–By Karalie Kanneh, Senior Technical Recruiter at Arrow Solutions Group
It is going to happen, somewhere down the line; someone will ask you the infamous “tell me about yourself” question. Many times interviewers will ask you this question to break the ice or get things rolling in the interviewer.
This question should be a slam dunk for two reasons; 1.) you know they are going to ask this question and 2.) you know this answer – you just have to verbalize it.
“Tell me about yourself” is a combination of who you are professionally (past) and who you want to become (future). Do not talk about your personal life or family life. Do not talk about your inner feelings.
Number 1: Break it down and create your story.
Essentially the “Tell me about yourself” is a combination of who you are professionally (past) and who you want to become (future). So let’s break it down!
The wrong way:
My name is Cindy and I love organic gardening and spending time with my grand-kids. I have a golden retriever named “Lady” and we take walks every day. By the way did I tell you I am an avid knitter and sushi maker? Also I have deep personal hurts due to a divorce which I am working through. Blah, blah, blah
Do not talk about your personal life or family life. Do not talk about your inner feelings.
Breaking it down step-by-step
- Start by writing a bullet of your career history that relates to the job you are applying for.
- Add one or two bullets from your recent accomplishments or success stories.
- Add a personal story from your background that will make the interviewer remember you, like a hook in a song. (This can be anywhere in your pitch: beginning, middle, or end).
- Write a bullet or two of what you are looking for in a job and why the targeted company/employer would be a great place to work at.
- Restate in your last bullet what the job is that you are applying for. This will create an essential emotional connection between you and the interviewer because you are acknowledging their need.
Here are our example bullets for a software engineer:
- Software Developer, 6 years of full stack development experience in open source
- CS degree from MIT
- Promote to technical lead a year ago of 6 developers
- Current technical stack: Java, Spring, Hibernate, RESTful
- Saved company 5% in production costs and zero down time for upgrades to my improved processes
- My personal story of wanting to be an inventor as a child
- Targeted company: create web applications that monitor people’s health
- What is the targeted company’s job? Senior Java Engineer with lead experience
Now let’s put it together for the interview. Now… “tell me about yourself!”
I am a software Developer with 6 years of full stack development in open source technologies.
Additionally I have a computer science degree from MIT.
A year ago, I was promoted to technical lead of a java development team of 6 developers. We create RESTful web applications from the ground up using Java, Spring, and Hibernate. Our current project has saved my current company 5% in production costs and we have zero down time for upgrades due to our continuous deployment processes which I helped put in place.
You know as a child I dreamed of being an inventor like Thomas Edison and now I get to create life changing software that helps people in their lives. I am grateful that I get to satisfy one of my life long goals.
I understand here at XYZ Company you are creating web applications that monitor people’s health to predicate health crisis’s in advance. I love the idea of utilizing cutting edge technology to help people lead better and longer lives. I think my natural curiosity and lifelong passion combined with my work experience would add value to your team.
I believe you are looking for a Senior Java Engineer with lead experience which is the type of job I am looking for.
Writing and Creating Your Story:
This is really the hardest step, actually writing and creating your story. Here are a few points to remember as you create your story:
- Start by creating simple bullets that you can easily memorize and adapt to different situations and job opportunities
- Cut out all buzzwords and focus on articulating your experience with details
- Use the term “we” which shows you are ready to work collaboratively and you are interested in the success of your co-workers and supervisors
- Create your success stories and use data details (figures, and numbers to back it up)
- Include “leadership” roles and/or projects which illustrates a desire to step out
- Treat your “tell me about yourself” statement as your first test which will showcase your ability to present and have strong soft skills.
- Don’t be a bore but make it personal, engaging, and interesting to the listener
Number 2: Make it personal with achievement details and interesting stories.
Tell a compelling and unique story that will create an emotional connection with hiring managers. Stories from childhood, success stories in your career, overcoming obstacles, and turnaround situations will work as long as they are short and make a winning point. People remember stories and they will make you stand out from the pack.
Number 3: Practice makes perfect.
I mean practice! Which is spending an hour daily reviewing and reading your tell me about yourself statement out loud from bullets. Don’t write it out because they will sound scripted but use your bullets and add or take away as necessary for specific interview. Practice extensively for a month and the dividends will pay off in your interviews with your ability to seamlessly spin your professional story effortlessly.
Number 4: Connect your story to the job.
After you have spent all this time talking about yourself, be sure to tactfully tie your experience back to the job and company on hand. Include why this particular job is great and why this company is an awesome place to work for in your statement. Take time to peruse the prospect employer’s website and note core values and other details that you can weave into your “tell me about yourself” statement. This will impress the hiring manager that you took time to research them and that you actually care and you are a culture fit.
Looking for your next career? Arrow Solutions Group is hiring! Check out our jobs listings by clicking on the image or visit https://jobs.arrowsolutionsgroup.com/ .
If you create an interesting and relevant career story that you present well, you will be stand out and set the stage for a successful interview. You cannot fail this question if you prepare properly since you already know what they are going to ask! If you need assistance, or have questions, please leave a comment or message me on LinkedIn – just click on the image or visit: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kkanneh/. I am happy to help you achieve your career goals. Remember: many small steps taken correctly can accomplish something great!!
Arrow Solutions Group is an Engineering & IT Staffing company, specializing in providing talent for staff augmentation, contract-to-hire, direct placement, or IT Executive Searches. By providing a personalized experience and keeping values at the core of our process, we deliver the best experiences in the industries we serve: Telecommunications, Healthcare, and Banking.