So tell me about yourself.
It’s one of the most common questions that get asked during an interview. And for most people, they have no idea how to respond.
“Well I uh… I’m 5’ 10”, love cute puppies and am currently learning to play the guitar in my spare time.”
Most people would reply with something trivial, such as their life story, background or what their hobbies are. The problem is that these answers tell the hiring manager nothing about who you really are. In my own organization, we’ve had thousands and thousands of interviews with potential candidates. When we ask them this question, some of these people have frozen on the spot and have no idea what to say, while others have answered them exceptionally well.
That’s why we’ve compiled some of the best answers we’ve received and listed them here, so you know exactly what to say to impress the interviewer and secure yourself as a strong candidate for the position.
First Impressions Matter – Make It Count
The most likely time the question “Tell me about yourself” occurs is when you and the hiring manager meet each other for the first time. You have just met and the interviewer knows nothing about you besides how you look, what you are wearing, and the credentials that you have listed on your resume.
This is your moment to shine. And it is the ONLY moment you have to do so. I cannot stress enough how crucial this moment is, because largely what you say here will determine whether or not you get the job. An interview generally lasts no longer than an hour, but results from a survey of 2,000 hiring managers found that 33% knew whether they would hire someone in the first 90 seconds.
Remember: The first impression you make will be your last one. When you meet someone for the first time, you unconsciously judge them based them on a number of factors such as their appearance, tonality, behavior and energy. That initial judgement is known as a first impression, and will affect how you interact and perceive that person. That’s why it is very important to know how to answer the question “Tell me about yourself”, as it is one of the most frequently asked questions at the beginning of an interview. What you say in this moment will determine the course of the entire interview, and if you answer poorly, your chances of getting hired drastically plummet.The first impression you make will be your last. Click To Tweet
What To Actually Say When They Ask “Tell Me About Yourself”
So how do you answer the question “Tell me about yourself” in a way that makes a good first impression, as well as tells them about your credentials?
First, you must realize what they are actually asking you. When an employer asks you that question, they do not want to actually hear anything about yourself. Rather, they are asking the question “How can you bring value to this company?”
They want to know what skills you have. How you can help them solve their problems. What can you bring to the table, who have you worked with in the past and what kind of results you have produced for them. That is what employers are actually asking when they ask you to tell them about yourself. Your personal hobbies, likes and dislikes, and how cute your dog may be does not interest them. They want to know how you can be an asset to their organization.
The Kind of Person Companies Really Want To Hire
Does that mean that it’s okay to tell a few lies and make claims that aren’t true? While it may be tempting to make an outrageous claim that makes you sound valuable to the interviewer, even if you do get hired you won’t last very long if you aren’t able to produce the kind of results you’ve promised. It wastes your time and the company’s time, as well as gives you a bad reputation as a liar. Instead of trying to come up with stories and facts to create a persona that is not you, follow the old age advice and just be yourself.
However, most people misunderstand what it means to be themselves – especially in a professional environment like an interview. They think that being themselves means they can do whatever they want. As a result, they allow their flaws and bad habits begin to show, and in a setting such as an interview, letting your hiring manager know about your tendency to show up late is not something wise to share.
The First Date
Think of an interview like a date. You should be yourself and honest about who you are. But that doesn’t mean sharing everything about yourself right from the beginning and scaring them off. Instead, take your time and share only the things that would make your relationship beneficial. Think about what information you could reveal to increase their interest in you, and what information you should withhold because it doesn’t benefit either of you.
Be genuine with your words, body language, tonality and how you interact with them. The truth is when it comes to hiring the best candidate for a position, many companies look at factors other than just competency. For example, in my own organization we are very strict when it comes to hiring the right candidate. We’ve had applicants that have the experience we were looking for and more than competent for the position, but a poor match in other areas. Competency and skills may make you an ideal candidate, but in a company with many people and a certain culture, how you interact with others also plays a part in determining whether you will get the job. That is why you should always be looking to put the best version of yourself out there, because who you are matters just as much as what you can do.In any interaction, aim to be the best version of yourself. Click To Tweet
We All Listen to WIIFM
Just like on a date, your hiring manager is constantly listening to the radio station WIIFM, which stands for “What’s In It For Me”. No matter how impressive your credentials, resume and skills may be, if you aren’t tuned in to WIIFM, your prospect is not going to listen. In an interview, always look to tie back what you say to how it can be of value to them and the company.
For example, let’s say you are interviewing for the position of Social Media Manager, and the first question your interviewer asks you is “tell me about yourself.”
What Not To Say:
“Well, I grew up with social media and I’ve used it my whole life. I’m very familiar with it and just about 3 years ago I thought hey maybe I should make a living doing this. So I started playing with it, and since then I’ve taken on a few clients and am now planning to get married. My fiancé said i should get a stable job, so here I am and I’m looking for a company that offers good growth opportunities and thought this would be a good company, since this place isn’t too far from my home.”
How would you feel if you were the hiring manager and you heard this kind of response? You’d probably think “Wow this person has a big ego, all they talk about is themselves!”In order to know what you should say, you can follow simple formula I call The Three S’s.
The Three S’s To Interview Success
The first ‘S’ is success. You want to list out your accomplishments and what you have achieved in the past. A good way to start off the conversation is with ‘I have been ____’ or ‘My background is ____’.
“I have been doing social media for the last 3 years, and I specialize in helping companies and entrepreneurs grow their Facebook page. In the last 3 years alone I’ve helped dozens of clients in over 10 different industries increase their engagement and grow their fanbase by 300- 500% in less than 6 months. This is what I am passionate about, and have listed some of the clients I have worked with in my reference letter.”
The second ‘S’ stands for strength. You want to name something that you are good at, something that not everyone can do. The more specific your strength is, the more valuable it will be. You can start off this sentence with ‘My strength is ____’.
“My strength is the ability to truly understand what the audience wants. I pride myself and my reputation on creating engaging and compelling content that your audience will love and want to share.”
The third ‘S’ stands for situation. This is where you let your interviewer know what they can expect from you, and what you are looking for from them. This last and final sentence begins with ‘What I am looking for is ____’.
“What I am looking for is a company that I can add value to. A company where I can produce optimal results and generate for them a positive return on their investment. Where I can join a strong team, and work alongside like-minded people who also want to grow and improve themselves. Is this what <company name> is looking for?”
After going through all of the 3 S’s, from here the hiring manager would either tell you “Yes that is exactly the kind of person we are looking for”, or they may say “No that is not quite what we were looking for”. In either case, you have informed the hiring manager of your qualifications, why you are valuable and what you are looking for. If both of you are a good fit, there is a very good chance that you would be a serious candidate for the position. And if you aren’t a good fit, then you know you don’t have to waste your time and can focus on finding another company that aligns with both of your needs.
The Closer’s Mindset To Interview Success
In any conversation, you always want to be closing. Even in an interview, you can think of it as a sales call with a prospect. You are selling yourself – your skills and results you can produce, to the hiring manager. What separates you from everyone else and ultimately will get you hired, is how well you can communicate your value to the interviewer. That is why one of the most important tricks you can use to re-frame the interview is to end your statement with a question.
Remember this: Whoever asks the questions controls the conversation. By asking the interviewer “Is this what <company name> is looking for”, you take control of the conversation. Instead of being the person answering the questions, you are now the person asking them.
Does that mean you should follow a script during the interview? The answer is absolutely YES. In a sales call with a prospect, it makes no sense that you would go in unprepared. The same can be said for an interview. You want to prepare yourself – write out what you want to say and how to say it. You don’t want to simply memorize – during the interview you will be stressed and forget what you wanted to say. Practice and rehearse your words many times until the words flow naturally, so when they ask you to “tell me about yourself”, you are prepared and ready to go.Whoever asks the questions controls the conversation. Click To Tweet
Beyond Sales and Business – The Skill of Closing
When it comes to an interview, it is no different than a sales meeting. You rehearse what you will say before the meeting. You have someone you are trying to influence, by communicating your value. And if you’ve followed the 3 S’s properly, you will be the one they pick because of what you can bring to the table.
The art of closing goes beyond just sales and business. In any conversation you have, you are constantly trying to influence the other person to see your point of view. Those who have mastered the ability to lead, influence and communicate, are the type of person people find themselves drawn to.
If you want to equip yourself with practical business knowledge, learn how to communicate with conviction, so you can finally get the respect you deserve and attain your goals, check out my free masterclass here on communication and the art of closing.