Saturday, 26 January 2008

So tell me about yourself?

How much of yourself are you REALLY supposed to reveal when asked this highly popular job interview question?

A highly popular job interview question that really stumps jobseekers - and it's second only to being asked why you left your last job - sounds quite innocuous and even user-friendly on the surface. It's "Tell me about yourself." And if you're not prepared to answer it clearly and briefly, it may be the end of your chance to get the job.

The question is very common and employers can ask it in various different ways, but it's still the same question. They might ask, why should I hire you rather than the next candidate I talk to? And what they're really saying is, I'm going to give you a little bit of time to tell me anything you want.
Most job candidates hate this question, but it's really a friendly one: They're allowing you to say anything you want. You should be able to answer the question in "30 to 60 seconds." In that time frame, you have to concisely convey your interests, abilities, character, personality and what you're looking for.

You should use this short time to emphasize your "soft skills" in your brief opening statement. List your personal points of marketability, your organisational and leadership skills, your dependability and flexibility - you as a person, rather than your job experience.

But what will separate you from the others, is proof that you indeed have the skills. The proof will get you the job. If you say you have excellent time management skills, your next words should be: For example, I held a part-time job while taking college courses.

Ascertaining your soft skills is a necessary step to take so that you can use the time you have to your advantage. Think back on your life experiences, do a brainstorming exercise and pinpoint your personal points of marketability.

If you're applying for a sales position, the one soft skill you most likely would want to emphasise is your communication skill; an accounting job, that you are analytical and detail-oriented; and for most entry-level jobs, that you are absolutely dependable. Just give the top one or two skills in your reply - you can get to the others in the rest of the job interview.
Here are some suggestions about what to say in that less than one-minute window of opportunity:
"I am kind to my parents."
"My dog loves me."
"I donate blood."
"I help people across the street."

And most important of all:
"I'm someone who really needs a job!"

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