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No matter what role you're going for we guarantee you'll be asked this question in an interview. Aimee will uncover what they are actually looking for in an answer and how you can control the situation.
Hi guys, it’s Aimee Bateman here. I’m a careers coach, recruiter and the founder of Careercake and in this video I’m going to talk to you about how to answer the very common interview question, tell me about yourself.
Now this probably is the most common interview question. Any interview you can think about; they are going to start with this question. It absolutely amazes me that this is the question that people rarely prepare for. We prepare our strengths and we prepare our weaknesses, and where do you want to be in five years’ time and we don’t prepare this question. But, this is such an important question because it’s the first question that you’ll often be asked. First impressions count and all that kind of stuff and when you give them this answer, you really set the tone for the rest of the interview.
So firstly before we answer any interview question, we don’t think, what did they ask me? We think, why did they ask me that? That’s real listening. Not just hearing what has been asked, understanding why it’s being asked.
Put yourself in their shoes. You’re meeting this stranger, you’ve never met them before. They are potentially coming into your team. What’s the first thing, above everything else. All the skills, the experience. What ultimately is going to matter to you firstly?
Well, you are going to be thinking, are they motivated by the same things I’m motivated by? Am I going to like working with them? Am I going to get on with them? Are they going to get on with the team I’ve already got in place, because Janet is finance is awesome, but she is also hard work? If they have a bad day on Monday, are they going to show up for work on Tuesday? Can I trust them? All of these things are behind this question. Please don’t underestimate this as a little ice breaker. It’s so much more than that. If you answer this properly, this job could be yours. Definitely.
So, we want to make sure we do a few things. One, we don’t want to bat it back to them. We don’t want to throw back, what do you mean? Personally or professionally? No, I want to know who you are. Professionally, personally? Are you two different people? Don’t bat it back, own it. If you show you are not prepared for this answer, you may not be prepared for my job so own it. You know who you are. Smile and own it.
Then I don’t want you to talk for fifteen to twenty minutes about where you went to school, where you went to college, where you live. People who talk for fifteen to twenty minutes around this question are the people who aren’t prepared and you don’t want to bore them to death. You have to think, what do they want to know? And it goes back to all of the things we’ve just said. Don’t just regurgitate your CV or your application form. They’ve already done that. They can already see that. So I want you to think, what do they really want to know and it comes back to the ‘will I enjoy working with you’. We can talk about your experience and stuff later. Right now I want to know, are you going to go into battle with me everyday for whatever, eight hours, ten hours, and are we going to get on. Can I trust you and are we motivated b the same things?
So start this by telling them, who you are.
‘My entire career to date has been driven by my passion for helping businesses communicate themselves’. Or, ‘My values are …’. ‘My motivators are…’. Start by telling them what drive you. So talk about your motivators, your values and that is going to be different for everybody.
You really need to understand wo you are. Your level of self awareness will be your greatest tool throughout your entire career. You know where you die a death, you know what you love, you know where you thrive. All this kind of stuff will just instantly help build trust throughout this interview process. You’re showing them that this product you are trying to sell them, you know. You know about yourself and your self awareness is through the roof and that’s all good stuff for this interviewer.
So yeah, tell them what motivates you, what you are excited by and then I want you to talk about, maybe, some of your achievements. So some of the things you are really, really proud of. ‘To date I’m really proud that I have spent 15 years as a manager and have recently won an ILM award’. Or something like that, just some little hooks. Just drop some little achievements in there, things you have been really proud of along the way. Where you have made a real impact. A bit of Jedi mind tricks here. This is not you answering a full blown interview questions, but these are little hooks. I call them tasters that they can come back to later on but they may think ‘Ok’. Then I want you to tell them a little bit about why you are excited about this industry and this job, the purpose of this role. So maybe it’s helping them restructure some stuff. You either help companies make money or save money. Serve their customers or employees. Whichever one of those it is, you need to talk about why that excites you.
Then you just need to finish of by saying, ‘which is why I’m really excited to be sat here today and have this opportunity’. And that’s it. It’s not a set answer for everyone, but if you can follow those stages and keep it within a three to five minute, you will win, OK. You can sort out all your other answers, but this is a wonderful way to set the tone for this interview.
Remember you are interviewing them too, so get your questions ready for them too. Alright, so hopefully that helps. Don’t bat it back. Own it. Show them who you are, your values, your motivators, your achievements and why you are excited to be sat here, right now.
Dave Hancock – 13 October 2018
Useful tips and advice for a typical interview opener.