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Job Interviews: Nail the "Tell Me About Yourself" question!

Don't screw this one up.  It's often the first question in a job interview and it sets the tone for the entire interview.  You can either bore or engage the employer.

First, the overall goal in interviewing is to transform job interviews into normal conversations.  I recommend using a strategy used by many good conversationalists:  give a menu of topics. 

How so?  At a party, I might help someone talk to me by giving them a few topics to get the conversation started.

"It's been quite a week. I'm doing an interesting social media project at work, that big windstorm dropped a tree on my mother's garage, we just saw that great new movie, and my kid got a major part in the school play." 

Do the same thing in an interview, but do it strategically.  Your menu is about how you provide value to employers. Your menu is the things you do best—succinctly stated in short phrases so there is a clear list.  Here's how this might work:

Step 1:  Give a Menu

After a short lead-in about your background, you might say, "some of the things that employers have most appreciated about me are my abilities t

★·Manage projects with global cross functional teams
★ Research symptoms to find and fix root problems
★ Ensure everyone has the information they need to do their jobs
★ Bridge the communication gap between technical and business people

An added benefit:  many hiring decision makers have no training in conducting job interviews.  You can help them focus do a better job, steering them to what's most important.

Step 2  Ask what they would like to hear about

Next, ask them, "What would you like to hear about?" Or "Which of these is most interesting?"  Just like in a normal conversation, you Don't want to just start talking at someone.  Instead, tailor what you say to their interests. This also wakes them up. Sometimes employers are ask the tell me about yourself question, then start thinking about lunch while the candidate goes on and on about their background.  Asking a question forces them to pay attention.

Step 3  Tell a Story

Come prepared with a number of short, well-crafted PAR (problem/action/results) stories that you can use to illustrate your menu items.  These PAR stories show you at your best.  Stories should be about one minute. you're walking a fine line between not giving the person enough information to understand what you did and boring them with too much information.  If they're intrigued, they'll ask you to elaborate. 

Caution:  if you're in a technical field, be prepared to tell what you do in plain, non-technical language.  Don't lose the interview by assaulting some Human Resources person with your technical jargon, leaving them with eyes glazed over. 

Step 4 Ask a question

Next, ask a broad-brush question to get the employer talking.  Good salespeople Don't talk your ear off; they listen to what your needs are.  Find out what the employer really wants.

How would that (the menu item they asked about) be useful here?

How satisfied are you with what's going on in your department now?

How would you like to improve the department? 

What would you want me to accomplish in the first six months?

you've just laid a solid foundation for your job interview.

If you can't afford to let a great opportunity slip through your fingers, let me help you prepare:
847 673 0339



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