How do you answer the question: “Tell me about yourself?” This seems like a simple question but many interview candidates lose the opportunity to maximize this question.

Katie has asked this question in thousands of interviews and it is her favorite question because it told her so much about a candidate. She could get a glimpse into their communication skills, insight into what they actually did throughout their career, and how they thought about it. Also, when you ask this question, you get at a sense of how self-aware the candidate is.

“Start off with the really important stuff. Tell me that you are what I’m looking for, and then tell me, you can tell me where you started your career.” – Katie

Focus on good transitions
Your job is to help the interviewer make sense of the changes you’ve made in your career path. Focus on your accomplishments, not your abilities. Your path may not have been a linear journey, but you can focus on what you learned and how it propelled your career forward, and always end this section with “I’m here today because,” and then tell the interviewer how your skills and experience that you’ve gained throughout your career make you the perfect fit for the job that you’re interviewing for.

Keep it brief
Practice a 30-second version and a 90-second version of your answer to this question. You can use the 30-second version for networking and the 90-second version for an interview setting.

Practice your pitch by recording yourself on your phone or recording yourself on video. Find someone who can give you feedback to practice your pitch with as well. You don’t want to be so professional that you’re not enthusiastic.

Don’t apologize for any of the career moves you’ve made. Own every career move you’ve made, especially the ones where you decided to step out of your career. Mention it as part of your story and move on.

As you go into your interview, know what this company values and work into your answer some things that will indicate to them that you value the same things.

Use bullet point points for structure as you answer interview questions.
Here is an example of how using bullet points when speaking help you communicate clearly during an interview. Why do you want to work at this company? I want to work here for three reasons, number one (your answer) number 2 (your answer) and finally number 3 (your answer).

Here is my absolute favorite strategy for answering interview questions. It’s the PAR technique.
This technique involves using a Problem, Action, and Result to specifically address a question that has been asked. This is a very effective technique for any time you are asked a question that begins with “Tell me about a time when…”

There are five different sections of common interview questions.
1. Skills – they are looking to understand if you have the skills for the role.
2. Teamwork –  are you the kind of person they want on their team.
3. Communication – evaluated throughout the interview.
4. Values and motivation – what makes you tick?
5. Work ethic – people want to hire people who will get stuff done.

What if you are asked an inappropriate question in an interview? Respond like this: “This is a question I haven’t gotten before, why do you ask?” That way, asking a question in response to that question, we’ll put the onus back on your interviewer to really think deeply about why it is they’re asking that question and where they want to go from there.

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