New jobs are exciting—like nothing else. They represent a new course in life with a trajectory often set after the learning of many lessons prior. You know more about who you are, where you want to go, and how you want to get there—but you’ve got to make it through the interview first!
Tell Me About Yourself
These 4 words can be the most daunting phrases you’ll hear during an interview, with way to much room for flexibility. You need to be honest, but also realize that ‘tell me about yourself’ coming from the mouth of financial managers HR manager doesn’t really mean, ‘tell me about your childhood.’
There’s an ocean of possibility when faced with this question, but also a wide range of eloquent and effective ways to approach with your answer. To better overview this topic, consider what The Muse has to say:
1. Tell a Story
Nothing is worse than hearing a candidate’s baseless claims about his or her identity in the workplace—à la “I’m a detail-oriented problem solver!” It’s much more effective to share a story that shows, not tells—particularly if you’re early on in your career, because your career has much more potential than proof at this early stage.
Try referencing a time when your potential was recognized in the workplace, and talk about how that specific incident relates back to your talents and interest in the position at hand. For example, my client Jenny spent years working as a headhunter for a large staffing firm and was hopeful to secure more responsibility doing business development. When she heard that the CEO of a global IT company moved next door to her parents, she took it upon herself to knock on their door with some “welcome to the neighborhood” brownies. By the end of her stay next door, she had a business deal in hand.
She weaved that story into her elevator pitch—and needless to say, she was leveraging multiple job offers in business development.
Bonus points if you’re able to express your passion for the industry in a way that tells the interviewer this isn’t just another job, but rather a critical piece of your life purpose. On that note:
2. Make it About Them, Too
It’s not enough to talk about yourself and your own interest in the position—you’ll want to make sure your pitch explains why you want to work for this company. There are always resources available to you: the company’s mission statement, client roster, press coverage, and social media platforms, and your own personal experiences, to name a few. These all provide information that you can use in explaining why you think the company is special.
For example, I had a client who dreamed of working for Vogue magazine. When she succeeded in landing an interview, she knew she had to prove more than just her love for fashion editorial; she needed to prove her passion for Vogue . She told the interviewer about flipping through the glossy pages of her mom’s copies of the magazine before she even understood what the articles were about. As she got older, she was moved by Vogue ’s support for young designers. She couldn’t afford many of the clothes she saw on the pages, but she was inspired to take sewing classes so that she could modify her own department store wardrobe. To her, Vogue was more than just another fashion magazine.
By establishing a personal connection to the company, you’re also building the interviewer’s confidence that you’re more than just a new hire, you’re an investment—someone who truly wants to grow with the firm.