Focus on your values and morals, cultural fit and personal traits relevant for the job. If you are going for a job as a nurse, show that you are compassionate. A journalist might be inquisitive and a judge might have a highly-tuned sense of social justice.
Don’t waste the opportunity by simply diving into a long recitation of your resume.
When an interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself,” the interviewer wants information that is pertinent to the job you’re interviewing for.
List five strengths you have that are pertinent to this job (experiences, traits, skills, etc.). What do you want the interviewer to know about you when you leave?
Eleanor is strong in communications and connecting with people. She has a strong background and proven success with customer relationships. Her real strength is her follow-through. She prides herself on her reputation for meeting deadlines.
Follow your script
Prepare a script that includes the information you want to convey. Begin by talking about past experiences and proven success:
“I have been in the customer service industry for the past five years. My most recent experience has been handling incoming calls in the high tech industry. One reason I particularly enjoy this business, and the challenges that go along with it, is the opportunity to connect with people. In my last job, I formed some significant customer relationships resulting in a 30 percent increase in sales in a matter of months.”
Next, mention your strengths and abilities:
“My real strength is my attention to detail. I pride myself on my reputation for following through and meeting deadlines. When I commit to doing something, I make sure it gets done, and on time.”
Conclude with a statement about your current situation:
“What I am looking for now is a company that values customer relations, where I can join a strong team and have a positive impact on customer retention and sales.”
Practice with your script until you feel confident about what you want to emphasize in your statement. Your script should help you stay on track, but you shouldn’t memorize it—you don’t want to sound stiff and rehearsed. It should sound natural and conversational.
Even if you are not asked this type of question to begin the interview, this preparation will help you focus on what you have to offer. You will also find that you can use the information in this exercise to assist you in answering other questions. The more you can talk about your product—you—the better chance you will have at selling it.