As with any new experience that requires skill you learn from experience and improve the more you practice and apply the techniques you learned. Learning how to interview during an actual job interview could be a costly way to learn. Preparation before the interview will make a difference and help you feel more confident – and less nervous.
First of all, you should know that almost everyone gets nervous before a job interview. Give yourself permission to be nervous. Next, begin to think about what you have to offer a company; even if you don’t have much in the way of work experience.
Below are sample answers to one of the most difficult questions asked in an interview. Even seasoned interviewers struggle to answer this question. How would you answer the question?
Question: “Tell Me About Yourself .”
Answer #1. “Overall, I think I am very well rounded. I have many interests including music, film, sports, current events and politics. I have played sports in high school and college and consider myself to be a team player. I think something that makes me unique from other candidates is that I am very entrepreneurial. I’ve been investing in the stock market since I was 15 and have started my own businesses in high school.”
For the most part this answer is ok, but very general. Failing to give specifics you are betting on the fact that your resume was not only read – but studied. Often times an interviewer will skim the resume, so it is a good idea to offer some background information. There are some interesting facts in this answer but it needs more structure and detail.
Answer #2. “ I graduated last year with a degree in science. I have maintained a 4.0 in my major and have been on the Dean’s List First Honors three times. I know several computer programs and languages including SQL, Java, Visual Basic, I have worked part-time while going to school as a tutor to students during the school year. Some of my projects while in college were computing analytical and conceptual problems using Excel and forecasting data with SPSS for Applied Statistical Methods.”
While this answer offers a great deal of information about you and your education but is basically the answer to the question: “Walk me through your resume.” You may be asked that question in an interview, but it is not the same answer you would provide if asked: “Tell me about yourself.” This answer focuses primarily on your knowledge-based skills with very little information about your traits or personal qualities. A stronger answer would offer a more comprehensive picture of who you are as a person as well as a student.
Answer #3. “ To begin, I am in the process of finishing my BA in Finance – that I will complete in December. I have worked with computers since I was young and am able to take a problem and work through a solution using a combination of technology and analytical thinking. I have a high work ethic and you could even call me “hungry” when it comes to work. I will do whatever it takes to get the job done – including staying up until 5 and 6am. I am very physically fit and use my work out time to solve problems that I am stuck on.”
This answer is the best answer because it answers the question “Tell me about yourself” and offers a broad picture of you as a person. It includes skills and traits and hopefully entices the interviewer to want to know more. It is a good point to talk about your work ethic and your attitude toward hard work.
There are no “right” or “wrong” answers, but some answers will be stronger than others and leave more of a lasting impression. By preparing ahead you will be able to talk about yourself and what you have to offer even though you may feel like you don’t have much experience to offer.
Carole Martin – www.interviewcoach.com
These answers and many more can be found in the book, “Boost Your Interview IQ, Second Edition” (2012) Mc-Graw-Hill publication. Carole Martin, author.