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By Lilian Wamaitha
Tell me about yourself” is the hardest question in any interview which is weird because anything to do with you should be the easiest to talk about, right?
However, the vague nature of the question leaves anyone wondering what exactly they should be saying in an interview.
Do you talk about your hobbies? Does the interviewer want you education history or where you have worked?
It is only when you are hit with this question the very moment you enter an interview room do you realize just how difficult it is.
In this article, I will cover the right and wrong way to answer this common interview question and then you can see where you are going wrong and why most of the time you fail that interview before it ends.
The wrong way you can answer this question
Before we dig any deeper into this topic; have this in mind; the way you answer this question will set the tone for the rest of the interview.
And the wrong answer will kill the interview before it even begins.
Here is where you get it wrong;
1. “What do you mean?”
Never ask an interviewer what they mean when they ask you this question in an interview.
For one, when you say “what do you mean” it may imply that you are hiding something and two; you are not able to think outside the box.
Asking “what do you mean” is just the same as telling them “I don’t know.”
They are looking for information that relates to the job in question and you getting it right at this stage could mean progressing to the next level.
2. Anything personal
Yes your friend think that your baby is cute and that you a great dad, but the employer has no business with your personal life.
They are more interested in whether you are the right fit for the job than you parental qualities,
Also saying things like “I am the first born” has no bearing on the outcome of the interview, except send you straight to the reject pile.
5. “I am looking for a job in a company that can help me grow”
Here is the brutal truth; if you are looking for a company to help you grow you are not going to find any. Growth stems from you and the company is not liable for that.
A lot of employers find this answer as a deal breaker hence the reason you should steer clear of it.
Focus instead on your seminaries – what you have achieved and what the company has achieved.
For instance; “Over the past five years, I have helped clients build better solutions, increased company earnings and developed rapport with many experts in the industry. Considering [company’s similar achievements], I believe my growth can be parallel to the company’s achievements.”
4. “I worked in marketing”
The reason why “tell me about yourself” question exists is because the employer wants to know about your work history.
Just giving a general and short answer like “I worked in marketing” or “I have been a graphic designer” just doesn’t cut it.
Delve deeper into your main roles that relate to the job you are interviewing for, the skills you learnt and how that experience has prepared you for a role just like the one you are interviewing for.
The right way to answer “tell me about yourself” in an interview
When answering “tell me about yourself” you want to come out as someone who knows what they are talking about.
1. Mention your names
Mention your official names. This is not the time to mention your nicknames and that’s it.
2. Your educational background
Start by highlighting your education qualifications which relates to the position you are applying for. Talk about where and when you studied and how the experience led you to the current profession.
3. Your related career history
The interviewer is also interested in knowing your work history. When responding to this question, mention only the relevant working experience and position which is directly related to the job you are applying for.
Give a brief summary of your specific career achievements and how it will be of benefit to your potential employer.
In short, your response should explain how your pasts skills relates to the present position you are interested in.
4. Your future career prospects
In this segment, you are supposed to explain to the interviewer why you applied for that position and how it best fits you.
Explain what you would hope to achieve in your career if offered a new position. Again take note that your explanation has to be relevant to the position you are interviewed for.
The perfect answers to “tell me about yourself”
Example #1
“I’m a proactive Customer Service Assistant with 4 years of experience handling various functions of Customer service, from dealing with dissatisfied customers to answering phone calls. In my current position at company X, I have developed and utilized various skills to help achieve results and contribute to the company’s productivity.
I have also won several awards for my exceptional performance in solving customer problems and forming new customer relations that resulted in a 20% increase in sales.
Although I love my job, I feel I am now ready for further growth in a more challenging role at a company that values customer relations, and this position meets those exact needs.”
Example #2
“My name is Mary Mutisya Otieno, I hold a degree in Business Administration and have attended several trainings on Customer Service Management.
I have been in the customer service industry for the past five years. My most recent experience has been handling incoming calls, receiving visitors, ensure the reception area is tidy, ensuring visitors feel welcomed and  smooth flow of communication.
One reason I particularly enjoy this industry, and the challenges that go along with it, is the opportunity to connect with people. In my last job, I formed some significant customer relationships resulting in a 30 percent increase in sales in a matter of months.”
My real strength is my attention to detail. I pride myself on my reputation for following through and meeting deadlines. When I commit to doing something, I make sure it gets done, and on time. I am now looking for a company that values customer relations, where I can join a strong team and have a positive impact on customer retention and sales.”
With this in mind
An interview is your chance to stand out so it is important you make a lasting impression. Use this question to sell yourself and show the interviewer that you are indeed right for the position. Highlight what you have that the job requires. This way you will have a better chance of landing the job.
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The writer is a Communication Officer at Corporate Staffing Services, a HR and Recruitment firm offering trainings, coaching and job placements.