Of all the interview questions that job candidates face, one of the most common is the classic, “tell me about yourself.” While at first glance, this question seems simple enough, but many people get tripped up and set the wrong tone by not giving a solid answer. Below are some tips for preparing an elevator pitch that will impress your interviewer and set the right tone.
Know What an Interviewer Wants to Hear
Because the question, “tell me about yourself” is so broad, you want to be selective about the information you cover. Generally speaking, an interviewer isn’t looking for a long-winded answer about your entire life history – they just want to know about relevant information that will let them know whether or not you’re qualified and will be a good fit for their company.
To ensure that you make a positive impression, you want to accomplish the following:
- Make them want to continue the interview and learn more about you (i.e., be professional, polite, interesting and likable)
- Let them know that you’re qualified for the position
- Let them know that you are a good fit and will mesh with their company culture
Perform Some Initial Research
In order to tell an interviewer what they want to know, you need to do your homework, because every position is different. Thoroughly go over the job description to see which specific tasks you would be responsible for. What type of educational background are they looking for? Finally, research the company to determine what their culture is like and what their values and philosophy are.
Formulate a Response
Once you’ve done your research, use that information to formulate a solid response. For example:
- Highlight previous job experience that overlaps with the position you’re applying for
- Discuss how your educational background meets the requirements they’re looking for
- Mention relevant accomplishments that make you a great candidate for the job
- Talk about aspects of your personality, philosophy and working style that mesh well with their company culture
You may also want to throw in some personal interests or hobbies if they’re relevant to the job or would be of interest to your interviewer. For example, if you’re applying for an IT position, mention that you enjoy doing programming and Web design as a hobby.
The Bottom Line
It all boils down to connecting the dots for an interviewer and providing them with relevant information that’s applicable to the job you’re applying for. Don’t go overboard and mention every single applicable point – condense it all down and briefly cover the main points that demonstrate why you are a good fit.