Introduction: tell me about yourself!
Many of us remember sitting in the classroom as children on the first day of school. The thought of meeting new classmates and finding out if your new teacher was nice created a sense of excitement and anticipation. However, the excitement soon wore off when the teacher walked in, sat down and suddenly asked everyone to stand up and say a few words to introduce themselves to the rest of the class!
Just like in the classroom, many job applicants face a similar situation when they go into an interview room. The statement, “tell me about yourself”, is one that drives fear into the hearts of many of us. Do we talk about our CV? Do we talk about our interests? Or, do we talk about our future goals and aspirations?
There are a few key things to remember when you are faced with this situation:
Think of it like a trailer at the cinema
When faced with the question “tell me about yourself”, make sure you keep it interesting and relevant; what you say should be a snapshot of the main feature. If the trailer for a film you really want to see is boring or irrelevant, you’re going to move onto the next option swiftly. In the same vein, your interviewer will be looking for someone who can present themselves in an interesting light.
The trick is: leave the interviewer wanting more. Say enough to give an insight into who you are but not so much that the person gets bored.
Focus on your key selling points
The thing to remember is: focus on experiences and skills that demonstrate that you are the right fit for the job. Many people are tempted to just reel off a history of their academic and professional background. However, the key is to intelligently summarise the main features of your CV and give solid examples of your main achievements.
For example: “whilst I was working at x, I was responsible for bringing in a new, multi-national client in my first year and this increased the department’s billings by nearly £250,000. I was subsequently promoted to Senior Associate by the Partner in charge of our department…”
Talk about how you can help them
Job applicants often forget that the question “tell me about yourself” is not designed to gather lots of information about a candidate’s personal life but more about finding the right professional for the job.
The interviewer is looking for someone who is going to be an asset to the company and who is going to fit in well with the team. A great way to show what you can bring to the table is by checking what the company’s strategic objectives for the future are and how your skills can help the company to meet its goals.
Have a set format
One of the worst things to do when asked to “tell me about yourself” is to talk too much; this usually happens when we are nervous or haven’t prepared enough. There are certain interview questions that are more likely than not to come up and being asked to talk about yourself is one of them so it is important to prepare.
A good way to approach the question is to use the present, past and future system. What this means is that you should start off by talking about what you are currently doing, talk about some past achievements and then talk about the future.
For example: “I am currently working as a Senior Associate in the Corporate Department and I was recently promoted to this position following my performance review. I first joined the firm in 2007 as a trainee solicitor following my graduation from the University of London….I am now keen to join a firm where I will be able to focus on becoming a Partner.”
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