Often times, the first question asked after taking a seat to begin your interview is the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” statement. It becomes a question because it now requires that you give an answer. Often times, how this question is answered determines the whole outcome of the interview, either positively or negatively.
This open ended question is tricky because the job seeker is now thinking of what to talk about. Do you talk about your time in secondary school, or how you grew up in Ibadan? Do you talk about where you worked before and why you are here now?
What exactly do you talk about? You do not know what the interviewer wants to hear, so it’s almost difficult to have the right answer. We’ll share a few tips on how to go on answering this awfully dreaded question.
- Talk about what makes you stand out, what’s unique to you. Talk about your intellectual ability. If there’s any training or certification that you have, here’s where you talk about it.
“I have a great affinity for details and I also possess excellent written and oral communication skills. My cognitive flexibility also makes it easy for me to learn and execute tasks. I’m all for personal development, that is why I have taken courses in project management and I have certificates to show for it”
- Talk about your experience, or specialization or skill that you might have.
“I have an accumulative one year experience in the fashion industry and I have a good knowledge of a wide range of software used for effective service delivery”
- Focus on your strengths and abilities and support them with examples.
“I have excellent drafting, presentation, contract documentation and negotiation skills. During my time at XYZ, I was in charge of a communication channel which the company used and I also supervised the execution of a company project. ”
- If you have personal achievements or awards, talk about them here “In 2015, I was staff of the year at XYZ” .The Idea is to keep it short and simple, so use a TWO-MINUTE rule when you want to answer this question. It helps you summarize your sentences and talk about important things only.
What are the things you should avoid talking about?
- Avoid personal information. No interviewer wants to know the number of your siblings or the size of your family.
- Avoid any talk about political views or sensitive issues.
- It’s not the time to tell the company how they can greatly benefit from you.
It all boils down to what you want the interviewer to remember about you. Don’t forget to send an email after the interview.
7 Common mistakes to make at a job interview.
There are common mistakes that candidates make during job interviews that they do not even know they are making. Most of these mistakes are considered red flags and it is important that you try to avoid them.
- Dressing Inappropriately : This tops the list of common mistakes that candidates make because often times they are either under-dressed or overdressed for the interview. When you interview for a job, it’s imperative to look professional and polished although your attire may vary based on the position you’re applying for.
- Arriving late: First impressions last very long and you do not want to appear as a latecomer on the first day of your interview at the company. Running late not only suggests poor time management skills, but shows a lack of respect for the company, the position, and even your interviewer. Make extra efforts to ensure that you are not late, Budget your time so that you make it to the interview five to ten minutes early. That way, if something unforeseen comes up on your way over to your interview, you’ll have some extra time.
- Using your phone during the interview; Resist the temptation to check your phone during an interview. Put your phone on silent mode and turn off notifications until the interview is over. Texting during your interview is not only rude and disruptive, but it’s a pretty clear message to your potential employer that getting the job is not your top priority.
- Not researching about the company; Don’t be thrown aback by simple questions about the company. Do your research and know some things about the company you are applying for.
- Talking too much: Be a minimalist with your words. Say a lot without saying a lot. There is nothing much worse than interviewing someone who goes on and on. The interviewer really doesn’t need to know your whole life story. Keep details short while giving out useful information.
- Inaccurate Resume facts: Make sure that you are able to back up everything that is written in your resume. The more truthful you are on your resume, the better you will be able to discuss your past experience during your interview.
- Badmouthing past employers: It’s not the time to tell your potential employers how badly your old employers treated you. You don’t want the interviewer to think that you might speak that way about his or her company if you leave on terms that aren’t the best.