You’ve been invited to interview. You’re ready. You look the part, have practiced your handshake, you turned up on time and so your interview starts. The first question you will inevitably be asked is: tell me about yourself. This isn’t so much a question, as a command, but it’s used for two reasons:
- As an icebreaker. Most people are happy talking about themselves.
- To get a sense of who you are. Afterall, your resume can only tell them so much.
The problem from a job magnets point of view is that the scope of the question is so wide, you can’t get a sense of what the interviewer is actually asking. But don’t read too much into the question. Remember, interviews are all about finding the right candidate for the job and it’s as much about whether they like you, as whether you can do the job.
So how should you answer? Well, to start of with, remember this is a JOB interview, so keep it work related. They are not asking for your life story, they are looking to find someone to fill the post. Think about what the job required and how you fit the post. If the job required x number of years experience working in marketing, then you could answer by telling them:
- tell them how many years you’ve worked in marketing
- what areas you specialise in for example social media marketing
- what your achievements were for example what the outcome of a marketing campaign that you lead was
- what your goals are in terms of your career in marketing and how the job you’ve applied for fits into that goal
So one way of answering the question could be:
Well, I have 8 years experience in marketing, with the last 2 years focusing on increasing the brand awareness of x company’s newest product. We developed a social media marketing campaign, with print advertising and a tv advert. This resulted in x number of sales in the first quarter, increasing by 50% in the second. I found that I really loved working in this area and the job that you advertised offers me the opportunity to develop these skills further, by working on larger campaigns as part of a specialist team
Another method that you can use, is the present-past-future method:
I’m currently working for x company as marketing assistant, having spent the last 8 years working in marketing…
Returning to work
If you’re a person returning to work, then tweak this technique, changing it to past-present-future:
I’ve 8 years experience working in marketing, however, in the last two years I’ve had to take time out of my career to focus on caring for children/parents/family member. Whilst I was working as a carer, I took the time to take a few courses to keep my skills up to date and I’m looking forward to returning to full-time work.
If this is your first job, then hopefully, you’ve completed some work experience or an internship as part of your course. In this case, the achievements will have been as part of the course, and you use the present (your course), past (your experience) and future.
Transitioning military personnel
If you’re in the military transitioning into civilian life, then remember to put your experience in terms that non-military people will understand. Again, go back to the job posting and use the language used in the post.
Remember, you don’t need to spend long answering this question, just a couple of minutes at most, but make sure that whoever interviews you has a better understanding of how you are the best fit for this job.
- The Wheel of interview preparedness
- Interview preparation: Researching the company
- Job magnet skills: 6 types of job interview you need to be aware of
- 8 Tips to help you prepare for a job interview
- Job magnet tools: 5 books that job magnets should read
- 5 Steps to interview success workbook
If you are looking to get a job, then why not try my 30 day challenge. It’s free to join and covers creating resumes tailored to the job posting, LinkedIn skills, networking and interview skills.
Take care for now