Responding to “Tell me about yourself”

In most interviews, the first question is some variant of “Tell me about yourself.” This question is an opportunity to make a great first impression. There are 4 elements to great responses. Here’s the synthesis:

(1) Start with a mission/purpose statement. In a sentence, explain what matters to you. It always makes for a powerful start. If you manage to reinforce it in the rest of your story, we go from powerful to potent.

(2) Pick 3 milestones and explain the why + the relevant skill/learning . You don’t need to talk about every step in your career. Pick 3 that matter – this could be why you went to college, took a particular job, or even worked on a particular volunteer project. Explain why you chose to do what you did and what you learned. Ensure every skill/learning maps to a skill that is critical in this role. If all goes well, the interviewer will have no doubt about the relevance of your experiences and skills.

(3) As you approach the end, make it clear why you’re looking for a move. Great self introductions don’t require a “why are you interviewing now/for this role?” follow up question.

(4) Take no more than 2.5 to 3 mins. Anything more and your interviewer begins to wonder about your ability to communicate concisely. :-)

It takes a lot of practice to get to a self-introduction that has these elements without looking forced.

But, first impressions matter. So, it is practice that pays off.