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“Tell Me About Yourself”: What Does This Really Mean?

October 5th, 2012

There are a few common interview questions that aren’t just common…they’re nearly universal, across every industry at every career level. These questions typically begin the conversation, and the way you decide to answer can set the tone for the rest of the session. So when a hiring manager opens an interview by asking you to talk freely about yourself and your background, how should you respond?

Think About Your Overarching Goals

What are you here to accomplish? Of course you want this hiring manager to see you as a valuable asset to the company, but what specific skills and character traits can you offer that will leave an impression beyond the obvious? What can you say about yourself that other candidates might not be able to say? For example:

1. Have you accomplished anything specific and important during your career that other candidates probably haven’t?

2. Have you experienced a mid-life career change? If so, what made you decide to leave the previous field and what attracted you to this one?

3. Have there been some unique and defining events in your life that sparked your passion for this type of work?

Your answers to the questions above will help your interviewer gain a better sense of who you are as person and what you’re specifically looking for as you shape the direction of your career. As she listens, she can think about the information you’re providing and how it fits into the complex needs of the company and the straightforward demands of this particular position.

Showcase Your Personality

The introductory question of your interview gives you an opportunity to highlight the most important aspects of your candidacy that you’d like the interviewer to remember. But it also allows you to put your personality on display and let the interviewer draw conclusions about what it might be like to work with you every day.

If you want her to see your friendly side, now is your chance. If you want to come off as business-focused, analytical, and serious, she’ll be watching and taking notes. If you don’t know exactly what she’s looking for and what kind of person she wants to see, it’s in your best interest to simply be yourself…but the best side of yourself. No matter what you decide to share, keep it positive, stay engaged and energetic, and stay focused on the professional (rather than the personal) side of your life story.

For specific guidance, mock interview sessions, and additional practice questions, reach out to your local staffing company and job search experts at Merritt Staffing Agency in Connecticut. We can help you start your interview off on the right note.

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