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  • This lesson covers the dreaded "tell me about yourself"

  • question.

  • You hate this question, all of my clients hate this question,

  • but it's a question that starts off 99% of job interviews.

  • I highly recommend spending some time on this question

  • because it's going can make a world of difference

  • to your interview performance and your results.

  • Let's get started.

  • Why does every interviewer ask this question?

  • Along with variations like walk me through your background,

  • tell me more about you, it sounds like a harmless way

  • to start a job interview.

  • It's very open-ended, not particularly difficult,

  • everybody should know a little something about themselves

  • that they can talk about, right?

  • From the interviewer's perspective,

  • it's an easy way to get the conversation going.

  • They just want to get you talking and dive

  • into the relevant information.

  • For the candidate, the dread comes from the fact

  • that question is so open-ended.

  • You could answer in so many different ways,

  • and people aren't quite sure what the best way is.

  • What does this person want to know about me?

  • They stumble, they falter, they talk too much

  • about ancient history, and that's a terrible way

  • to start an interview-- by fumbling around and sounding

  • confused, or worse, boring your interviewer.

  • Instead, I want you to embrace this question,

  • because answering this question well

  • is one of the most affective things you

  • can do in the entire interview.

  • It allows you to set the tone.

  • It gives you some power and autonomy in this interview

  • situation, where you may otherwise

  • feel nervous and at the mercy of your interviewer.

  • By starting strong, you make a great first impression

  • and shape the dialogue that comes next.

  • Take the time to prepare how you want to tell your story

  • and ensure you make a first impression that

  • leads to a job offer.

  • Here's how you should craft your "tell me about yourself"

  • response.

  • Think about it as an elevator pitch-- a focused overview

  • that's concise enough to deliver during an elevator ride.

  • Your elevator pitch as a job candidate

  • should include your top selling points for the position.

  • Your top selling points are going

  • to be a little bit different from job to job.

  • You want to give a little bit of your personality

  • and your interest in the opportunity

  • along with your selling points.

  • You want to sound natural and spontaneous while also

  • covering the points that you want to communicate to make

  • the best possible impression.

  • I'm going to teach you to outline a standard answer that

  • can also be customized for different opportunities.

  • I recommend a bullet point approach, not

  • a scripted approach.

  • Scripted answers tend to sound stiff and artificial.

  • Interviewers don't feel like they're

  • getting to know the real you.

  • Instead, I suggest that you outline the bullet points

  • that you want to cover and leave room for spontaneity

  • in terms of exactly how you deliver the points each time.

  • Then with a little practice, you'll

  • find that your answers will naturally

  • evolve as you get comfortable with what you want to say.

  • Once you know your key speaking points,

  • you'll have room to be flexible and deliver differently

  • in every single interview.

  • It's not unlike how a celebrity prepares with a publicist

  • before hitting the talk show circuit.

  • They want to sound genuine and likable,

  • so they don't script their remarks,

  • but they do have an idea of the topics they

  • want to cover-- promoting the new movie,

  • telling a funny story about their coworker,

  • you know how it goes.

  • So let's get started with outlining your elevator pitch.

  • We've got a great three-step formula for you.

  • Step one-- who you are.

  • The first key component is a confident, compelling statement

  • of who you are professionally.

  • The most common mistake I see is a candidate

  • starting this answer by going back

  • to the beginning of the resume and walking

  • through their experience chronologically

  • and often in way too much detail.

  • This approach is weak because it leads

  • with out-of-date and irrelevant information instead

  • of leading with what's most impressive about you right now.

  • For most candidates, this includes

  • a reference to their current position,

  • as well as an overview of the breadth and depth

  • of their related experience.

  • Let's take a look at a couple of examples

  • to give you a sense of what I'm talking about here.

  • So here's our first candidate.

  • Who are you? "Well, I'm a recent Columbia MBA

  • graduate with a strong background

  • in the pharmaceutical industry."

  • This puts the emphasis on that shiny new MBA

  • and the candidate's industry experience.

  • Here's another approach from a different candidate.

  • "I'm an experienced HR executive who

  • has managed all aspects of the HR function

  • from recruiting to training to benefits."

  • This is a nice big picture, high-level introduction

  • for someone who has a diverse skill set within the HR

  • function.

  • It concisely summarizes a diverse background.

  • Now let's look at a not-so-good example.

  • "Well, I grew up in Cincinnati.

  • As a child, I originally wanted to be a fireman,

  • then later became quite interested in dinosaurs.

  • I excelled in the sciences from early on,

  • placing first in my fourth grade science fair.

  • You know, funny story about that--"

  • OK, way TMI.

  • Sadly, the interviewer does not really care.

  • And I realize this is an exaggerated example,

  • but, trust me, I have heard a lot of people go the TMI route.

  • The idea here is to start strong and grab their attention

  • before getting into the details.

  • Tell them how you want them to see you.

  • Step two-- why you're qualified.

  • Step two is kind of like the meat

  • in the sandwich of your "tell me about yourself" answer.

  • The idea here is to plan in advance which details to share

  • that are most likely to knock the socks off

  • of this interviewer.

  • Remember, your interviewer doesn't

  • have endless amounts of time.

  • Focus on two to four, maybe five,

  • points that you'd like to make.

  • The goal is to keep it under two minutes

  • total, so think about it.

  • What are those two to four points?

  • There will be more time for detail

  • later, so focus on the biggest selling points-- the stuff

  • that you think-- if you were the interviewer-- would

  • make you perk up your ears and say, ah, this is interesting.

  • This could be a classic reverse chronological

  • overview of your last few positions

  • or it could be a list of key accomplishments tailored

  • to the job requirements.

  • So let's look at an example here of how

  • you might present that middle piece of the answer.

  • "I spent the last six years developing my skills

  • as a customer service manager for Megacompany, Inc,

  • where I won several performance awards

  • and I've been promoted twice.

  • I love managing teams and solving customer problems."

  • This is a very concise example, and yours can certainly

  • have a bit more detail.

  • Just keep in mind that the overall answer should

  • be no longer than two minutes.

  • What's good about this answer?

  • Well, the emphasis is on relevant experience, and not

  • just that, but proof of performance.

  • It's not a summary of job duties.

  • A lot of people make that mistake-- both on the resume

  • and in the interview.

  • When asked about what you did somewhere,

  • you're not just going to rattle off

  • the duties that any human would have done in the position.

  • You're going to focus on what you

  • did that was above and beyond-- accomplishments, competencies,

  • all of it tailored to what's relevant for the job

  • description.

  • Step three-- why you're here.

  • This is your chance to express enthusiasm

  • for the position in one, maybe two, sentences.

  • Keep it short and sweet here.

  • Here's an example of one way to do

  • this. "Although I love my current role,

  • I feel I'm now ready for a more challenging assignment,

  • and this position really excites me."

  • This is very general.

  • You could use it for a lot of different positions.

  • If you can make it a bit more specific for the job,

  • even better, but something along these lines will work well.

  • You'll have time to get into more detail

  • later-- to show that you researched

  • the company, to show why you're a great fit for the role.

  • The goal in this moment is to wrap up

  • your pitch in a concise, confident way

  • and show your enthusiasm.

  • Once you've got bullet points for each of the three steps,

  • it's time to put them all together

  • into a polished, powerful elevator pitch.

  • The key is to practice a bit and find your rhythm,

  • find your flow.

  • You can practice a time or two with your notes handy.

  • Then once you've internalized the general outline,

  • it's going to feel more natural, and your personality

  • is going to come through.

  • To give you an idea of how it can all come together,

  • I want to share an example answer.

  • Here's a candidate with their version of the answer

  • to "tell me about yourself."

  • "I have more than five years experience

  • as a technical project manager at top Wall Street companies.

  • Most recently, I helped develop an award-winning new trading

  • platform.

  • I'm a person who thrives in a fast-paced environment,

  • so right now, I'm looking for an opportunity

  • to apply my technology expertise,

  • along with my creative problem-solving skills,

  • at an innovative software company."

  • Your version will be even stronger, but more detailed,

  • tailored for the particular type of opportunity.

  • Now that you know what you need to do to ace this answer,

  • it's time to outline your own bullet

  • points for each of the three parts and start practicing.

  • Big Interview has more sample answers

  • and a fantastic practice tool to help

  • you make the best possible first impression with

  • "tell me about yourself."

This lesson covers the dreaded "tell me about yourself"

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B1 US TOEIC interviewer candidate answer elevator job

How to Answer: Tell Me About Yourself.

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    Emily posted on 2018/09/26
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