Job Interview Answers & the
Best Strategy for Answering the
"Tell Me About Yourself" Question
Use the job interview answers and these strategies in this article, written by Career Coach Expert Howard Cattie, Jr., to answer one of the most common questions in a job interview, yet most commonly fumbled, "Tell me about yourself?”
Let me show you how to make it easy for you to answer and ensure that you start out strong! First, you must realize that this question is often asked first because the manager hasn't really reviewed the resume in a lot of detail. So while they are catching up, they throw a pop quiz by asking you “tell me about yourself”.
This question is an open-ended question and the answer is a free form essay which can easily lead to all kinds of perilous responses. Yet it is also a huge advantage. You have a gift---an opportunity of stating 2 or 3 of your strongest points and then controlling where the conversation goes next with a question at the end.
Your answer demonstrates your ability to communicate on your feet
when you're thrown a question, your ability to focus, and your ability
to clarify your personal interest and agenda.
Job Interview Answers and Tips for Getting the Advantage
This best job interview answers for this common job
interview question should be answered similar to an “elevator pitch” by sharing a clear, bullet-ed and relevant to the
opportunity response. It should be easy to understand and should not generate
more questions than answers.
The best job interview answers to this question are less than 2 minutes long.
the key to handling this question in the interview is to prepare the
answer before the interview. The manager really doesn't want to hear
about your life history, what you're interested in, a long boring
sequence of your jobs, or any ego trips.
An absolute disaster is
occurs if instead of answering the question, you respond with hesitancy
or confusion and ask “what would you like to hear?”What they really
want to hear is a focused summary of relevant bullets that can benefit them and may help them solve a problem.
QUESTION: How do you structure your job interview answers to the "Tell Me About Yourself" question?
BOTTOM LINE ANSWER: Use 5 sentences max and a steering question.
- If you prepare properly for the job interview, you’ve identified
keywords for products, industries, technologies, tasks and titles can
easily be used to create bullets in this summary.
The first 3 sentences
can list some of these keywords and expand them with length of
experience (years) or with breadth of experience (for tasks or
Then add some results and these keywords have now become
“bullet-ed” accomplishments. Do not try to cover the entire job
Focus on the 3 major strengths you feel you bring to the job based on the keywords.
- Sentences 4 and 5 should be
oriented toward benefits to the manager and areas of possible mutual
interest (complementing agendas) which are to be explored in today's
For example, some of the biggest benefits you can bring to a
company and to a manager are:
• fast start in terms of proven expertise
• an independent worker which requires less management time
• someone who can take on more responsibilities over time
• someone who can solve the immediate problem
• someone that would help the manager achieve their personal agenda
• someone who is low risk or high results
- Then you end with the appropriate steering question to move the job interview towards your preferred direction.
Sample Job Interview Answers Using This Strategy...
Here is an example for an IT professional opening:
- Sample sentences 1-3: Use Keywords - Focus on Your Three Major Strenghts
Manager, I've had 20 years of technical background in information
technology, a BS in computer science with increasing responsibilities
from developer, project leader and also a pre-sales consultant."
strongest expertise is in the Microsoft technologies including .net
development, SQLserver data base and Business Intelligence where I have
performed all tasks associated with defining, developing and
implementing custom Business applications for the Financial Services
"I've received increasing compensation and responsibilities
in the 4 companies I have been with because I completed my projects in a
timely and reliable manner. My performance ratings were always
- Sample sentences 4-5: Focus on Benefits to the Hiring Manager/Interviewer
"My personal goals at this point
are to find a company where I can build upon this technical background
and bring this expertise to help solve additional problems as well as
add some new experiences."
"Since I've targeted your particular
company (or When I read your ad) , it appears my background will allow
me to contribute quickly, get off to a fast start and take on some
responsibility to help the department accomplish its goals."
- Sample Steering Question: Goal - ask a question to move the discussion in your favor.
look forward to sharing additional relevant experience with you today
but before we start, could you give me some feeling for where you see
this role within the department’s goals?"
The key to giving great job interview answers for this
simple, yet treacherous interview question is to be prepared ahead of
time. Pick 3 points and your steering question. Structure a very
simple 4-5 sentence summary of what you bring to the table that is clear
and relevant to the manager and the opportunity at hand.
Do not stray
into other events. Do not cover the job description in detail.
Remember, it is a summary. The manager will get to the detail he needs,
rest assured. Good luck and good interviewing.
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