You sit down with a prospective employer, you have your shiny resume in front of them, and you expect to start discussing your wonderful credentials. Then, just as you settle in you get, “Well ______________, tell me a little bit about yourself.” With that question you totally freeze, not knowing what to say. Is he interested in your My Little Pony collection? Does he want to know about your crippling addiction to online surveys? That you have an imaginary three legged hamster for a best friend? Probably not. The question is a little trickier than you might think at first.
There is a lot of advice out there on how to handle this question. Some advice has been, “What would you like to know?” Another is, “Well, I was born in a little log cabin in Blah, in the great state of Blahblah.” With some employers we’ve dealt with over the years, either answer could send the wrong signal, and as a result, you have to be careful. Many employers aren’t going to narrow it down for you, and if they do, it’s likely going to end up a boring question about your hobbies. So make sure you take this opportunity when it presents itself.
What we have found over the years is that the best way to answer that question is to say, “Well Mr. Employer, I find myself to be a—,” and at this point, start your sales pitch. What you want to do is focus on the strengths you have that would apply to the job you are interviewing for. Talk about your managerial ability, leadership skills, attention to detail, reliability, etc. Whatever would best tie into what the employer wants. Sometimes it is pure guesswork, but it is a much better way to address that age old question. Every question in an interview is an opportunity to sell yourself. Don’t let even one get away from you.
For you to do this effectively, you must prepare for it, and rehearse it. You may never get asked the question, but as the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, then memorize it. Your mind can go blank when you’re on the spot, and you may struggle to just remember what your strengths are. But if you memorize a list of them, you’ll have an easier time recalling them when under pressure. Before any interview, go over your list, and try to find ways to apply them all to the job you’re interviewing for.
As mentioned above, there is a lot of advice out there, and everyone has an opinion. But, we know for a fact that the approach suggested above does, and has worked. Everytime you speak on an interview, you should be demonstrating some way you’re the perfect candidate. Being ready to tell an employer about yourself in a positive and beneficial manner will only help you nail the interview.