How to Love "Tell Us About Yourself"

by: Joanne Meehl

Panel interview "Tell us about yourself..."

"Tell us about yourself" is often the first thing an interviewer says to you. Whether face-to-face or on the phone, what exactly do they want to know?

The person saying "Tell us about yourself" doesn't want to know where you were born or how many kids you have. They want to hear you talk and see how you formulate your thoughts. And they want to hear how you present yourself, especially in relation to the open job.

Your answer? It's not in a book. It should be customized to the job AND to you. And you can prepare for it beforehand so that it feels and sounds as real as you are. First, what are the 3-5 things that are MOST important to them in this job? Then, what are three success factors you have that relate to those desired traits? Success factors are what you've done before that makes you successful over and over again.

That means you won't launch into "I have 18 years of tech leadership experience and I'm seeking a company that will let me grow". That kind of answer says nothing real about you.

One way of answering is to recap the Summary section of your resume, if that's done properly. This touches on 3-4 overarching themes about you and your success over time.

Another way takes a different tack: "When I look at what you have defined as important for this position, I see several points of connection. Three of them are: my technical expertise, my skills in project management, and my people skills. Which of those would you like me to start with?"

This kind of response answers the question and it engages the questioner. And it narrows the question in the way YOU want.

Give either of these approaches a try and you'll quickly begin welcoming the question "Tell me about yourself", and you'll be making it work for you.


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