Have you been asked the job interview question, “Tell me about yourself?” It is a tried and true question or maybe a tired, but true question that many interviewers still ask. When an interviewer asks this question, it is typically one of the first questions asked. What is the interviewer really trying to find out? He wants to get an overall picture about you. Here is how you do not want to answer this interview question:
- “Well, I was born in Kalamazoo”…NO…the interviewer does not want a biography.
- “I am married with a baby boy, a dog named Rex, and a cat”…NO…way too personal and off subject of the job.”
- “I am a hard worker”……NO….way too cliché and has no meaning.
- “I am a people person”…NO…another worse cliché. A serial killer could say the same thing.
The best interview answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself,” is to talk about your successes in a way that tells the interviewer that you can fit their job needs. To give your best answer you must know what the job description is, and what the company is looking for. If your interviewer really does want to know about where you grew up, she will ask that specific question. This could lead to an illegal question, but that is a topic for another article. I pulled a job listing for an electrical engineer. I read the overall job description and the thirteen bullet points of the job description. The overall description is:
We are seeking to hire a corporate electrical engineer responsible for maintaining and improving the electrical systems for XYZ Energy’s existing facilities. The successful candidate will also be responsible for design guidance, review, and construction support for future facilities.
Then I reviewed the bullet points and chose one that was technical and one that involved people. Here are the two bullet points:
- Lead investigations with site personnel to troubleshoot and resolve plant electrical system problems.
- Work with site and construction personnel to develop and implement small capital projects to improve site electrical systems including providing electrical input for project proposal development.
There are many job requirements to this position. In this electrical engineer interview, you do not want to limit yourself to sounding like you have only one or two of skills, with the first interview answer you give. You do want to give actual results that you have accomplished. If you are known for finding problems others miss and you are someone who can get a team working together, then your answer to, “Tell me about yourself,” for the job listed above will be something similar to:
“I am an electrical engineer with eight years of working in a variety of situations. I am known to be able to find problems that others have missed, and then work with the on-site teams to quickly get the problems fixed, to improve the electrical systems and facilities. The last company I worked for had an issue and I saved an estimated $500,000 in equipment failures because I discovered the problem and we fixed it right away.”
You can see that the interview answer incorporated part of the overall description, as well as the bullet points listed. Be sure that you are always honest in an interview. Lying about your abilities or achievements will catch up with you. The bottom line for the answer to any interview question is to give an honest answer, and talk about your skills and results.
by Easter Becker-Smith