Tough Interview Questions: How to Answer, Tell Me About Yourself
I worked in the search industry for many years. I think the second person I ever interviewed taught me how to mangle this question and almost drove me out of the field by speaking continuously for more than ten minutes. To understand how to answer questions on an interview, you need to remember that you are not meeting a friend for lunch but being evaluated and assessed for how you fit into an organization.
Therefore, to answer this and any other question in an interview, you need to target your answer on what they care about. That assumes that you know what they are looking for in the way of skills in order to target your answer. Keep your answer to no more than 1 minute and 15 seconds unless you are a skillful and interesting speaker in which case you can extend your answer to one minute and 30 seconds, all targeted toward confirming the basic information that caused you to get the interview.
DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT SPEAK LONGER THAN THAT BECAUSE THEY WILL STOP LISTENING.
For example, for a company that might be trying to fill a hedge fund accounting position, your answer might be something like, “I’ve been in the accounting field for five years with the last three years in hedge fund accounting where I’m responsible for calculating the NAV for 5 hedge funds and ___________. Before that, I worked with so and so where I did this and that.
If you know my advice about asking about the job at the beginning of the interview before they start asking you questions, you can then proceed by saying, “But what’s probably most relevant in my background for this role is my experience with . . . “ Then connect the dots between what they just told you they were looking for and what you’ve done.
Remember: Keep your answer succinct because, in that amount of time, you will confirm the basic information that caused you to get the interview, give them an outline for following up that will allow you to anticipate their follow-up questions and prepare to answer them, plus you will keep the interview interactive, interesting and flowing.
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