by Laura Paradise & Mansi Gandhi

We know, it’s almost inevitable that the interviewer is going to say, “Tell me about yourself”.

It’s one of the most common (and tricky) job interview questions.

Recently at The Job Forum, Laura Paradise, one of our expert panelists,(who are managers at Bay Area companies and consultancies) hosted a workshop for job hunters. We discussed how to answer, “Tell me about yourself”.  This question is  a great opportunity to spotlight the skills and experience that make you the ideal candidate for a job.

What are the most important qualities you should communicate in a job interview?

The top qualities that hiring managers look for include noticing if  you are:

  • Confident
  • Enthusiastic and motivated
  • Articulate
  • Relaxed
  • Relatable

People who get hired, are confident, know their strengths and communicate that they can make a difference.

Enthusiasm and motivation are absolutely at the top of the list. Good energy is infectious. You tell the interviewer that you really are excited about the job, you are inspired.  They want to hire candidates who want to do the job.

Ability to be articulate is really important, so show that you can articulate your thoughts clearly. It’s good to practice before you tell a story or answer a question, such as, “Tell me about yourself”.

Being relaxed is actually pretty important. If you’re nervous and anxious, that also is a little bit infectious and can get in your way.

Being relatable and approachable allows you to connect with the interviewer and shows you can be part of a team.

The most qualified candidate is not always the person who gets hired; the person who gets hired is the person who’s the most enthusiastic and confident, and relatable.

How you speak matters as much as what you say. When somebody is mumbling or rambling, or they don’t have a clear point when they tell a story or they talk too softly or too fast, these interfere with the interviewer’s ability to really hear and relate to what you have to say.

The How you come across matters. So, connect to yourself first before you begin to speak.

When someone says “Tell me about yourself” many of us just lose our focus. We try to pack in too much when we talk about ourselves.

Most of the time in an interview, you have only about 90 seconds, to talk about yourself. It’s better to be focused.  So, practice speaking out loud before an interview.  Job hunters who don’t practice find it hard to answer this question well.

There are different kinds of things you can talk about when you talk about yourself. You might think, it’s all about my resume, my skills, my accomplishments. But values are super important, and they really are a very relatable quality. You can talk about your education, personality traits, hobbies, projects, talents, volunteering, passions, goals, dreams, and experience and training. The thing about talking about yourself is you get to choose what to highlight, and it doesn’t have to be just what’s on the resume; it might also be something that isn’t on the resume. Because it’s your time to talk about what you think is really important for someone to remember about you.

Do’s and Don’ts

Remember you want to be confident, clear and enthusiastic so choose one thing to focus on. Pick what you feel most confident about.

How you are a match as far as values and commitment, how you can apply your skills and strengths to help them be successful, how you will grow in the position, how the work fits with your career objective and thus you are very motivated.

Want to hear Do not want to hear
What motivates you Monotone, half-hearted energy
What distinguishes you Your resume
What matters to you (your values) Your life story
Your confidence A list of your accomplishments
How their position/company fits with your career objectives Every career decision and meander along the way
Relevant outside interests, volunteering Your favorite sports team

Talk about your values.

When it comes to doing a project, what do you care about?

Name one thing and give a supporting proof statement to illustrate your work standards.

For example, “I care about creating workshop content that people can put to use right away. When people take a workshop with me, they try things out. They don’t just sit and take notes”.

Say exactly how your values influence the way you work with other people?

On a team, I care about….

With clients, I care about …..

As a manager, I care about…..

Personality also matters. People want to know what you are like to work with, how you will get along. This is especially important in roles with lots of people contact.

Provide examples.

Providing examples strengthens everything you say. Rather than just saying ‘I’m a team player and I believe in the power of collaboration”, back it up with an example that illustrates that point. Talk about a time where you worked well on a team and the results that were a result of good teamwork. Explain why you feel so strongly about the power of collaboration and how that influences the way you work.

A final word on how to answer, “Tell me about yourself”

Be concise. Don’t take up too much time with your response. You don’t have to tell the hiring manager every single thing that you think makes you a great candidate. Just give a few important details that will spark their interest in learning more about you, and you’ll get the interview off to a strong start.

The Job Forum is a nonprofit run by volunteers who offer job hunters insights and advice from experts in various industries. Our volunteer experts are insiders in Bay Area companies who advise job seekers with practical ideas for how to be more successful in finding a job or taking their next step in a career.

The Job Forum offers virtual events, meetings and Q&A sessions that are organized to assist job hunters with customized assistance and ideas every Wednesday and Thursday evening from 6 pm-8 pm.

Sign up on Eventbrite to register and take advantage of these  sessions.

Please support The Job Forum with your donations to our non profit 501C3 so we can continue to help the many people who are out of work and who will value some practical guidance, insider tips, ideas, contacts and encouragement.

by Laura Paradise and Mansi Gandhi

Laura is Career Coach with Paradise Coaching