Monday, May 06, 2013

Interview Question: Tell me about yourself

Today I ran jobseeker Interview Question training for a group of my clients, and this has left me on a natural high.

I started the training by requiring my fifteen member strong group to first answer the question, "Tell me about yourself". As suspected, these unemployed individual's almost all answered the question by mentioning their own interests, and making unprovable (and highly challenge-able) claims (such as I am honest and reliable).

Employers often ask this question first up when meeting a candidate (once everyone is settled into their seats) to encourage open communication and to get the interview going.  Employers are professional entities and they are seeking to gain perspective about the candidate's professional background, not their personal one.

But job seekers, upon hearing the above words, tend to answer on a personal level something like "Well, I'm [X] years old, and have three kids..." 

Job seekers need to be mindful that every word they say can leave a positive, negative or neutral impression on the employer.  They don't want to accidentally give an employer any reason to discriminate against them; they want (and need) the employer to judge them completely on their ability to do the job, and have the interviewer come to the conclusion that they would be a good fit with the business.

So how should candidates be answering that question? They should answer something like "I have 5 years experience as a [type of work]..." and the rest of the two to three sentences that the candidate says should include information such as duties performed which are related to the job on offer - to encourage the employer to want to know more about them and their suitability to the role.

Remember, every job seeker thinks they are able to do the job they are interviewing for; but employers need them to prove this to them -- not with claims but -- with examples of skills, knowledge and experience that leads the employer to believe the candidate is capable of doing the job for them.

My group today went from "I'm [X] years old, have three kids and live in [name of suburb]..." to "I have 5 years experience as a [type of work]..." and mention the related skills and qualifications they gained or are the holder of that would be of interest to the employer. 

I am so proud of my group today; especially seeing as we had no computers for the entire day due to a system meltdown, and were given permission by management to leave early but instead chose to participate in this impromptu training session. It was so pleasing to witness the boost in confidence, and motivation, that these job seekers gained just from understanding things from an employers perspective which allowed them to improve their tell me about yourself pitch.

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