You have landed the interview for your dream job. Now, you start getting nervous as you realize it is time to prepare for the ever-important interview. What kind of questions are they going to ask? This is one of the things you should really ponder prior to walking through the business door on the date of your interview.

No matter the type of business, industry, geographic location of the company, or the interviewer’s experience level, one statement is bound to arise: Tell me a little about yourself. This is likely the first thing that is said as you sit down behind the conference room table. This statement should be easily answered, shouldn’t it? Surprisingly—for many people—this is a difficult thing to discuss and most people don’t know where to begin with the response.

Prior to answering this statement, put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. What does that person REALLY want to know about you? Do they want to know that your birthday is April 12 and that your favorite color is purple? No, of course not. Do they want to know that you have a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and have eight years of sales experience? Absolutely.

You must be careful when answering these questions. First, think of how this would sound: “My name is Heather and I have an 11-year old son. I am very actively involved in his school and try to volunteer as much as possible.” What does the potential employer hear? The interviewer hears the following, “My name is Heather. And, by the way, I may miss a lot of work because I do a ton of volunteering at my son’s school. This means I may miss important work deadlines and, quite possibly, may not be able to work overtime when you need me to do so.” I couldn’t be more proud to be a mother to a wonderful son, but this is not something I discuss as the starting point during an interview. My focus is on professional accomplishments, educational background, and business expertise.

To avoid this scenario, stay with job-related information and have a brief 30-60 second introduction ready-to-go when you enter the interview. Also, DO NOT ask the employer the following: “Well, what do you want to know about me?” This shows that you are unsure of yourself and your strengths. Here are four tips to help you plan your response:

  1. Employers are looking for confidence. Say your statements firmly and as definitive sentences. Don’t add a verbal question mark to the end of your statements.
  2. Do not ask them what they want to hear or what they would like to know. This shows that you are unsure of yourself and don’t have a planned and confident response to the question.
  3. Give a brief overview of your job history or why you have applied for this particular job. Don’t provide a play-by-play of your past 20 years of experience; however, show how that experience relates to the potential employer.
  4. Stay with job-related information as much as possible. While most people immediately want to discuss their family, where they live, or community involvement, this is not the time. In addition, by discussing these personal things, you open yourself to potential discrimination.

Prepare your response to this all-important question carefully. As the first statement during an interview, your response is going to set the tone for the rest of the interview process. Prepare, plan, and develop a productive response to this question in order to shine a light on your strengths and help you land that dream job. Interested in more information about job interviews? We offer INTERVIEW COACHING – contact us today!