You’ve inevitably seen it on someone’s Instagram or Tinder bio: Dog lover, Eagles fan, Sagittarius, and wanderlust. Is that necessarily WHO you are though? In most cases, the answer is no. These superficial qualities, while able to capture others’ attention on some platforms, are not necessarily a great way to describe your true self at all, especially in a professional setting.
Similarly, the question is asked in an average Joe interviewing process for a prospective job: So, tell me a bit about yourself.
The ultimate “right answer” is not just stating what the hiring manager wants to hear or who you are on the surface, but how can you best answer the question to portray your true self and your accomplishments. What is it going to take to tell your story in brief, while also being genuine and not leaving out important details? We have all been in this scenario before and understand the anxious feeling of uncertainty that comes from it.
So you might be asking, “How should I answer this question then?” Well, when employers say “tell me about yourself” they are not interested in what your horoscope sign is. They want to know what qualities you bring to the table that make you a stronger candidate than those who are interested in filling that same role. Think about your career and experience leading up to this interview and separate your answer into three distinct groups: Who you are, your experience in your career thus far, and how it ties into the job you are applying for.
Who You Are
Introduce yourself as your current occupation; if you work in graphic design, introduce yourself as a graphic designer. Include any major achievements that you have obtained during the time of your current role that are relevant to the job you are interviewing for. This allows the interviewer to get to know who you are on a professional level.
Employers are looking for the most qualified individuals to fill positions within their organization. Presenting yourself in a way that exemplifies the most relevant skills and experience to the role you are applying for will help you during your interview.
Think about the words Saved, Achieved, and Made or S.A.M. for short. “What did I save for the company I previously worked at?” “What did I achieve for the company that I previously worked for?” and “What did I make for the company that I previously worked for?” are all valid questions to ask yourself when listing relevant experience from your past job(s). Focus on what has helped you grow and led you to this job opportunity. While on this part, be sure to elaborate your success by using measurable metrics. For example, for your previous employers, how much money you saved, how many awards you helped them achieve, and how much money did you make them?
How It Ties In
After going through the first two parts with the interviewer, it is time to come full circle. Explain how what you do and what you have learned is necessary for this job. Even if it does not line up 100 percent with what the interviewer is looking for, find ways to compare your previous work to the one you are applying for. Are they both major roles with a considerable amount of responsibility, or is your current role less than what you are applying for and you would like to work your way up and challenge yourself?
It is recommended that you keep your answers short and to the point. “Tell me about yourself” is an open-ended question, but you should not take more than two-three minutes to finish your answer. It is best to practice how you plan to answer prior to the interview so that you are confident in what you say and do not stray off path.
Therefore, these are some simple suggestions on how to answer such a big question. Following the simple blueprint of who you are, what your experience is, and how it is relevant can go such a long way in an interview without revealing too much of your life story that isn’t necessarily relevant. You can always elaborate where you’re asked to but for this question it’s best to keep it simple! Now go ahead and tell your story.
Written By: Spencer Ford
ISGF Marketing Contributor