Being the first Question, it offers a huge opportunity for you as a candidate to set the tone of the interview and influence the outcome resulting in you coming out a winner.
The most common response by candidates to “Tell me something about yourself? ” is to elaborate one’s educational background, broad work experience and at times a few personality traits.
While that is useful information, most of the times candidates end up repeating what is mentioned in their Resume/Profile and mentioning about their background in general. Being broad is dead; customisation is key. Let me share below a few simple tips which would help you focus your response, find the connect immediately and enhance your chances of getting the job.
1] What does the interviewer want to know?
Let us first understand why is the interviewer asking this Question? There is only one core objective. He/She is wanting to know “How do you add value to the job and organization and how are you different than other competing candidates?”. So your response has to be related to the requirement of the job.
2] Study the pain points:
You need to do your homework in advance and study the company’s market standing, the current challenges it is facing in terms of its products/services ( pain points). Please remember that the company hires you to solve problems otherwise a managerial job would not exist.
3] Spend time in understanding the job description:
Study the Job description and make a list of the key result areas required to do the job successfully. What are the key skills/experience required to be an outstanding performer?
4]Match Making :
Divide a page with a line in centre. List down key skills/experience required to do the job on the left-hand side of a page and on the opposite side, write down the list of your matching key skills and the experience ( with focus on achievements) that you have gained (as demonstrated below).
5]Catchy phrases :
Start by telling the interviewer some attention-catching statements like “ I have an outstanding track record in new Business development which I understand is one of the key requirement of this job”……and then you may continue by saying … and there are success stories I can share with you. Next, move on to the other key skill or expertise required and similarly highlight that aspect from your background. No need to elaborate at this stage ( unless asked to do so).You are only setting the tone for the rest of the interview.
6] Personality that attracts :
Certain personality traits which add value to the job, for example, being patient, disciplined, a go-getter attitude, quick learner, flexible can be shared.
The point is that while responding, one needs to focus not on those general qualities/experience but those which are relevant for the job. Depending upon what the interviewer asks next, you may elaborate.
If you have come up with interesting points which address the pain points of the job, you will come across as a solution provider and the interviewer will be compelled to ask for more stories on how you went about achieving the task. And they would ask you to relate it to the job you are being interviewed for. Which then makes your discussion engaging and also you are then a great influencer of the outcome increasing your chances of getting selected.
And please do remember that there is no single answer to the Question and you have to customise your response for every interview. So for 8 different interviews, 8 different responses to the same Question need to be worked out.
I would be happy to assist by answering any questions which may have ( please put them in comments below).