It’s usually the prompt that starts off every first interview. But if it’s so common, why do so many job candidates stumble over their answers? Perhaps it’s because many of us are bad at talking about ourselves. Most of us aren’t storytellers, either, so it’s difficult to decide which parts of our unabridged autobiographies to highlight.
We compiled tips from around the web to help you prepare your pitch-perfect answer. Let’s dive in:
- Many job candidates assume the question is a way for the interviewer to get to know you and get a feel for who you are as person, so they talk about personal things like their family and where they’re from. That can be a mistake. It’s more likely they want to know how your experience relates to the job. Monster.com offers advice on how to avoid getting too personal and, instead, focus on how you’ll fit the position.
- Career Coach Laura DeCarlo warns not to weave your answer into a “spider web” of information that is confusing, irrelevant, and may even cost you the job offer. Instead, answer focusing on two parts: 1) How/why you’re qualified, and 2) Why you applied. Read more here.
- Employers also want to know that you can succinctly tell your story because being a great communicator is a soft skill not everyone has. Indeed offers prompts to help you practice a fun, engaging response that gets to the heart of why you’re the right hire in two minutes or less.
- That all being said, the question is also meant to break the tension and give you a chance to show your personality. You need to strike the right chord between reciting your resume and divulging that you’re ready to start a family. Showing passion and exhibiting a sense of humor, for instance, can be great ways to set yourself apart. The Muse offers ways to do that within a professional context.
Your recruiter can also offer tips to customize your answer to the “tell me about yourself” prompt, depending on what each employer is looking for. Your answer to that question should be different each and every time, depending on who is asking and what the job description is. Plan ahead and prepare an answer that hits all the right notes without leading the interviewer down a rabbit hole.
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