How to Answer Interview Questions–Tell Me About Yourself


Public Speaking vs. Job Interviews

The number one fear among Americans is public speaking, beating out fear of death by a solid margin. Now, i’m not a huge fan of throwing around dubious facts, but I think that one is pretty accurate, and very telling.

Its extremely nerve racking when you’re the subject of scrutiny, standing up there with dozens, hundreds, thousands of critical eyes just waiting for you to stumble.

When you really think about it though, whats the worst thing that can happen? You look nervous and awkward? Big deal, most people do. You freeze? Ohh well, it may be horrifying for a handful of seconds or so, but no permanent damage done.

Overcome Your Pride!

So when it really comes down to it, usually the only thing at risk when speaking publicly is taking a shot to your pride. Therefore, I think if most people were to really sit down and think about it, job interviews would probably show up right at the top of the list for “top fears for Americans,” giving public speaking a solid run for its money.

This is because with job interviews, not only is your pride at risk, so is your livelihood. And although you don’t have a bunch of critical eyes burning through you like x-rays, the two eyes of your potential future employer can easily feel like millions of probing eyes.

With a little practice and planning, however,  the ohhh so dreaded job interview can become a piece of cake, and dare i say……….. even fun?

Preparation Preparation Preparation:

For every job interview the questions will be  different, your answers will be different, the person interviewing you will be different, even your pump up music in the car will probably be different. That is why for each individual interview, you should do as much research before hand as possibleso you can make an educated guess about what questions they may ask you.

This can be difficult, but the more potential questions you tumble around in your head the better. Also, make sure to say your answers out loud as well, and maybe write them down too, after all, often times the voices in your head sound much less melodious, and make a lot less since, once spoken.  Practice in front of the mirror, in front of family and friends, even some random people in the park if your feeling up to it. If not, dogs are often good listeners too, and much less skeptical, most of the time.

Before entering your interview, the most important thing YOU HAVE TO DO is figure out what specific unique value you  bring to the company. That unique value should be driven home in nearly every question you answer during the interview. In short, you have to make your personal brand utterly apparent, which means a little soul searching may also be in order. After all, if you do not have a solid grasp on what your personal brand is, your unique value, the thing you WILL do better than anyone else, how are these potential employers ever going to recognize it?

How to Answer Interview Questions:

Although every interview is different, there are still  a few generic questions you’re likely to be asked in nearly any interview and having these interview questions down cold is absolutely essential.

So here it is, some of the most common interview questions.

1. So, Tell Me a Little About Yourself.

This is the classic conversation starter. Seems like answering this interview question wrong is near impossible, but many people get so caught up in the nervousness and excitement of the moment that they start rambling out their life story. Stick to the basics here and provide relevant facts about your education, your career,  and your current life situation. This is also a good launching point to make your unique value clear by highlighting some of your passions that fit snugly into the job.

2.What relevant experience do you have?

If you are applying for the job, hopefully you have loads of relevant experience and therefore this interview question should be easy. However, if you are switching careers or trying something new, a little creative honesty is in order. Even if your experience doesn’t initially look like its matching up, many of the skills you learn at any job can be applied in nearly every setting. People skills are people skills wherever you are, just take some time to think about every minute thing you have ever done in your life, and with a little creativity, the right connections can be made and the relevant experience will become apparent.

3. Why Should I Hire You?

Because you are the best person for the job of course! This is a perfect time to highlight your relevant passions and personal brand. There will inevitably be other good candidates, maybe even more experienced and better “qualified” (on paper). Passion can trump all though, and if you make your passion and excitement for you’re work shine through, you’re chances of landing that dream job go through the roof. Use very specific examples here like personal projects you’ve done outside of work, after all, anyone can say “I just love doing this! It makes me tingly inside!”

4. Do You Like Working Alone or With  a Team?

For this interview question, the safe bet is always going with the team. Don’t settle for the simple “I am definitely a team player” either, provide some examples of teams you have worked on, the synergy that developed in the team, and how larger goals were met through cooperation. Also be prepared to answer questions about the role you usually play within a team and how you have handled team conflicts in the past.

5. Whats Your Biggest Weakness?

Many people think the best way to slide out of this interview question is by taking a strength and presenting it as a weakness. Something like “I’m a total workaholic” or “I’m a bit of a perfectionist.” This isn’t the best way to go. When answering this interview question, it is best to be honest, but at the same time not so honest as to shoot yourself in the foot. Use a real weakness that you are actively working on improving, such as “Sometimes I get so consumed by the specifics of a project that i lose track of the bigger picture, that’s why i take the time now to create a comprehensive outline and overall goal before attacking any project.”

There you Have it, How to Answer Interview Questions (a few of the big ones at least)

These are meant to get those creative juices flowing and provide a launching point for your interview preparation process. For more info on rocking the socks off interviewees, check out some of our other posts:

Interview Preparation Guide

43 Tips Before, During, and After the Interview

How to Ace Any Type of Interview

 

  • Odelle I completely agree with you, first impressions are everything! This is a complete stranger who hasn't known you for your entire life, so any joke or jibe may send off the wrong single. This is for a job that you are interested in so there is no need to put down others or have anything negative to say. If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all.

    Having been on both sides of the conversation, you will be amazed what people will say behind closed doors about small little things that you have said or hinted at. Body language is also another huge factor but a story for another post 🙂

  • Trace Cohen

    Odelle I completely agree with you, first impressions are everything! This is a complete stranger who hasn't known you for your entire life, so any joke or jibe may send off the wrong single. This is for a job that you are interested in so there is no need to put down others or have anything negative to say. If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all.

    Having been on both sides of the conversation, you will be amazed what people will say behind closed doors about small little things that you have said or hinted at. Body language is also another huge factor but a story for another post 🙂