The first thing you will usually be asked in a job interview is “So, tell us a bit about yourself”. This is usually combined with “…and why you want this job” or “…and why you think you are a good fit for this job”.
Your answers to these initial questions are crucial. This will set the tone for the rest of the interview, so you need to answer them succinctly and confidently.
When I do interview coaching with clients, we usually spend a large portion of the session workshopping and practicing the answers to these initial questions. It takes time to get right. So don’t try to wing it!
So, how should you approach “Tell us about yourself”?
- Remember that the panel may not have read your resume in great detail, so don’t assume they know anything about you.
- Use your resume’s professional profile and key skills sections to help you plan your answer.
- Don’t talk about your personal life – this is about the work ‘you’!
- Start with “I am a [insert job title] and with X years’ experience in [sector/area/specialisation].
- Next move on to a high level summary of your current role, then briefly describe your previous roles.
- Highlight your key skills, perhaps by linking it to your current role and then saying how this would make you perfect for this role. [eg. In my current role the main focus is on team leadership and service improvement. I’m good at really engaging my team and making sure they are always looking for better ways to do things. I think this would make me a good fit for this role, as it seems that is the key component of this role.”
- Once you have planned out your key points, practice your answer/s over and over again. You can record yourself on your computer or phone to see how you sound.
- Remember, you need to sell yourself! Don’t downplay anything. Deliver your answers with confidence.