“Tell me about yourself” may seem like an easy job interview question that your whole life has prepared you to answer, but the open-ended nature of this question leaves job seekers stumped on where to start. Does an interviewer actually want to know about your entire employment history and personal life?
This common question is actually a critical test of a job candidate’s communication skills, so you don’t want to wing it or screw it up. The good news is that if you can pitch the story of your career, it can help prepare you for any question that follows. “It’s at the heart of the entire interview,” said Judith Humphrey, founder of the Canadian communications firm The Humphrey Group. “What you’re really doing is you’re pitching yourself as an ideal candidate for that position.”
Sabina Nawaz, a global CEO coach who worked at Microsoft for more than 14 years, said it is the first question for which she preps people when they come to her for interview guidance. “It’s the opportunity for the candidate to take control of the narrative and tell their story in a way that really matters to their audience,” Nawaz said.
It takes hard work and extensive preparation to answer this question well, but it can be done. Here’s how: