You have landed the interview for your dream job. Now, it’s time to prepare for the interview itself. 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? Well, maybe. Or maybe not.

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? Of course not. Do they want to know that you have a bachelor’s 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 a 7-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
  2. Do not ask them what they want to hear or what they would like to know
  3. Give a brief overview of why you have applied for this particular job
  4. Stay with job-related information as much as possible

Prepare your reponse to this all-important question carefully. As the first statement during an interview, your response to this statement 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.