“Tell Me About Yourself”: How to Put Together a 90-Second Answer
Author: Peter K. Studner
August, 2015 Issue
1. Start with a brief introduction. State your name and thank the person for his or her time.
2. My background is... List your degrees or certificates and the schools you attended. Avoid mentioning dates, unless you’re asked.
3. I specialize in... Briefly describe your area of expertise and/or any particular skills you have. At this point, it wouldn’t hurt to mention a good accomplishment. For example, “During my last job, I was instrumental in bringing in three new clients with first-year sales of $6.7 million.”
4. I’ve worked at... Share your most pertinent jobs, not a list of every position you’ve ever had. Remember that the interviewer has a copy of your résumé. (And just in case he or she doesn’t, make sure you bring a copy to the interview.) Again, you might put in another brief accomplishment to support your expertise. “We reformed our sales team, and I recruited three new associates. We exceeded our sales goals by 43 percent!”
5. I was responsible for... Again, don’t recite a laundry list of all the responsibilities you held in your previous job. Share the most prominent and pertinent.
6. I’m especially proud of... List one or two additional major accomplishments, including the benefits they brought to your employer(s). Don’t fall in the trap of getting into the details of how you achieved each accomplishment. Of course, you might be asked, “How did you do that?” Then you know you’ve hit pay dirt, as the interviewer may have an identical problem that you already know how to solve.
7. I’m excited to be here because... The interviewer obviously knows you’re at the meeting because you’re looking for a job—this is an opportunity to make it a bit more personal. Using (well-researched) details, you might mention the company’s reputation, products, management, technology, international scope, etc., and how these things fit with your skills and aspirations. If you’re currently unemployed, this might also be a good place to share a plausible reason for leaving your last position.
8. Close, but keep the conversation flowing. Turn the questions back to the interviewer with, “So I can better relate to you, could you please tell me a little about your [company, department]?”
Note that some of these components might change from interview to interview. Before each meeting, think about which of your skills would best fit with this particular company and this particular job. Consider what problems the company might have and how you can solve them. Then tweak your pitch to reflect your conclusions.
Once you’ve developed your response, record yourself reciting it, speaking slowly enough that someone hearing it for the first time will be able to understand and process what you’re saying. Edit, improve and record again and again until you can deliver it as easily as telling a favorite anecdote.
Peter K. Studner is the author of Super Job Search IV. He’s a master career counselor and former chief executive and board member of companies in the United States, France and Great Britain. He’s helped thousands of people with their career transitions and trains other career professionals to deliver this easy-to-follow program.To learn more, please visit www.SuperJobSearch.com.
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