vision, you are communicating your future value to the company. But make sure your aim aligns with the company’s general goal.
Practice your answer but don’t memorize it. You want to be confident but also genuine in the conversation. Reciting your memorized speech takes away the authenticity and makes it harder for people to connect with you.
Finally, be yourself and don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm in your answer. A passionate individual is attractive to most people. It helps to create a positive first impression.
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Start your interview off right with three tips for answering the "Tell Me About Yourself" question.