You sit down nervously, the interviewer poised across the table from you. Then she asks, “Tell me about yourself.”
This is a common start to any meeting or interview, and you need to have your best answer nailed down and ready to go. Whatever you do say, you are trying to sell yourself in just one or two sentences. You should sound confident, engaging, and of course speak clearly.
But what do you say? What are the key elements of your self introduction? You should aim to:
Define who you are in one or two sentences
Entice the listener with 2 or 3
“Wow!” stories, and create a
Make the listener want to ask more about what you told them.
Speak clearly and eliminate “filler” sounds like “erm”, “like”, “ah”, “yeah, ok so…” (or the equivalent in your own language).
Stick to about 30 seconds, and no more than 45.
Write a script. Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to rehearse by yourself, or even better, with someone you trust. Beyond the traditional method of standing in front of the mirror, we are blessed to have great smart devices with recording apps, so it’s easy to listen back. Remember also that these days, you can jump on a Zoom call with your trusted advisor and make a recording so that you can review your efforts later. Whatever you do to prepare, be sure that you know what you’re going to say so well that you don’t need to try to remember it. Your pitch should sound natural and it should come automatically. This should also help to cut out the unnecessary fillers I mentioned earlier. If you’re well prepared and you know what you’re going to say, there will naturally be less hesitation.
How do you define who you are in one or two sentences?
Here you’re trying to hone in on the key details that will hook the interviewer in. Make sure you use powerful language to grab the listener’s attention.
What will you say about who you are that will capture the interviewer’s attention? How about these?
I’m a project manager with 5 years experience leading complex projects and delivering excellent results.
I’m an accounting manager with extensive experience of ERP implementation. In my current role I facilitated the implementation of Oracle to improve company reporting processes.
I’m a trainer with 8 years of experience leading in-person and online sessions to 100s of HR professionals.
What’s a wow story?
A wow story is an episode from your career that demonstrates your abilities as an expert in your field. Think hard about this - consider everything you’ve done and recall the moments that made you proud. Write down a few, and then select the best 3. What can you be proud of? Have you managed a project from start to finish? Have you been a keynote speaker at an industry event? How have you boosted income or reduced costs? How many people have you managed?
Here, you are making avalue proposition.This is how you’re going to draw the interviewer in to convince her that you are the right person for the job. You’re showing that you will be a great cultural fit, and that you will either make the company money, or reduce costs. Here are some examples:
“In my 2nd year as a junior accountant, I was tasked with mentoring 3 new interns, supporting their development.”
“In my last position I led a team of 8 who boosted sales by 15%.”
“I presented the company’s medium term business plan at our APAC conference in 2018.”
“In my time as a team leader, profits grew by 10% and we increased our headcount by 3 new members.”
Now, what’s your answer to this question? What are you going to say the next time you sit down in an interview? What are your wow stories and your value proposition? Draft, write, rewrite, and rehearse your pitch. Make it sound like gold.
Best of luck and happy interviewing!