“So, tell me about yourself”
Almost every interview I’ve ever been on has opened with this question. When I became a recruiter, I also used this question right off the top to set the tone for the interview.
Interviewers typically ask this question for three reasons: to learn about you, to determine your level of confidence, and to evaluate your ability to market yourself. The right answer can steer the rest of the interview.
What You Shouldn’t Say
Not having an answer is the only incorrect way to answer this question. Answering with, “I don’t know what to say,” or “what do you want to know?” is a surefire way to have your application buried behind another applicant. Not having a fully formed answer to this question means you’re unprepared for the interview, or you’re complexly unaware of your work trajectory to date – neither of which make you look like an appealing candidate.
What You Should Say
Do not wing this question! Instead, do some research and self-reflection. The interviewer wants to hear a well-thought-out answer filled with insight about your career milestones and future goals, not about your personal life. Prepare your points by asking yourself some important questions:
- Why did you enter your profession?
- What was your first major career highlight?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What do you want to accomplish in your career?
- What are your five strengths as it relates to this position?
- What do you want the interviewer to know about you?
- What are you looking for in your current position?
Some Final Notes
Take your answers and create a short 2-3 minute script. Begin by mentioning your past experiences and accomplishments, then mention your strengths and abilities. Conclude your monologue by mentioning what you’re looking for in your upcoming position.