Unless you’re an extremely self-confident extrovert who loves chatting about yourself, there is probably one question in every interview that you dread.
You know, where the interviewer has your CV in front of them, scans through it, smiles and says: “So, can you tell us a bit about yourself?”
Fear and panic usually take over – what is it about you that is interesting? What makes you stand out? What kind of information are they looking for? What you do at the weekend? Are childhood anecdotes appropriate?
Rattling through where you studied and what your core skills are will sound like you’re just reciting your CV, so there’s no point in that. There’s nothing worse than drawing a complete blank and realising you’re the most boring person you’ve ever met.
Relax. Take a deep breath. There is
a way to answer this question successfully without sounding (a) boring and (b) conceited.
Here are three things you should never
do when telling your interviewer “a bit about yourself”.
Never rant about previous employers …
… Or anything else for that matter. You will come across as angry and negative – not the kind of impression you want to make. It seems obvious that you shouldn’t spend your time running down a former boss, but it is easy to fall in to that trap when you start recalling previous workplaces. It looks like you can’t control your emotions or temper if you resort to having a lengthy rant. In fact, unless the interviewer asks you directly to describe your previous employment, it might be best to steer clear.
Never dodge the question
It’s a bit of a politicians move: dancing around the question without actually providing a concrete answer. By all means, make sure your stories are engaging (and humorous, if you can get away with it) but they have to be relevant to the question. It’s all very well being entertaining but if that’s all you are, chances are an interviewer might not be keen. They’re asking about you -
not a rundown of the latest episode of Line of Duty
. Okay, you might be able to relate a particular box set to the working environment but you’d have to be pretty slick to get away with it.
Never tell them anything NSFW
(That’s Not Suitable For Work for those of you who aren’t up to speed with your acronyms.) Anything that blurs the line between professional and private is off limits. After all, this is a key chance to really sell yourself as in individual. Our advice is simple: There is a difference between saying you like socialising with friends to relaying information about the time you were so drunk you ended up crying in a gutter in the city centre covered in chips and your own sick.
And here’s something you absolutely should
There is no harm in writing out a brief paragraph about yourself and testing it out on friends or family to see what they think. It should encapsulate all the very best bits about you as a person and as a diligent employee. Listing all your achievements sounds boastful – it’s all about learning to frame them properly. Maybe your love of skincare products has lead you to start a successful blog; maybe you’ve run a marathon to showcase your dedication; or maybe you’ve learned to play a musical instrument or a new language.
However you decide to phrase it, be confident in yourself.
If you are fluent in languages such as Spanish, French, German or Dutch, I could help you take the next step in your career. I am highly experienced at placing multi-lingual candidates. Click here to drop me an email
and discuss how you can put your skills to use.