Career Services is buzzing with recruiters conducting on campus interviews for jobs/internships and advisors assisting students with mock interviews for preparation. After helping seven students with mock interviews this week, one answer seemed to need the most attention: “Tell me about yourself.”
While many interviewees see this question as daunting, it’s one of my personal favorites. This first question is your chance to roll out the red carpet and “wow” your interviewer. Your answer should be a fluid story that tells the interviewer why you want the position and how your education and experiences have prepared you for the role.
As you prepare your answer for this question consider the following do’s & don’ts…
- Keep it brief: Stick to four minutes or less, keep it concise and to the point.
- Connect your experiences: Explain to the interviewer how your past experiences (internships, leadership, service, etc.) have built upon each other, and then also connect them to why you’re interested in this particular position.
- Make it relevant: Share experiences and information that’s most relevant to the position you’re interviewing for, not everything you have ever accomplished.
- Show your interest: you need to be qualified for a position, but it’s also important that the interviewer can understand why you are interested in the position and organization.
- Share your life story: The interviewer will not be interested in hearing your complete unabridged autobiography. Remember that they already have your resume, so share the parts of your story that are most connected to the interview and why you became interested in the industry/organization.
- Air your dirty laundry: Be careful not to trash talk any former colleagues in an interview, keep things constructive. It’s ok to note that previous experiences just weren’t the right role for you. It’s a small world out there, so keep things appropriate.
- Forget to breathe: It’s OK to come up for air and have some pauses within your answer. This will even allow the interviewer to ask some follow up questions they may have.
Use these tips to help you craft an answer that helps you walk through your story like this example:
If you’re applying for jobs/internships we always encourage you to schedule a mock interview with an advisor to get as much preparation for the real thing as possible. This is a great chance to not only practice your “Tell me about yourself” answer, but gain some real interviewing experience. Call (804) 289-8547 to schedule a mock interview today!