You submitted the resume and you waited and you waited patiently and finally, you got that phone call, and now you got the interview.
You’re sitting across the table and the hiring manager smiles and asks you the question – Tell me about yourself.
And you panic. And you don’t know what to do. You don’t know what to say. You start to stutter. And halfway through the conversation, you say to yourself, “Ugh! I blew it! Why did I even say that?!”
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Usually, that hiring manager makes up his or her mind in the first three minutes of the interview.
Do you make a good impression? So today I’m going to share with you from a CEO’s perspective, from a hiring manager’s perspective, from an employer’s perspective, what is the best response to the question “tell me about yourself.”
I’m going to teach it to you, and by the end of this post, you’re going to walk away with the exact formula of exactly what you need to say and how to say it.
I’m also going to give you a little script, and a little template, so that next time when you are asked this question you know exactly what to say.
Interview Question – Tell me Something about Yourself
#1 Show Value, not your life story
When the hiring manager is asking you the question “tell me about yourself” they are not actually asking about your whole life story.
They’re not asking about your parents, your background, your dog’s name, and what kind of cat you have.
It is not about that.
So when people hear that question, they think, “Oh, let me tell you my life story!” and twenty minutes into it, you have not talked about anything important.
So, what they’re actually asking is what are you bringing to the table? So from now on, when you hear the question, “tell me about yourself” I want you to make the mental switch. That equals what value could you bring to the company.
What problems can you solve for the company? That’s what they are asking.
And you shouldn’t go on and on and on about all your background and all of that.
No. Don’t do that.
#2 Be yourself but be your best self
See, one of the mistakes people make here is they believe in the interview, “well, I just want to be myself”. Yes, you want to be yourself, but you want to be your best self.
You want to be authentic, you don’t want to be fake. But it doesn’t mean that you just share everything.
This is the first time you just sitting across the table from a hiring manager, it’s like a date.
You’re just getting to know each other. This is like a coffee date.
So make sure that you present your best self. Lead with your strong foot forward.
So when they are asking you the question, everything you share, any statement that you make, you always want to tie it back to what’s in it for them.
W-I-I-F-M. What’s in it for them?
So let me give you an example. Let’s say someone is hiring and you’re applying for a social media manager position.
And the hiring manager is asking you, “well, so tell me about yourself.”
A typical response, someone might say, “well, you know, I um, I grew up with social media and, um, I’ve used social media for a long long time my whole life actually.
So I’m very familiar with it. And just about three years ago, I thought to myself well, maybe I could actually make a living doing this.
So I started playing around with it, and, um, take on a couple of clients here and there and I’ve worked with a couple of people, uh, and then, now, you know, I’m planning to get married and my fiancé told me, you know, I should get a stable job.
So here I am, and, I’m looking for a company that offers good growth potential, and good growth opportunities.
And this place is not too far from my home. It’s good, it’s only a ten-minute drive.”
Do you see the problem?
Like this, all me. It’s all about that person, what they need, and all of that stuff. Bad idea.
Now, how do you feel if you are the hiring manager when you ask that question if that’s the answer that you get?
So, instead of rambling on about that, about my background and all this stuff, what I want, no.
If you turn it into a benefit, what’s in it for them, what’s in it for the hiring manager?
What could you say? I’m going to give you a simple formula.
Now here’s a script that you could use.
“I have been blank”. Or, “my background is blank”.
So, let me demonstrate.
Let’s say it’s the same position, social media manager, that you’re applying for.
First, success. I have been doing social media for the last three years and I specialize in helping companies and entrepreneurs grow their Facebook fan pages.
And in the last three years alone I have helped dozens of clients in over ten different industries.
And on average I’ve been able to help my clients to really increase their engagement and grow their fan page by three to five hundred percent in less than six months. And that’s what I am passionate about.
In fact, I have listed some of those clients that I’ve worked with on the reference letter.
Do you see how that works? You’re talking about your success but without bragging.
It’s more to demonstrate and showcase your skillset. What are you good at?
That’s that number one, success. And then, step number two is strength.
And here’s the script. “My strength is blank” or “my real strength is blank”
My real strength is my ability to truly understand what your audience wants. I pride myself on my reputation for creating engaging and compelling content that I know your audience loves and wants to share.
That’s the second step. My strength is blank.
Meaning, how does that apply to the position that you’re applying for?
How do you apply your background, and your strength to the new company, the new opportunity?
The situation, “what I am looking for is blank”.
What I’m looking for is a company where I could add value, and where I could produce a positive return on investment. Where I could join a strong team.
Is this what ABC company is looking for? Do you see? In the end, you ask a question.
Whoever asks a question controls the conversation. So you want to ask a question. And now the hiring manager will be like “okay, yeah, I guess that’s what I’m looking for”, or “no that’s not what we’re looking for”.
And you got from there. Just because you are in an interview it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to sell.
The next question you might have is well, Shitanshu, does that mean that I have to memorize a script of some sort?
And the answer is an absolute yes. You don’t want to go in unprepared.
In fact, you want to write it out, practice it, and rehearse it many many times.
So when you are in front of that potential hiring manager, you are ready to go.
You need to memorize it and say it many many times and repeat it many many times so it comes across as very very natural.
The last thing you want is to panic and stutter and you don’t know what to say.
You do not want to do that.
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