All of my career coaching clients go through “tell me about yourself” during our first ten minutes together. Why is this so pivotal? It is for several reasons. The most important one is that the first impression is a lasting impression. In a job interview situation it is of utmost importance to make a good first impression. If you don’t make that good impression, it will be very hard–if not impossible–to dig out of that hole. “Tell me about yourself” sets the scene. If you answer it well, you’ll be riding a good wave, and everything you say after that will be viewed through a positive prism. Otherwise, the opposite is true.
You may want to ask, ”So why am I being asked this question?” After all, the interviewer (hopefully) has read your resume and knows everything about your professional past and respective accomplishments. Nevertheless, the test contained within the question is twofold. First, do you know what your accomplishments are? And second, if you do, can you recount them eloquently and succinctly?
More important than everything I’ve said so far is your understanding of the reason you were called in for an interview. Think about it for a second. Oops, you’re wrong! It’s not about your having the opportunity to tell the hiring manager how great you are and to sell yourself. It’s clearly about one thing and one thing only: what you can do for the hiring manager. Now, if you agree with that contention, go back and rethink your personal marketing program. Your interview answers should universally focus on how your past experience and skills can help meet the hiring manager’s challenges.
This article originally appeared on the OU Job Board.