There’s one question that’s guaranteed to be asked in every job interview – ‘tell me about yourself’. This question isn’t quite as straightforward as it may seem, as it’s not really so much about who you are, but about how you work. What’s really being asked is ‘why are you the right person for us to hire?’.
The hiring manager wants to know about you as a professional and how you’d fit into the company. They want to learn about you present yourself – are you confident, quiet, reserved, outgoing, etc. The manner in which you answer this question is as important as the content of the answer itself. If you find that it’s hard to talk about yourself, practice until it feels natural. A strong delivery of your answer helps project competence and confidence in your own ability.
Remember this acronym – WIIFM.
The point of answering this question is to sell yourself to the hiring manager, not to talk about your entire life story. To best do this, you’ll want to answer ‘what’s in it for me?’ – easy to remember as WIIFM. The ‘me’ in this instance is the company, so you’re essentially answering what does the company gain by hiring you?
Don’t talk about your personal life.
The interviewer wants to know who you are professionally, not personally. You can intersperse a few personal details that support your professional story while answering the question, but do so sparingly. The interviewer doesn’t need to know all of your hobbies and passions, but feel free to mention one or two if they’re relevant to the job you’re interviewing for.
Speak about your most relevant skills.
You’ll want to tailor your answer to be relevant to the role you’re interviewing for. Always speak about both soft skills and technical skills to show that you’re a well rounded employee, and then dive into role-specific skills. If it’s a management role, focus on leadership skills and highlight any successes you’ve had leading a previous team. If it’s a technical role, you should also highlight skills that could be complementary, like soft skills and leadership abilities.
Providing examples strengthens everything you say. Rather than just saying ‘I’m a team player and believe in the power of collaboration.’, back it up with an example that illustrates that point. Talk about a time where you worked well on a team and the results that were a result of good teamwork. Explain why you feel so strongly about the power of collaboration and how that influences the way you work.
Keep it simple and short.
You want to pique the interest of the hiring manager so that they’ll be eager to hear what else you have to say as you answer the rest of their questions. The key is to give enough detail to prove your value, but so much that your answer drags on and on. Keep it short so you have plenty of time to answer the remaining interview questions without needing to rush through them.