This is one of the most commonly asked interview questions, or statements as it’s technically not a question. It’s a short sentence that strikes fear into many interviewees who, if unprepared, can disappear into a rabbit hole of childhood stories, fascinating anecdotes about dogs, kids, or where they grew up. Be warned, that’s not what the interviewer is looking for! So what should you talk about?
‘Tell me about yourself’ in an interview situation really means ‘talk to me briefly about who you are from a professional point of view.’ There’s a reason that interviewers pose this at the start of an interview — it says ‘give me some background before we get into the specifics of your resume.’
Well-prepared Carrington graduates will have had the opportunity to rehearse their answer with their Career Services team. Some call it an elevator pitch, and people commonly rehearse and use elevator pitches for situations where they need to get key points across quickly; an interview is just that kind of situation.
If you have experience in the field you’re interviewing for then be ready with a one-minute answer that summarizes where you’re at in your career (with an emphasis on your most recent job) and your education, what you do, and the strengths of your approach.
However, most Carrington graduates will be looking for entry-level positions in a new field. You won’t yet have a relevant career to describe; if that’s you, then your answer should be more forward-looking.
Keep your ‘pitch’ focused on your professional attributes; that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say anything personal, but make sure there’s a relevant reason for raising it. There’s no need to talk about your family, your spouse, or where you grew up…unless it ties back in to the position and your profession.
Whatever your answer, practice it out loud until it flows naturally. You don’t want to sound like you’re delivering a stage monologue. If you go in unprepared and try to wing it, you’ll most likely fail – stumbling with lots of ‘ummms’ and ‘ahhhhs’ is not a great way to start an interview. You might lose your audience before you’ve even got into the specifics of your resume.
Practice makes perfect, and if your interview does start with this statement, imagine how good you’ll feel being well prepared! Your Career Services department can help you with interview techniques like these and more.