Welcome to the first in a new series addressing common interview questions and how you can prepare. If you have ever been stumped by a question, please share it in the comments and we can discuss it.
“Tell me about yourself.” This is the most common way that many interviewers begin, allowing the two of you to get comfortable with each other and to see what you have to say about yourself in an unstructured format. There may be variations, with the interviewer asking for something specific in the introduction, but you should never be challenged by this one.
Your answer should be one-half elevator speech and one-half “why I will be a great employee.” It is your opportunity to say what you want about yourself while also helping the interviewer know from the beginning why you are sitting in her chair and taking her time. If you combine those two elements, you will be off to a good start.
Here is an answer that uses the 50/50 formula: “My name is Jane Smith, and I am a career banker with a history of delivering top customer service scores and strong business results since I started in my career at Bank of America after completing my MBA at the University of Rhode Island. I hope that we can talk about how I can become a leader and important part of the team at Wells Fargo as you consider me for this new role.”
An answer like this is concise, clear and delivers on both parts of the formula. It tells why you are great and why you are interested in this job.
You will get this question, or one like it, so be ready. If you are interviewing over the phone, write it down and read it if you have to. If it is a live interview, practice giving your answer, asking a friend to critique your performance. Your first answer and first impressions will set the tone for the whole interview session, so don’t blow it – especially when you know it’s coming.
Question 2: Why Do You Want to Work Here?
Question 3: Tell Me About Your Greatest Accomplishment
Question 4: When Have You Failed?