Tell me about yourself

posted in: Job Doc Blog | 0

Q: I recently interviewed for a job with a very desirable company.  The first round of interviews was on Zoom.  Unfortunately, I think I failed one question.  I call it the worst interview question in the world.  It’s not even a question.   “Tell me about yourself.”  What does the interviewer want?  My life story?

A: This question is a golden opportunity.  You can turn into a sales pitch of why you are an outstanding candidate.  You should not review every detail of your background.  Think about your experience and skills, specifically which ones are most relevant for this particular role.  It is an opportunity to showcase your skills and experience and maybe reveal something memorable about you as a candidate.

Here is one sample response:

I am currently a Human Resources Manager for ABC Company.  I work with leaders at ABC Company on HR and people challenges, including developing and executing talent acquisition strategies, evaluating our compensation and benefits positions relative to our competitors, and creating policies with the goal of attracting the retaining our human capital. Currently, I am working extensively on our firm’s compliance with the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act and a range of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goals.  Our company turnover has been 7% annually, which is well below the industry average.  I manage a small team of employees and contractors.  I have about 10 years of experience in biotech, pharma, and medical devices.  When I reviewed the HR Business Partner role with your organization, I thought there was an overlap between my current role and the role you had posted.  As a native Bostonian, I am also a faithful Red Sox fan.

In this sample response above, I have shared what is most meaningful and relevant with the interviewer.  I didn’t recite an entire life story and I didn’t read every bullet from my resume.  Instead, I tried to highlight the most relevant skills and experience.  I also shared one personal piece of information, which hopefully makes me a memorable candidate, in a positive way.  One warning: when sharing a personal detail, be careful of discussing anything that could generate a debate or controversy.  Avoid topics like sex, religion, and politics.

Remember this question is an opportunity!  If you are well-prepared, you should be able to use this question to your advantage.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.