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Tell Me About Yourself: What do You Say?

 |  By: Marion Schreiner, Financial Recruiter, Staffing Solutions

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What do you say when asked to "tell me about yourself?"

This common interview question can trip up the most accomplished executives.

So. . . is the interviewer really wanting to know about my employment history or something more personally memorable – like when I went skydiving? The answer: it depends!

Depending on the decision maker, they may want to know different things. Some may place a stronger focus on wanting to know about your experience and accomplishments to understand how you can affect their bottom line. They might want to know you’re a “hands-on manager,” the “go-to financial reporting expert,” etc.

Others may want to know about you personally to determine if you “fit” with the company’s culture. In this case, you will want to show more of your personality. Showing personality doesn’t mean you should give testimony of what happened in your life since birth! It could be sharing something about your hobbies, interests or goals.

The best way to answer is to ask, “personally or professionally? Where would you like to start?” Let the employer guide your response.

Either way, you need to think of the answer as your introduction or “elevator pitch.”  

  • Give yourself about 30 seconds to talk about who you are.
  • Craft an elevator pitch for both a personal and professional response.
  • It should be a very concise presentation of the personal and professional “you.”
  • The ideal response might be a short blend of the two.
  • Be careful not to be long-winded.
  • It’s important to show you can deliver a succinct message.
  • If you do not have a lot of experience, such as a new grad, talk about an academic accomplishment or an important internship project.

Take time to think about how you will answer this question the next time an interviewer asks you to talk about yourself – ensure your first impression is personable and professional.

Marion Schreiner has been recruiting accounting and finance consultants for more than fifteen years. She has a diversified client base including healthcare, service, manufacturing, entertainment, distribution, publishing, and financial services. Marion concentrates on providing experienced professionals for temporary assignments including system conversions, medical leaves, audit assistance and other special projects.