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Tell Me About Yourself – How to Wow Your Interviewers

By September 24, 2011 December 31st, 2018 No Comments
two executives, man and woman, interviewing woman, handshake between both women, everyone smiling

Article Summary:  Imagine you have spent the day interviewing. You met senior leaders from every department. Your last interview is with Donald, the CEO. He graciously welcomes you into his office and offers you a seat in a comfortable-looking chair. Donald smiles and starts the same way everyone else did…“Tell me about yourself.” Will your answer impress him? What will happen when Donald compares his notes with the other interviewers? What impression did you make and what will everyone say about you? Your answer to “Tell me about yourself” is the elevator pitch of job hunting. All too often senior executives offer an unrehearsed and uninspiring answer. You can only make one first impression… [This article was originally written for the American Marketing Association Executive Circle]

TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF – HOW TO WOW YOUR INTERVIEWERS

Copyright © 2011. The Chief Storyteller®, LLC.
Ira J. Koretsky
May 2011

Imagine you have spent the day interviewing for a position at a major corporation. You met senior leaders from every department. Your last interview is with Donald, the CEO. He graciously welcomes you into his office and offers you a seat in a comfortable-looking chair. Donald smiles and starts the same way everyone else did…“Tell me about yourself.”

Will your answer impress him? What will happen when Donald compares his notes with the other interviewers? What impression did you make and what will everyone say about you?

Your answer to “Tell me about yourself” is the elevator pitch of job hunting. All too often senior executives offer an unrehearsed and uninspiring answer. You can only make one first impression…

Here are some suggestions for wow-ing your interviewers.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Spend quality time researching your prospective company and interviewers. With our challenging current economic situation, it is more important than ever to impress them. It may surprise you how many candidates interviewing for senior leadership positions hurt themselves by not doing the necessary research. Getting to know your audience truly will set you apart.

The insights you glean from the research help you develop a thought-provoking answer that addresses the corporation’s and interviewing team’s goals. You’ll be more memorable while reinforcing your “right fit” (i.e., you did your homework and you want to work here).

Conduct your research as a competitive intelligence analyst. Amass everything you can find about the company and interviewers from the Internet, libraries, and word of mouth. Search on industry trends, recent decisions, and core products or services.

Great sources of information about the company itself are annual reports, press releases, and articles. Identify at least three of the company’s competitors and perform similar research about them as well. Great sources of information about the interviewers are their biographies, LinkedIn profiles, presentations or interviews they have given, blog postings, and tweets. Be sure to mix in some research on their personal side such as education and hobbies.

PROMISE A BETTER TOMORROWTM

Make your audience understand that, by hiring you, you are going to help them build a better future. Companies hire potential. They will hire you for your potential to make a major impact on their business. For example, you will grow the company’s revenue, increase market awareness, and improve brand recognition. Isn’t this why you are being considered? Your answer sets the framework for everything else you communicate in the interview. Above all, avoid reciting your chronological biography.

Your answer should pique your interviewer’s interest. It is an executive summary of your relevant professional and personal accomplishments. Donald and the entire interviewing team are thinking, “Will you be able to repeat and exceed your successes for us?”

Start with a powerful headline. Think about it: in any advertisement or article, a juicy headline is what draws the audience in. Elmer Wheeler, father of the mantra “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle,” observed, “Your first 10 words are more important than your next 10,000.”

What is your headline? Some examples include “I have been building great brands for 25 years,” “I have a track record of improving revenue dramatically,” and “I have positioned two start-up companies for explosive growth.” For more details on crafting your headline, your Better Tomorrow MessageTM, read “How to Write a Resume Summary That Gets Screams ‘Schedule an Interview with Me Today!‘”

CUSTOMIZE, ALWAYS

Customize your answer for each position and each company. Each company is different. Each position is different. Keep your answer consistent with the other elements of your professional image (e.g., resume and LinkedIn profile). If your interviews are not leading to job offers, it is time to tweak your answer. Be methodical. Write and rewrite. A fresh perspective is often helpful. Seek out mentors, friends, and colleagues for their frank feedback. Next time you are asked, “Tell me about yourself,” how will you respond?

Photography Source:  iStock

Ira Koretsky

About Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, trainer, consultant, and executive communication coach.