21 March 2022
#1 – Be the winning candidate: Tell me about yourself
1. Be the winning candidate series
Having spoken to 100s of interns, placement years, graduates, and professionals, the ourGen team have a super understanding of the most common interview questions used by the world’s largest recruiters. We have figured out the patterns in successful candidate responses and broken them down into the “Be the winning candidate series”.
2. Recruiters’ insight into the question
“Tell me about yourself” is possibly the most common interview question out there. It’s a real favourite for interviewers because it tells them so much about your character. How you respond, your tone, the length of your answer etc. all give away telling signs of what you are like as a person, and ultimately what you could be like to work with.
3. Avoid the traps
Beware, about 80% of all interviews begin with this “innocent” question. Many candidates, unprepared for the question, skewer themselves by rambling, recapping their life story, delving into ancient work history or personal matters.
4. The best answer
Start with the present and tell why you are well qualified for the position. Remember that the key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. In other words, you must sell what the buyer is buying. This is the single most important strategy in job hunting.
So, before you answer this or any question it’s imperative that you try to uncover your interviewer’s greatest need, want, problem or goal. To do so, make you take these two steps:
Do all the homework you can before the interview to uncover this person’s wants and needs (not the generalised needs of the industry or company). You can do this by searching for your interviewer’s LinkedIn and observing their posts and activity. If you don’t know your interviewer, try searching for “HR Manager”, or similar titles of the company you are interviewing for. Use these 3 message templates to stand out to recruiters so you can broaden your chances of securing an interview.
As early as you can in the interview, ask for a more complete description of what the position entails. You might say: “I have a number of accomplishments I’d like to tell you about, but I want to make the best use of our time together and talk directly to your needs. To help me do, that, could you tell me more about the most important priorities of this position? All I know is what I (heard from the recruiter, read in the classified ad, etc.)”
Then, always follow-up with a second and possibly, third question, to draw out his needs even more. Surprisingly, it’s usually this second or third question that unearths what the interviewer is most looking for.
You might ask simply, “And in addition to that?…” or, “Is there anything else you see as essential to success in this position?
This process will not feel easy or natural at first, because it is easier simply to answer questions, but only if you uncover the employer’s wants and needs will your answers make the most sense. Practice asking these key questions before giving your answers, the process will feel more natural, and you will be light years ahead of the other job candidates you’re competing with.
After uncovering what the employer is looking for, describe why the needs of this job bear striking parallels to tasks you’ve succeeded at before. Be sure to illustrate with specific examples of your responsibilities and especially your achievements, all of which are geared to present yourself as a perfect match for the needs he has just described.
From the ourGen team,
Good luck with your interview ✌️