job interview etiquette

This is a question that almost always stumps people in job interviews: “Tell me about yourself”. It’s often the first thing an interviewer will ask. 

But, even though it’s so common to hear it when interviewing for a job, it’s very challenging to answer and it can be hard to do so effectively. It’s so open, how do you know what to share, what is relevant, and what needs to be left out? 

Here are some tips for coming up with a strong response: 


Why do interviewers ask this? 

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the purpose of the question. The main reason interviewers ask this is simply as a conversation starter. It’s useful in getting to know you, and it can often lead to helpful follow-up discussions. 

It’s also used to test out your communication skills. This is why your answer is so important – a great reply demonstrates your abilities in talking to people professionally. 


What’s the best way to answer? 

There’s no set way to answer, as it should be unique to you and the job you’re applying for. But, there are lots of ways to approach it. 

For example, you could start by talking about your current role, including your key responsibilities and any big accomplishments you have made. 

You can also mention your work history and how it’s led you to this point. Or, you can talk about the future, like what you’re hoping to achieve next and why this role is a perfect fit for you. 

Ideally, you should incorporate elements from all of these aspects. Using the most important information, you can build a basic template, which can then be tweaked as you see fit. 


How to make your answer stand out 

We understand how tricky it can be to answer this question well. So, here are some tips to help you get started: 


1. Adapt your answer for the role 

Firstly, although it’s important to have a basic template, you should always tailor your response depending on the company and the role you’re interviewing for. 

Make sure it is relevant by researching the company and job description beforehand. This way, you can explain why you’re a suitable applicant. 

Additionally, doing this means you can figure out a way to tell your personal story in a way that aligns with the company values and culture, as well as the position itself. 


2. Always be professional 

Although the question itself is pretty open, it’s essential to remain professional and avoid sharing too much personal information. Although they are asking about you, you still need to stay relevant to the job and the company. 

Try and avoid talking about areas of your personal life like friends, family, or hobbies. The only exception to this rule is if, after researching the company, you think it would be beneficial. 


3. Keep it short 

If you’re nervous, it can be easy to start rambling. However, you need to keep it clear and concise! Equally, though, don’t speak too little as this can make you seem uninterested. 

Although there’s no set length for an answer, it’s best to keep it between 30 seconds and a minute long – and definitely no longer than two minutes. 

Also, we recommend reading the room as you’re speaking. If the interviewer looks bored, try to wrap up your answer as quickly as possible.


4. Practice your answer 

Another important thing to consider is practicing before the interview. You don’t want to make it appear too rehearsed, but you should memorize some key information so you don’t get stuck. 

If it helps you, you can try recording your answer and listening to it to get an idea of how it comes across. Or, you can practice with a friend or family member to get feedback.


5. Be positive and passionate

Lastly, remember that first impressions count. As this is often the first question in an interview, make sure you are as positive and passionate as possible! 

If you have specific reasons for leaving your current position, or if you have any concerns or weaknesses, wait until a question about this comes up before you mention them. 

Show you’re excited when explaining why you want to get involved with the company. Doing this can help you stand out from the other candidates and be more memorable.

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