How to Answer this Common Interview Question

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​Here at Chandler Macleod, interviewing is one of the most common activities we do, because it is part of the application process for our roles; and with over 40, 000 employees and contractors out on site, that’s a lot of interviews! So, our consultants are experts at asking the right questions to get the information they need to gauge both your skill suitability and whether you are the best fit for the organisation.

We know there is nothing more nerve-wracking than interviewing for a position you really want but preparation is key to success. In our experience, this question is guaranteed to be asked at every interview, because it gives a great estimate of skill and overall suitability. So, what is this popular question?

"tell us a little about yourself"

This great, open-ended question can leave you hanging with your mouth open and streams of thoughts running through your head – that is, if you have not prepared for it. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Here is what they are not asking…

  • Tell me about your hobbies

  • Give me your life’s story. Start from birth.

  • Tell me about every job you’ve ever had

What they are asking…

  • Give us a short, relevant summary of yourself and your relevant skills as they relate to this position.

  • Let us know your skills, experience and work style but keep it less than a few minutes.

  • Tell us how your skills and experience are going to benefit us

Seems easy right? We know it’s a bit of a process to get this information into a 3-minute block so we recommend preparing a type of ‘elevator pitch’ about yourself and practicing (not once, but over and over!). You don’t need to recite it word for word, in fact, it’s better to keep things casual and conversational but if you’ve practiced, the words should flow back to you easily on the day. Here’s a framework for preparing your pitch.

[Optional] I’m a….

This is great if you’ve got a strong history or ‘label’ you can apply to yourself. For example if you’re a sales executive who has got specialist knowledge in one area you could say “I’m an experience sales executive with specialist B2B experience in healthcare”

Currently I…

Succinctly detail your current or last position i.e. “currently I work for a top healthcare organisation and I’m their lead sales representative with a 95% hit rate on sales targets. I’m known for my ability to make connections and networks with difficult to reach customers”

But previously I have….

Add to your experience by highlighting a couple of relevant past positions i.e. “previously I have held both B2B and B2C roles in healthcare, the most recent being with XYZ care where I had both client and patient contact when discussing patient plans and use of the key product we were selling. I increased sales of the product by 20% in my first year”

Now I’m looking to….

Detail why you’re looking for a change or looking to enter this role: “Now I’m looking to challenge my B2B skills with a step into this role. I feel my healthcare experience combined with my great communication and networking skills will mean I’m able to excel and help the organisation succeed in reaching their targets”

Try to link the skills you’re listing to the skills they’ve asked for in the position description. Finally signal you’re finished by asking if they have any questions about your skills and experience.

The question “tell us about yourself” is often asked early in the interview. Respond to this well, and it will set the tone for the remainder of the interview. Underprepare and prepare to fail!

For more Interview tips, check out the below articles:

Prepare for these top interview questions

Interview Success – preparation tips

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