Tell me about yourself. This simple sentence strikes fear in the heart of a candidate. It is so vague and leaves little guidance for where to begin. It likely ranks as one of the worst questions to ask in an interview. Yet, recruiters seem to love leading with it.
The answer given tends to be really messy. Candidates start rambling about their personal life and talk more about what they want versus who they are. The only value a recruiter will get is if the candidate slips up and shares something that knocks them entirely out of the running. Not a great place to be sitting.
So what do you do if a recruiter asks this question? How do you keep from sticking your foot in your mouth? You plan.
As a candidate, this question can give you a lot of control. You have the ability to take the recruiter where you want them to go. It is the perfect opening to let you dive right into telling your story and making an impression. So where do you begin?
It takes preparation and practice!
You've heard of an elevator pitch? Consider this your resume pitch. It is your opportunity to boost their interest in you as a candidate. Essentially you need to take 20-30 seconds and tell them what you are all about and why you are unique.
To begin putting your pitch together, identify your greatest assets. Do you have any life lessons you learned as a child that influence your decisions today? Write a list of your professional accomplishments. What is it that you want them to know or remember about you? Why are you here interviewing for this role?
Start your pitch with your why. Why did you choose this field? Talk about what you are most passionate about and how it led you here. Work in a couple of your most proud accomplishments that really demonstrate your why. This sets you apart from everyone else in the field. This is what you bring to the table for the job they want to fill.
Mine would sound like this: Hospitality always appealed to me. What I learned was I am most passionate about helping people, so human resources felt like a natural fit. Seeing people grow in their career and build confidence in their skill set lit a fire inside of me. I wanted to be a part of helping make that happen.
During my time at Caesars Entertainment, I was asked to build an undergraduate recruiting program. It gave me an opportunity to identify high potential college graduates and place them in the first job of their career. The development programs we built helped them learn and grow. I loved seeing them flourish and really come into their own.
When I moved over to Wyndham, I was able to turn helping people into developing people. I had a team that counted on me for support, leadership, transparency, and encouragement. It took my passion to a new level. Not only were 2 of them promoted during my tenure, the rest grew in other ways as we found opportunities to increase their exposure and provide additional responsibilities.
Then tell them why you feel their vacancy is the perfect next step for you.
Practice your response. Literally say it out loud in front of a mirror. Video tape your response and watch it back. You need to tell it in a way that sounds natural. Memorize it and get comfortable with it. That's how you nail this question.
In an interview, avoid anything that isn't job related. Touch on the things you want to make sure they hear during the interview. Learn how to take control and lead the recruiter in the direction that shows you are a great candidate for their job.