Don't worry, you aren't the only one that feels a variety of emotions when asked the simple question, "Tell me about yourself". Most people get nervous because it often feels like a set up to see how much information they can get out of you. It's amazing how many thoughts run through our heads at the surprise of the question, although it's always a question that is used by interviewers. My response was always to ask the panel a question. I would say, "Tell me, what would you like to know about me?" It never worked because the interviewer would say, "Please tell us what you feel comfortable sharing with us." That would always drive me into a state of paranoia to try to say enough, but not to say too much. Remember, you are not being questioned about your entire life history, but it helps to give more than your name, rank, serial number or your social security number.
So rather than working yourself into a state of anxiety, let's look at ways to make the question an opportunity to highlight your expertise and your amazing achievements. Try thinking of the question as a time to share the best parts of yourself. It's also something that we advise clients to practice with friends or when meeting new people in a networking setting or event. It's similar to providing a 2-minute introduction to unknown participants or colleagues on a Zoom conference call. We all know how important it is to be clear and concise. It's a great idea if you want to make notes or jot down a few bullet points. Practicing in front of a mirror is also a great way to notice your facial expressions. It's best to focus briefly on your background, your accomplishments, and the significance of what you do. Often, it helps to include the impact of your work on others.
When preparing the tell me about yourself response, think about it as a story that you are going to share about yourself. It's important to engage the audience, build interest, create trust and share the love of your work, and what you can bring to the table. Being observant of those sitting around the table asking the questions is key. Facial expressions tell a lot, so notice if there are key words that can make someone smile, lift an eyebrow or nod their head in agreement. If that happens it is a great connection of your experience and skills.
One of the biggest mistakes made is when someone, whether at a cocktail party meeting new people or applying for a contract or a new position is starting a conversation with their title at an organisation. Think about ways to make it an interesting conversation that others will also find interesting. Many of my friends tease me because titles or positions mean little to me until I get to know people. Building solid relationships have always been at the top of my list. I have always been more interested in how people treat others than in their titles or positions. Often when I meet new people and we are chatting, I often refer to my years of living in Washington, D.C. and the work that I enjoyed because I worked with teenagers. As the conversation continues, someone will always ask the question, where and why did you work in D.C., it sounds great. If there is a friend nearby they will usually shove me or answer the question with delight. Otherwise, I simply share with folks that I worked in the Obama Administration with the Office of National Drug Control Policy as a Media Policy Analyst managing the Above the Influence Media Campaign, a national youth anti-drug campaign designed to reduce drug use among teens. Remember, when you are clear in your response it may allow others to ask deeper questions about your work and how it may relate. It also helps to be humble and to understand that none of us are the positions that we have held throughout our careers. But we are the people that influenced change and had an impact on our priority communities.
By establishing credibility, it demonstrates your knowledge in the area where you may be applying. For example, if you are applying for a trainer, one could say, I graduated from a University with a degree in Education and I designed training curricula for a local company for 5 years. The next part slides right into sharing what led you into this profession or line of work. Always be prepared to share examples of your achievements.
Often you may be asked at the end of an interview, why do you think we should hire you? Try not to get flustered, but use it as an opportunity to recap everything that you have shared during the interview as well as pulling from the answers that you provided to their questions. It's an opportunity to comprise a summary of your meeting, listing 3 to 5 items to indicate why you are the right person for the position.
One helpful tip is to practice with your closest friends that will support and be completely honest with you in helping you to create the best 2 to 3 minutes response to Tell Me About Yourself. Good luck in reaching your goals.
If you have any questions, please contact a team member at Promotions West at firstname.lastname@example.org