“So tell us a bit about yourself”
This is often the first question candidates will face in an interview and we guess that many candidates think this is an invitation to describe exactly what is on their CV, starting from the bottom and working up to the top.
We wish they wouldn’t – here’s why:
Not only is this approach incredibly boring for the interviewer (not a good impression) but it’s likely that when they finish the interviewer will still have no idea who the candidate is, which will force them to think, “Gee, I’ll need to find another way to ask that question.”
So if you take this approach not only are you wasting the interviewer’s time but you’re wasting your own opportunity to make a good initial impression.
How then should you introduce yourself?
First you need to write a short summary of yourself.
A lot of candidates have summaries at the top of their CVs and many of them look like this:
- Over 10 years professional experience in education industry with top education companies including (a famous company) and around 2 years experience working overseas.
- Professional experiences that are focused on project management and business development in the education industry.
- Excellent leadership skills; good at motivating and training the team; and good at working across functions in an organisation.
- Organized and able to think problems through; pro-active person with a can-do attitude
- Good presentation and analytical skills
- A wide array and depth of resources in education industry.
Having created this summary for her CV our candidate can use this as the basis for her personal introduction. Here’s how she might sound in the interview after being asked that opening question:
“I have over 10 years experience working in the education industry including 5 years with (a famous company). I also worked for 2 years in Australia after I graduated from (an Australian university).
At (a famous company) I was responsible for managing a range of projects as well as new business development.
I also I led a small team of 2 staff and believe I developed excellent leadership skills. During that time I worked closely with colleagues in other departments, including those overseas, with which I feel I collaborated well and was able to motivate effectively through influencing and persuasion to achieve our collective goals.
I’m highly organised person; and a proactive problem solver. I like to think of myself as someone with a can-do attitude.
I think I’ve developed good presentation and analytical skills, which appear to be important for this role.
And I feel at this stage of my career I have a range of useful resources in the education industry, all of which I believe I can bring to your company and this role.”
That’s a lot more powerful introduction than just starting at the bottom of her CV and reading until she gets to the top.
And it’s full of key words all of which are designed to position her as a high value candidate. Here’s some of the key words:
Experience, new business development, leadership, collaborated, motivate, influencing, persuasion, collective goals, highly organised, problem solver, can-do, resources.
From the key words the interviewer gets to know very quickly what type of person they’re talking to and then gets a strong, positive reminder that she has the potential to bring all this value to the role and the organisation.
Then they can start going into her CV in more depth, asking questions about her particular experiences, about which she should have short and to the point examples of things she’s done, experienced or achieved that support those key words.
Don’t be under any illusions: getting prepared for an interview takes a lot of work but it’s worth it if you can get off to a good start in an interview with a strong statement describing who you are, why you’re good and what you can bring to the role and the organisation.
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