As an experienced hiring manager and Career Coach, I believe “Tell me about yourself?” is likely the most frequently asked question in the job search and interview process. Whether you are networking, interviewing, or merely sharing your background with another person who may take interest in you, it’s the one question that if you master the response to it, it will help you get closer to your dream job. Below are five tips to building and presenting a great response:
1. Know thy-self. Who are you? What’s your background? What do you want people to know about you professionally? What are really good at? What would others say about you? Do you have a skill or passion that others might appreciate or that could apply to your future? It’s important to take an inventory of your strengths, your skills, your past successes and your future dreams. Once you have done this, you will be better equipped to know what to tell others about yourself.
2. Understand the context of the question. Know your audience. Is the question being asked at a networking event, an interview, or perhaps in a social setting where you are looking to meet new people. Either way, having a framework to respond in each setting is valuable. However, no matter what setting you are in, it’s important to know that people aren’t asking you about your entire personal life and background, where you grew up, or how many siblings you have. They are seeking a high level intro about who you are as a person or professional. Think of it as your elevator pitch, not your life story. It should be well articulated and no longer than one to two minutes.
3. Build a framework for your summary statement.
Start with your name, give an overview of your background or experience, then drill down on a few strengths, qualities, or an accomplishment that you would like to share that makes you unique. Lastly, share something more personal about what you want or share something your passionate about. It is then advisable to ask the other person a question to keep the conversation or interview moving forward. Here’s an example:
Step 1: My name is _____________. As a VP of HR and now a Certified Professional Coach, I have spent my entire career working with high growth startup organizations in the field of Talent Acquisition and Human Resources where building infrastructure, implementing new systems, and developing people programs was essential to the success of the business..
Step 2: My expertise is helping organizations scale and develop their talent along with my deep operational background in all aspects of HR.
Step 3: I am especially passionate about working with businesses and individuals to help them develop and achieve success. I love helping others succeed!
Step 4: What else can I share with you? Or “What more would you like to know?”
4. Know that it is OK to “boast” about yourself.
Most of us have been raised not to brag about ourselves, although when networking and interviewing to find your ideal job, this is very acceptable time to share your story, your strengths, and what you are good at. So give yourself permission to talk about yourself in a positive way!
5. Communicate with Confidence. Once you have your summary statement down, try it on for size. Practice it, see how others respond to it, and tweak it as needed for the situation. It needs to feel good to you, because if it feels good to you, you will deliver it with greater confidence and energy. With that said, don’t over rehearse it because you want to sound natural and to be yourself.
Remember, the goal of a summary statement is for you to make a good first impression. Preparing in advance allows you to focus on the conversation and not what you think you will say. Most people don’t have a plan and are caught off guard in networking or interview situations when asked “Tell me about yourself”? It’s your choice, do you want to be caught off guard?
About the author
Theresa Strickland, has held numerous positions leading and building people processes for startup and high growth organizations throughout her career as an HR Executive, Business Owner, and Talent Acquisition Leader. Currently she is an advisor and coach to executive leaders and to those in a career transition. Learn more at www.stricklandhradvisory.com