The classic job interview question, “Tell me about yourself and what you been doing professionally!”

They may not use those exact words but you are probably going to be asked a general open-ended question that will allow you to take the ball and the other run with it or trip yourself up.  To run with it, you need to be prepared with an answer that lasts about 30-45 seconds that speaks to the nature of the job that they’re trying to fill, as well as demonstrate that you can do it.

Here’s a typical answer to that question:

“Well, I’ve been in the field now for about (whatever the number of years is).  For the last 2 years, I’ve been working for so and so where I’ve done this and that and this and that.”  The “this and that” that you talk about is exactly what they’re looking for (or pretty darn close).  If they are trying to find a Java developer with certain skills, you tell them what you’ve done that relates to what you’re looking for.

You see, they’re not looking for some big overview.  They’re looking for someone who fits what they need to have done.

If you are an accountant, you might say something along the lines of, “I’ve been an accountant for the last five years.  For the past three years, I’ve been doing temporary assignments for different organizations where I have been involved with . . . ” Then talk about what you’ve done that relates to what you’re looking for.  It is that simple.

Once you give them this outline, once you’ve rehearsed it, instead of giving them an answer,” off the top of your head (You really should rehearse it), once you have rehearsed it, ask yourself, what follow up questions would you as to find out whether what you’ve done fits with what they’re looking for?  Once you have that in mind, you can be prepared with your follow-up answers to their follow-up questions. 

But most people go into interviews completely unprepared.  They think they can just walk in and answer off-the-cuff (and they can, just well) but they are not going to get hired.

My encouragement to you is to prepare for the 1st 10 minutes of the interview as some variation on the question, “Tell me about yourself,” where you talk about what you’ve done. 

REMEMBER: They want to find out what you’ve done in the context of what they are looking for.  They are also going to ask you follow-up questions that you can also be prepared for.

Keep your answers to about 30-45 seconds in length. 

Why?

No one wants to listen to you droning on and on and on and on and on and bring them to tears until they are left thinking about something else that they would rather be doing. 

You want to be giving your answers in 30 to 45 seconds in length so that the conversation becomes interactive.  You want them to listen to you and engage them so that the interviewer and you are going back and forth during this stage of the interview.

Again, this is a very simple question to answer if you have taken the time to prepare.

The classic job interview question, “Tell me about yourself and what you been doing professionally!”

They may not use those exact words but you are probably going to be asked a general open-ended question that will allow you to take the ball and the other run with it or trip yourself up.  To run with it, you need to be prepared with an answer that lasts about 30-45 seconds that speaks to the nature of the job that they’re trying to fill, as well as demonstrate that you can do it.

Here’s a typical answer to that question:

“Well, I’ve been in the field now for about (whatever the number of years is).  For the last 2 years, I’ve been working for so and so where I’ve done this and that and this and that.”  The “this and that” that you talk about is exactly what they’re looking for (or pretty darn close).  If they are trying to find a Java developer with certain skills, you tell them what you’ve done that relates to what you’re looking for.

You see, they’re not looking for some big overview.  They’re looking for someone who fits what they need to have done.

If you are an accountant, you might say something along the lines of, “I’ve been an accountant for the last five years.  For the past three years, I’ve been doing temporary assignments for different organizations where I have been involved with . . . ” Then talk about what you’ve done that relates to what you’re looking for.  It is that simple.

Once you give them this outline, once you’ve rehearsed it, instead of giving them an answer,” off the top of your head (You really should rehearse it), once you have rehearsed it, ask yourself, what follow up questions would you as to find out whether what you’ve done fits with what they’re looking for?  Once you have that in mind, you can be prepared with your follow-up answers to their follow-up questions. 

But most people go into interviews completely unprepared.  They think they can just walk in and answer off-the-cuff (and they can, just well) but they are not going to get hired.

My encouragement to you is to prepare for the 1st 10 minutes of the interview as some variation on the question, “Tell me about yourself,” where you talk about what you’ve done. 

REMEMBER: They want to find out what you’ve done in the context of what they are looking for.  They are also going to ask you follow-up questions that you can also be prepared for.

Keep your answers to about 30-45 seconds in length. 

Why?

No one wants to listen to you droning on and on and on and on and on and bring them to tears until they are left thinking about something else that they would rather be doing. 

You want to be giving your answers in 30 to 45 seconds in length so that the conversation becomes interactive.  You want them to listen to you and engage them so that the interviewer and you are going back and forth during this stage of the interview.

 

Again, this is a very simple question to answer if you have taken the time to prepare.

 

ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER

JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes and “The No BS Coaching Advice Podcast” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was named a Top 10 podcast for job search. JobSearchTV.com is also a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a free Discovery call.

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