How to Answer "Tell Me About Yourself"
Don't tell your life story - focus on relevant information
Your response should cover five categories:
- Recent professional achievements
- Educational achievements
- Relevant skills
- Professional goals
- Reason for interest in the company
Do not go over 30 seconds per category unless necessary. That gives you a 2 minute and 30 second presentation. Try not to go less than two minutes, and avoid going over 3 minutes.
- Know your own strengths and weaknesses. Write down five strengths and one weakness. Include a short example of an accomplishment for each strength. For the weakness, write up a specific situation where you’ve turned that weakness into a strength.
- Plan what you want to communicate to the interviewer
- Make direct eye contact with the interviewer during conversation. Listen and respond to the questions with interest and enthusiasm. Smile, stay relaxed but alert. Be energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and polite.
- Write down your two most significant accomplishments, and make them sound interesting. Let the interviewer enjoy your accomplishments.
- Be specific; cite facts. Use concrete examples.
- Quantify your achievements in numbers if possible.
- Gently dramatize the problem so your achievements can be important.
- Use “I”, not “we”. It's you they might hire!
- What is unique about what you did? Leave out the methodology unless they ask how you did it. Be relevant to the interviewer’s questions.
- Always make a point that favors your cause.
- Ask questions about the position, company, and the interviewer. (Get them talking about themselves, and listen).
- Don't ask questions about salary, bonuses, vacations, benefits, or anything else the company can do for you. Wait until you’ve received the job offer.
- Help the interview conclude. Tell him/her what is relevant about your achievement; ‘which means that...’
- Ask For The Job. Many times all a hiring manager is waiting to hear are the words “I am really excited about this opportunity, and I am eager to join your team.” At the end of the interview, tell the interviewer that you are interested in the job, and want to know what the next steps are. Make sure to present your strengths well. Sometimes you have to ask for the job to understand what points you need to get across.
- Ask for the interviewer's business card so you can write a thank you letter as soon as possible.
Phone Interview Tips
- If the interviewer calls you unexpectedly when you're not prepared, ask to set another time for the call.
- Have your resume and talking points printed out and with you, and be ready to take notes. For each aspect of the job description, be sure to have your qualifications written down.
- Use a quiet, comfortable, and private space. Avoid voices in the background. Be alone in the room if possible.
- Have a glass of water at hand. A telephone interview can run from 30 minutes to one hour.
- Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice.
- The interviewer can't see your body language, so use your voice to express your emotions. Talk a bit slower than usual. Don't worry about pauses, the interviewer is more than likely just making some notes.
- Sound interesting/interested, energetic and enthusiastic.
- Stand up or assume an upright posture (if you choose to sit down) during the interview. This will make you sound more confident. Telephone interviews take away your ability to project your personality through gestures and facial expressions, but going through the motions can help your presentation on the phone.
- Write down any questions you would like to ask ahead of time, especially if the answers are crucial to your decision to move forward or not.
- Use the interviewer's name regularly throughout the conversation (but not all the time). Also, use the company name a few times
After the Interview
- Express appreciation for the interviewer's time and consideration.
- Tell each interviewer that you are interested, and why you are an ideal candidate.
- Find out what the next steps are. “I'm very excited about this opportunity. What's our next step?”
- After leaving the interview, write down key issues that were raised or uncovered during the interview. Think of the qualifications the company is looking for and match your strengths to them, and come back to us about the interview feedback.
- Send a thank you letter within two days of the interview.