Tell me about yourself
This is probably the single most popular question that interviewers use for opening an interview. But don’t take the question as an invitation to recount your entire life’s history. When you hear this question, answer by pretending that they had actually asked you: Tell me briefly about your professional experience and the relevant qualities that make you a strong candidate for this job. (TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF)
Don’t make the classic mistake of sharing too much personal information with your interviewer. I’ve heard too many candidates start by telling the interviewer where they were born and where they went to school and what they studied there. It’s not a wrong answer as such, but by telling them about your personal history, your opportunity to sell your experience and relevant skills fly by.
All the interviewer needs is a snapshot – a summary lasting no more than a minute or 90 seconds – of your background and experience. Be sure to prepare one before your interview.
Read the original job advertisement and pick up on the keywords and phrases the interviewers are looking for. These may be about certain skills or experience, or perhaps human qualities they want the perfect candidate to have. Squeeze some of these words and phrases into your answer. For instance, if the advert mentions that the employer is looking for ‘a supervisor with excellent communication and people management skills’, mention any supervisory experience you’ve gained, as well as the fact that you are articulate and enjoy communicating and liaising with a wide range of people.
Example answers include
I am a management consultant with 12 years’ experience gained across industries and sectors ranging from financial services and retail to petrochemicals and media. I am responsible for business development activities and last year sold projects totalling £400,000 to clients. On a day-to-day basis, I also manage a team of up to eight consultants and junior consultants. But more than being a good consult-ant, I like to think of myself as a fair and democratic person as I try hard to listen to my clients as well as my team.
I’m currently the floor supervisor at Molly’s, which is a busy bar and restaurant in Brighton. I’m responsible for all aspects of management, ranging from stock taking and ordering to end of day cashing up. I run a team of seven staff and am responsible for training, hiring, and firing. The hours can be quite long, but I enjoy it and like the mix of activities from dealing with customers to managing the staff.
I’ve been a childcare assistant for the last three years, working with physically and mentally impaired children between the ages of eight and 14. I’ve really enjoyed it and have developed some skills such as being creative and being extremely patient. I also spend a lot of time dealing with the children’s parents and have to demonstrate really good listening skills with them. I’ve now decided that I want to
expand my horizons and travel, which is why I’ve decided to change careers into being a holiday rep – but I hope that my creativity, patience, and listening skills will hold me in good stead in this new industry.
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