Saturday, 26 October 2013

Answering Interview Questions: Tell Me About Yourself

Tell Me About Yourself

A couple of months ago now, I ran jobseeker Interview Question training for a group of my clients, which left me on a natural high.

I started the training by requiring my fifteen member strong group to first answer the question, "Tell me about yourself". As suspected, these unemployed individual's almost all answered the question by mentioning their own interests, and making 'challenge-able' claims (such as I am honest and reliable).

Employers often ask this question first up when meeting a candidate (once everyone is settled into their seats) to initiate open communication and to get the interview under way.

Employers are professional entities and they are seeking to gain perspective about the candidate's professional background, not their personal one. But for many job seekers, upon hearing the above words, they tend to answer on a personal level with something like "Well, I'm [X] years old, and have three kids..."

You need to be mindful that every word you say can leave a positive, negative or neutral impression on the employer.  You don't want to accidentally give an employer any reason to discriminate against you; you want (and need) the employer to judge you completely on your ability to do the job, and have the interviewer come to the conclusion that you would be a good fit with the business.

So how should candidates be answering the question, 'Tell Me About Yourself?"

They should answer from a professional perspective, with something like, "I have 5 years experience as a [type of work]..." and the rest of the two to three sentences that the candidate says should include information such as duties performed which are related to the job on offer - to encourage the employer to want to know more about them and their suitability to the role.

Remember, every job seeker thinks they are able to do the job they are interviewing for; but employers need them to prove this to them -- not with claims but -- with examples of skills, knowledge and experience that leads the employer to believe the candidate is capable of doing the job for them.

After a half hour discussion on what the group thought was the right way to answer that questions, they went from "I'm [X] years old, have three kids and live in [name of suburb]..." to "I have 5 years experience as a [type of work]..." and mentioned the related skills and qualifications they gained or are the holder of that would be of interest to the employer. And they could hear how different it made them sound - that they were talking on a professional level, that they were talking about what they could do, that the other group members were interested. A few piped up, "I know an employer that is looking for someone to do that" - because they had voiced details that enabled others to help them.

And this is how you should answer the question too.

I was  so proud of that group of long term unemployed jobseekers; especially seeing as we had no computers for the entire day due to a system meltdown, and were given permission by management to leave early but instead chose to participate in this impromptu training session, and because they each all gained work within the next three months because they were finally learning to reduce the mistakes that had kept them from getting success.

It was so pleasing to witness the boost in their confidence, and motivation, that those job seekers gained just from understanding things from an employers perspective which allowed them to improve their tell me about yourself 'pitch'.

Stay motivated!

Char Mesan