One of the first — and most difficult — questions that employers ask during an interview seems simple on the surface: “Tell me about yourself.” Your answer, however, can set the tone for the rest of the interview, so don’t dismiss this as a softball. By developing and practicing your personal narrative, you can take advantage of this early opportunity to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack.
Too much personal detail? You may reveal unnecessary information. Too little? Nothing distinguishes you from the next candidate. Brushing off the question? You’ve missed a valuable opportunity.
The following exercise is designed to help you answer the common first question, “Tell me about yourself.” Once you fill in the blanks, use the example below to practice your own answer. You can also download a PDF worksheet.
1. Write down three things about your history — who you are and where you came from.
2. Write down three things that make you unique, special or interesting (and how 1, 2, or 3 contributed to this).
3. Write down three reasons why you. are interested in and good for this position (given qualities in A, B, and C).
4. Pull it together: [1, 2, or 3] has made me [A,B, or C] which has led me to [1, II, or Ill].
“I grew up in Miami and was the oldest of five children. There was always so much noise at my house that I would spend a lot of time at my neighbor’s apartment. She was an elderly woman but even at a very young age, I enjoyed spending time with her and listening to her stories. I have always liked spending time with elderly people and relate well to them. That’s why I was excited about this position at the nursing home.”
Download this exercise as a PDF worksheet here.