“Tell Me About Yourself?” - 5 Mistakes You MUST Avoid.

It is likely that your potential employer hasn't had the chance to review your resume thoroughly. So, your answer to “Tell Me About Yourself” is effectively your first professional introduction and sales pitch. If you answer successfully, you form a compelling first impression. 

Avoiding these #5 mistakes will make sure that you make a strong impression on your interviewer, leading to you getting the job of your dreams.

Mistake #1 - Failing to adapt your response to your potential employer 

This is the most impactful mistake that people make while answering this question. Intuitively most people come up with some sort of canned response about the career path they use for most interviews. This neglects the most fundamental principle of marketing, know your audience. 

Although your experience doesn’t change from interview to interview, the ones in interviewing you will do. If you are unsure what information would be the most appealing, you’re in luck. Look at the requirements in the job description, and craft your answer accordingly.

Tip - Always end with an explanation of what brings you here today. For example - Are you looking for more than in your past role? Position this employer as a unique solution. 

Mistake #2 - Repeating your resume 

While this topic prompts you to share your career highlights, it’s not advisable to regurgitate your resume job by job. This does not allow your potential employer to connect with you on a human level. You aren’t just trying to get the employer to buy into your experience, but you are trying to make them like you. Apply these golden rules -

  • Tell a condensed version of your professional story 
  • Focus on your accomplishments and tangible results.
  • Speak about your motivations and career aspirations.

Warning - If you find yourself saying, “Well if you have a copy of my resume..” you are in a danger zone. Instead, regroup and laser in on the relevant accomplishments to the job you are interviewing for. 

Mistake #3 - Giving a chronological life history  

While you want to tell a story to capture your interviewer's interest, keeping your response professional and relevant is critical. Instead of telling a chronological life history, force yourself to identify whether you have relevant reasons for sharing details about your earlier life. 

Recounting your earlier life story does not consider the employer’s goal of linking your past experiences to the company’s priorities. It’s fine to refer to your upbringing if it's relevant. For example, if you became a dental hygienist because your mom was a dentist. 

Warning - If your answer begins with “I was born in…” it’s a danger zone.

Mistake #4 - Talking about controversial topics or personal information 

This is in a similar vein as the last tip. While building rapport with a potential employer is useful, certain overly personal or controversial topics pose more risk than reward. You do want to connect on a personal level, so if asked, be prepared to sprinkle some personal color, such as hobbies you’re particularly passionate about. However, if the interviewer doesn’t ask this, it’s not worth mentioning hobbies in your initial response to this question. Especially when it comes to the cost of sharing other personal experiences or making your response too long. 

Religion, relationships, politics, health, and even recent news stories should remain off the table. 

If you do slip up and mention some of these private details on controversial subjects, aim to connect them to the topic of your career and then quickly move on. 

Warning - Any answer that begins with “My home life was/is…” is a danger zone.

Mistake #5 - Rambling 

The goal of answering this question is to share your best pitch while seeming professional, confident, and at ease. Rambling can undermine the value of your response by making you seem more nervous than you are. It could overwhelm the interviewer with information to the extent that they lose the key thread of why you are a match for the position. 

Instead, take no more than 2-3 minutes to answer. If the recruiter wants to know more, they will ask you to expand. To achieve this, prepare a concise answer ahead of time. The goal here is not to create a word-to-word response that could sound scripted, and you could be thrown off the track if you miss a word. Instead, consider forming bullet points and recording yourself. Listening to what areas you need to improve helps develop a better response.

Kapital Data has been a pioneer in the Search Industry for the better part of the decade. For more information about our Talent services, you may check out our website and LinkedIn.

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