Previously we’ve touched on this question; in theory one of the most easy to answer possible, but a lot more difficult in practice. What does the interviewer mean? ‘Tell me about yourself’. Your family and kids? Your life experience? Your drunken weekend that got a little out of hand?
Let’s discount that last one, straightaway. But the question is so open-ended, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s eight tips to help you get off on the right foot in the interview.
Do your homework researching the company, its history and, if possible, culture. Go through the job description and ask yourself what they were hoping to achieve with this job advert. Then use that information to tailor your answers to the company.
Again this speaks for itself but the openness of the question can lead the mind down a path you don’t want to go down. Unless something about the company tells you otherwise – and this is where your judgement comes in – keep the talk to work rather than hobbies and other extra-curricular activities.
Interviewers will be looking for people who really care about their work, and who can bring dedication into the company. Nobody wants to hire robots… they want people, with real emotions and experience and skills. So show what makes you stand out.
Remember how you felt the last time someone delivered a PowerPoint presentation and just read aloud what was on the screen? Nobody needs that. The interviewer will have your CV in front of them and is perfectly capable of reading it themselves. What they need is the context. And keep an eye on the visual clues coming back at you. If people are looking distracted, it might be time to wrap it up. If they’re slumped in their chair, it may have already passed that point.
You don’t want to be approaching this for the first time in the interview, so practice it a few times beforehand – in your head and out loud. Then if possible practice with others, to get their feedback on how you came across.
There’s a chance you might be asked all about yourself more than once in the process, and the answer could be different based on who you’re talking to. If it’s a room of recruiters who don’t know the finer points of the job, then don’t explain everything to the minute detail. Talk more broadly about what you can bring to the job. If it’s with your direct boss, go ahead and show your knowledge.
Did your last job end in less-than-perfect circumstances? It happens. But don’t feel you have to go into it at this point. This part is about building a first impression. If the reasons behind leaving your last job are relevant, there’ll be a specific time to disclose it later in the process.
You’ll have heard so many times how important this is, but that’s because it’s true. Although you can’t really seal a job in the first minute or so of meeting the interviewer, you can sure blow your chances of getting it. Smile and be polite – shake their hand, make eye contact, and show you’re prepared for this interview and determined to make the most of it.