Tell Us About Yourself - What is The Best Job Interview Answer?
How often do you get asked a question in a job interview - could you tell us about yourself? - or - let's get to know each other better, we will tell about us, and you about yourself? I am sure that this question is asked at every interview, regardless of what position you get and in what area you work.
We have already written articles on how to answer the question about salary expectations (link), so this post can be considered a continuation of this big topic. In order not to be unfounded, I will say that I went through about 100 interviews in my life and devoted an entire article to the conclusions and experience gained from these interviews. I also recommend checking it out at the link.
Make a Plan
Yes, to talk about your life, about your experience, education and hobbies, I recommend making a story plan. In interviews, a lot of people get nervous and do things that they normally don't. You can be an eloquent public speaker, but one unexpected question can be the one that makes you nervous.
It's normal to be nervous, and it's not about the nerves. The fact is that nerves will interfere with your further narration - you will interrupt your thought and be sure to forget about something to tell, or the story about yourself will not be consistent. For example, you first tell about your work experience, and only then about education.
Tell Me About It - The Simpsons Meme
I am not an HR specialist, but I participated in the selection of candidates as a member of the team where employees were hired, and I am ready to assure you that absolutely everyone is nervous and absolutely everyone has a moment in the story after which the narrative collapses - dates are confused, facts that are not correspond to the information from the resume and so on.
So plan your story. It is not necessary to prescribe everything in its entirety and write an autobiography of 500 pages. It is enough to make a plan of what you want to tell about yourself. 5 points will be enough - education, work experience, personal projects, hobbies and additional courses / certificates on personal initiative and personal interests. Describe in more detail what you studied, why you liked or disliked it, tell us about what you worked on yourself.
Having a clear plan in front of your eyes, unexpected questions from an HR specialist will not confuse you, and you will resume your story just by looking at the plan. I understand that this may sound silly - a plan for a story about yourself. But since I participated in the selection of candidates, I am ready to assure you that it is precisely this planning and organization that is often lacking for those who apply for a position.
This is the maximum nonsense. If someone tells you - don't worry, it's just an interview - don't listen to this person. Firstly, such words cannot make you feel better, and secondly, you will be nervous in any case, no matter how self-confident you are. It is normal to be nervous, but the more prepared you are for this interview, the less nervous you will be. That is why preparation is important.
The story about yourself should not take more than 5 minutes. Anything more than 5 minutes is extra information that is not interesting even for your mother, let alone an HR specialist. Try to keep within these limits and not go beyond them. Since I have participated in more than 100 interviews, I would like to come up with an ideal formula for you on what they want to hear from you in an interview. So, let's imagine that I start your interview and ask you - let's get to know each other, tell us about yourself. Here is what I would like to hear from you:
📌 Education (what did you study; did you have enough knowledge gained in college and was there a desire to take additional courses or lessons; if it was possible to turn back time, would you study the same thing or choose another area; what would you like to devote more study time to, and what is less).
📌 Work experience (what specifically did you do, not the company, not the team, namely you; what did you learn at your previous job; what does the company do; tell us the top 3 tasks that you most often had to solve and who participated in solving problems, with which teams you interacted and how). You should not talk about why you left your previous job, only if they ask - keep silent about it yourself.
📌 Personal projects. My favorite part. (what did you do on your own, in your free time from study and work; what results did you achieve; what are your ambitions regarding your personal projects; show and tell about the results; tell about who you worked with on this project, even if you worked alone - at least say that you developed it with a classmate - it is very important to show interaction with other experts at the interview).
📌 Additional education (tell us about the courses that you took additionally to immerse yourself in the field of activity; tell us about the area you tried yourself in - why did you like this area and why not; tell us where you prefer to study, which online platform or at which university and why exactly there; tell us about the value of self-education for you and why it is important for you to constantly learn something).
📌 Hobbies (Do not talk about knitting or painting - try to get as close as possible to the field of activity where you get a job. If this is a vacancy for an SEO specialist, tell us about your hobby of developing websites, if it is a data analyst, then tell us about your account on Kaggle, if it is a technical one Documentation Writer, then tell us about the foreign languages you are learning or want to learn. In a word, be closer to the position you are applying for).
I spoke to HR people I know and worked with in the past on this plan, so feel free to use this plan in your interviews. After answering all the questions in the plan and talking about all the points, it will just take you about 5 minutes to tell about yourself, which is the ideal time to answer such a question.
Why is it Important
It may seem to someone that it does not matter at all that this is a very simple answer and clearly does not require a whole article and such attention. I disagree. The fact is that the question of a story about yourself is one of the very first, and as we know, the first impression is very important. If you show yourself as an organized person who has a story plan, who speaks in a structured and consistent way, but the attitude towards you will be completely different, more professional, and you will already differ positively from the competitors.
I assure you that after the candidate answers this question, the employer already has a preliminary answer regarding your candidacy. The employer is already ready to either refuse or hire you in advance, just does not do it out of courtesy to you and your time spent on the test tasks, so he asks subsequent questions automatically, without fixing the answer.
Take this question seriously. This is your business card in the form of a story, this is your ability to prepare for a test and prove yourself as an organized person who is ready for everything in advance and who has everything calculated. Moreover, the answer to this question is also important for you - because how you start your interview is how you continue it. If you mumble, you will mumble your entire interview, and if you answer clearly and according to plan, then you will loosen up, all your nerves will go away, and the interview will turn into a friendly conversation. Believe me, I've been through a hundred interviews, I know what I'm talking about.
It was important for me to show you why the request to tell about yourself is not the curiosity of the employer, but the desire to listen to you and see how you act in stressful situations, that you know how to communicate with people and how you highlight key information. After all, in fact, everything that you say when answering this question can be read in your resume. Do you really think that no one reads it before an interview?
Prepare yourself to answer this question, show yourself as an organized person who prepares for an interview in the same way as an HR specialist. Good luck with your interview!