Why “Tell Me About Yourself” Is the Most Important Question for Both Interviewers & Applicants
You’ve applied for a position at a reputable company, which pays well and has amazing employee benefits. Lucky you are invited to the company for a job interview. During the interview, everything is going well until the interviewer asks the dreaded ‘tell me about yourself’ question. You start to stammer. Tension starts to build and, in the end, you lose the only shot you had at getting your dream job.
To prevent you from experiencing the weight of the job interview and the ‘tell me about yourself’ question, this article has supplied some ‘tell me about yourself’ answers that the interviewer is expecting from you.
The Toughest Question
When you are with your friends, talking about yourself is the easiest thing to do. No one knows you better than you. However, most interviewers will agree that a majority of applicants fail to give a good answer to the question ‘tell me about yourself’ during a job interview. This is the toughest and most stressful question in an interview.
Relax and Feel Comfortable
Honestly, I have been to several job interviews and as soon as this dreaded question pops up, these three questions start to mount inside my brain:
- What is he/she looking for in my answer?
- Why is he/she asking this?
- What is the best strategy for giving him/her what he/she wants?
These three questions will definitely increase the level of stress in your brain. When you start becoming uncomfortable, the interviewer will sense it and this means only one thing…bye, bye job offer.
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Why do They do It?
It’s not that hiring managers or job interviewers have a boring life and that they enjoy seeing applicants fail. There are two main reasons why interviewers ask this question:
- They want to understand what you see as important.
- They want to see how you react when a question is asked that requires you to think and be interesting.
How Should You Answer Challenging Interview Questions?
A challenging interview question is the one that is meant to throw you off your game. No more memorized answers. Any good interview candidate prepares well before going for an interview. Such a candidate will run through hundreds of practice interview questions and refines the answers up to the point where they are perfect, precise and tailored. Unfortunately, interviewers know this and this is why they use questions such as ‘tell me about yourself’.
But why would hiring managers want to throw you off your game? It is very likely that the position they are hiring for needs an employee, who has the ability to think and adapt on the fly. Someone who is able to make decisions and think on his/her feet.
Also, by leaving the question open ended, the interviewer wants to get a sense of whether or not you really understand which skills, abilities and experiences are relevant to the position you are applying for. If you focus on the things that the company puts a lot of value in, you’ll pass the test.
Common Mistakes Made When Answering ‘Tell Me About Yourself’
Regurgitating what’s already in your resume and cover letter. ‘Tell me about yourself’ is not an invitation for you to just list your past accomplishments. It’s okay to highlight the moments in your past that were successful but the secret lies at highlighting accomplishments that are most relevant to that specific position.
Telling Your Life Story
Most people make this mistake because it’s the easiest way to answer this question. Sharing your personality with others is great but save it for after you get the job.
Responding With ‘What Do You Want To Know?’
Such an answer tells the interviewer that you were unprepared for a challenging question. It sounds defensive. You will automatically lose the job.
Keeping The Answer Short
When asked the ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ question, keep the answer short. Don’t go for more than 90 seconds. There are more questions coming down the pipe that will allow you to elaborate on your skills, accomplishments and experiences. As mentioned earlier, the interviewer wants to see how fast you can think when faced with a challenge. The biggest mistake that most applicants make is stalling, fumbling and pausing at the onset of their answer. This demonstrates a lack of self-esteem and self-awareness. In most cases, the interviewer cares less about how you describe yourself and more about the passion, confidence and enthusiasm with which you answer it. Be honest, smile, take your time, be positive, be creative. Say something that doesn’t sound like a cliché. This is your future boss. He just wants to get to know you a bit.