By: Cheryl Stewart
One question you should NEVER answer immediately during an interview is, “Tell me a little about yourself.” Most job seekers are surprised when they first hear this, but there is a very good reason for this advice.
When you are interviewing and the interviewer asks you to talk about yourself, your first instinct will be to answer immediately and to do your best to sell your skills. That is why you are there. However, if you try to sell yourself before you find out what the employer is buying, you will lose that job opportunity. Why? Because, if you are selling your organizational skills and ability to work independently, but the employer needs a team player with a cheerful personality, you will unknowingly fail the interview.
Each question asked during a job interview is designed to determine how closely your skills match the qualifications needed by the employer. You read their job description, so you THINK you know what the employer wants. Truth is, you don’t have the full story, and the interviewer isn’t going to reveal it unless you ask.
The job is open for a reason. Maybe the last person in that job was habitually late for work or didn’t get along with the rest of the staff. Maybe he couldn’t meet critical deadlines. The job description may have stated the employer was looking for computer skills. You are being interviewed because you have the skills listed in the ad, HOWEVER, the former employee probably also had most of the needed skills. So why is the job open? You must find out.
There is always a job requirement the employer is seeking in a new hire and the interviewer will not volunteer this information. The interviewer will, however, disclose this information, if you ask in the right way.
How to Find Out What the Employer Really Wants
Most interviewers will give you some information about the job and ask you to talk about yourself. Ninety percent of job seekers will talk about themselves as soon as they are asked, and will literally talk themselves out of the job offer. If you make the mistake of talking about yourself before you know what the employer is really looking for in the person they want to hire, 9 times out of 10, you will miss the mark.
When to Talk About Yourself
When you are asked something like, “Tell me about yourself,” respond with, “Thank you. I’m here to do th at, but before I do, may I ask you a few more questions about the job?” Then ask the interviewer things like:
- “How many people would I be reporting to?”
- “What do you consider to be the most important aspect of this position?”
- “What do you see as the most important skills needed for this job?”
- “What type of a personality are you looking for in this
Listen to their answers, then say, “Thank you. Now that I understand a little more about the job, let me tell you about my skills.” NOW sell yourself! Tell them YOU are what THEY have just told you they need.