Knowing how to answer this question in the job interview CAN make or break the entire process.
And “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” is usually one of the first questions asked during an interview.
For job seekers this question might seem straight forward. Some might even think “Wow, here’s a chance to impress with what I like to do and my education.”
And although you are thinking in the right direction, most recruiters and hiring managers actually DO NOT want to hear about these topics.
Yes, you read that right.
Most recruiters and hiring managers DON’T want to hear about your personal life or what university you attended and when you graduated.
Place yourself in the shoes of a recruiter or hiring manager for a second…
You’re entrusted to fill positions that receive over hundreds, maybe even thousands of applicants.
Your time is your most precious resource, you want to make sure that candidate is a great fit for the role and has the potential to grow.
So, you narrow down your list of candidates and start conducting interviews.
Which candidate are you likely to present to your colleagues for a final interview?
Candidate 1: Expressed a particular fondness for dogs while studying business and graduating college at 21 years old.
Candidate 2: Mentioned how their skill set helps them interact with clients and in turn, will help the company. But, only has a high school degree.
Of course, you’ll choose candidate 2!
The choice becomes clear here.
So yes, knowing how to respond to “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” question can set the tone for your interview.
Here are some tips on how to handle the question during interviews:
Make sure to research the company ahead of time – Yes, even though you’re no longer in school, you will still have homework! Before the interview take a look at the company. What problem are they helping their clients solve? How are they going about helping their clients in solving that problem? The company website and a Google search are your best friends during this process.
Solving those questions puts you in the position to relate your skills and experiences to the needs of the company. How can you help them? Hiring teams will notice you because you made the extra effort in understanding what matters to them through the research you conducted.
Focus on previous work and extracurricular activities – Most job seekers miss this step by focusing on personal stories and hobbies. Remember that the hiring team only has a limited amount of time for you… so you want to make an impression quickly and sell yourself on why you’re a good fit to move forward with the hiring process.
Personal stories about your age, school, and where you live do not show the folks in the hiring department if you can handle the job or not.
You show a hiring team you’re capable of doing the job by sharing experiences where you dealt with adversity—like dealing with an angry customer, handling disagreements with a co-worker or even learning a new technology. These stories offer the hiring team insight on how you handle conflict, pressure, and changes that you’re bound to face on the job, and gives them the confidence to move you forward in the process.
Practice your response – It is in your best interest to practice your response for this question because this is one of the most common job interview questions. Write down your response (by hand) and think about what the company stands to gain in hiring you.
Your level of preparedness will show companies that you care; companies will then know that you view the role as something more than just a “job”. This is what separates you from other job seekers that simply want to work for a company because of the reputation, the salary, or the office location.
If you want to take your efforts to the next level, you can also record yourself delivering your “Tell me about yourself” response. The video will help you notice whether you’re nervous or long-winded when answering the question. You can then make changes to streamline your response and improve your answer.
Answering the “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” question can seem daunting at first, but if you remember to do your research, you’ll find ways to talk about your stories in a way that helps employers see that you understand them and their problems. And once you do, you’ll notice that more job offers will start to come your way.