Answering The Most-Dreaded Interview Question

Great, you’ve got an interview for an internship or job that really excites you! You begin to prepare for the interview and think about the most frequently asked question:

“So, tell me about yourself.”

You get nervous just thinking about such an open-ended question. Rather than dread this inquiry, here are some do’s and don’ts to help you set a positive tone for the interview.

DON’T tell your life story—I had three cats a dog and a bird growing up, I sailed every summer on the Cape, I played the piano until high school, and I don’t eat meat—unless any of these comments are relevant to the job.

DON’T ramble on; a one- to two-minute, succinct answer is best. At the end of your answer, you may ask the interviewer if he or she would like more information.

How do you make sure not to do either of those? The trick is to prepare a great answer in advance with the following tips.

DO read the position description before the interview and note the skills and experience that the job requires.

DO write your answer out, then practice. Rehearse until it sounds natural.

DO follow these three steps to formulate your answer, which is basically an elevator pitch, focused on a specific position.

Step 1: Who I Am
Mention and match the specific skills and strengths you have that most directly relate to the position.

Step 2: What I’ve Done
Talk about one or two of your internships, previous or present jobs, extracurricular activities, or projects that most directly relate to the role.

Step 3: How I Can Help You
Finish with a statement about how exited you are to transfer these skills to this position, and how your experience and skills will benefit the employer.

Even if you’re not asked the ‘tell me about yourself’ question, you can use this response to answer many other typical interview questions like ‘why should we hire you?’ or ‘why are you the best person for this job?’

Looking for more help?

DO check out the CCD’s website and interview guide for useful information about nailing an interview.

DO use Handshake’s Big Interview to practice interview questions or make an appointment with a career counselor to review this question and/or practice your interviewing skills

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