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Job Interview Answers & the
Best Strategy for Answering the
"Tell Me About Yourself" Question

Use this strategy and our sample job interview answers to the most common questions that candidates mess up.  How to interview like a pro and win the job!

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.

So 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.

In this best advice for job interviews article job search expert shares one little known tip - use it and you will interview like a pro and win!

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 titles).  

    Then add some results and these keywords  have now become “bullet-ed”  accomplishments.  Do not try to cover the entire job description. 

    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 meeting. 

    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

    "Mr. 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."

    "My 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 industry."

    "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 strong." 
  • 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.

    "I 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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In this best advice for job interviews article job search expert shares one little known tip - use it and you will interview like a pro and win!

Get more Career Transition, Resume and How to Interview Like a Pro tips, insight and support. Simply complete the contact form ,and Career Coach Expert Howard Cattie, Jr. will get back with you to schedule a complimentary, no obligation coaching call by phone. 

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