Probably the most common first job interview question is, “Tell me about yourself.” This question causes anxiety for a lot of job seekers because the question seems so broad, but this question isn’t as open-ended as it appears at first glance.
To answer this question effectively, respond as if the interviewer asked, “Why should we hire you?”
The interviewer is not usually interested in where you were born, where you attended high school, or your long meandering career history. The interviewer only wants to know whether you are a good fit with the requirements of this job.
When responding to this question, remember that human memory is limited and listeners can usually remember only three to four main points about you.
I suggest that you aim to make 3 points:
1. How your CAREER BACKGROUND is a good fit.
2. What STRENGTHS/SKILLS you offer that are a match with the job.
3. Why you WANT THIS JOB.
If you can answer these three questions, you will be doing better than most job seekers.
For example, if you are interviewing for a product marketing management role, here is a response that addresses the above three points:
“I’m a product marketing professional with a successful six-year track record in marketing software in the B2B space. My primary strength is that I reliably increase product market share; for example, at XYZ Corp, I led a team that grew our market share by 22% over a two-year period. I am also proud of my consistent ability to collaborate well with sales and engineering departments. My current employer is consolidating the marketing function after being acquired by ABC Inc., so I’ve decided to pursue other job opportunities. I am interested in your opening as a Product Marketing Lead because I am confident that my skills would be a good fit with developing strategy and implementing promotion of your CRM product.”
See how that answer briefly touches on the job seeker’s career background, strengths/skills, and the reason that they want the job?
As part of interview prep, I recommend writing out a paragraph for yourself that makes these three points. (Writing helps to solidify the points in your memory for later use.)
Customize your response for EVERY job as the best answer will be different depending on what the job requirements are.