Sunday, January 3, 2016

The hardest part of the interview: "Tell me a little bit about yourself"...and I really mean a little.

Happy New Year! I know so many people have goals and resolutions of finding a new job in 2016. I wanted to give everyone some tips on how to make yourself memorable at the very beginning of your next interview.
In all of my years of interview coaching, one of the most dreaded times in the interview process is when the interviewer makes this simple request: "Tell me a little bit about yourself." People either find their minds going blank, or they find their minds racing with all of the possible things they could share about themselves because it is such a broad request. But here is the truth, this request is simply an ice breaker. So take off the massive pressure you put on yourself to tell them everything you think they want to hear. "Tell me a little bit about yourself" is simply a polite way for the interviewer to start the conversation before getting into the formal interview questions. And here is the exciting get to treat it as an ice breaker, which means you get to share the highlights about yourself that you choose.
I encourage my clients to use this opportunity to build awesome and memorable rapport. Most people forget that the people conducting the interviews are just like us...human. If we are full of passion and joy, it will be contagious to them. You know how it is when you are telling someone a story you are really excited about. When you are smiling and shaking your head yes, the person listening to you starts smiling and shaking their head yes as well, without even realizing it. That is the kind of energy we want to create in an interview. This is an opportunity for you to share your passion for what you do and have to offer, as well as your excitement about the opportunity to work with them. Is there a particular achievement you are proud of? Or maybe there is a unique reason that you do the work you do? Or do you possibly have an interesting career path that has brought you to this moment? When someone says "Tell me a little bit about yourself", you want to honor the request and share just a little about yourself. If they want more information...they will ask. They did not ask you to walk them through your resume, or highlight every achievement and award you've been given. They simply asked to hear a little about you. So make this time count. Pick two or three things that you want to share and make sure they are things that you feel great about. When you talk about things that you are passionate about, your presence will naturally draw the interviewer in. Everyone connects with passion and happiness, this is a powerful way to start your interview. Here are a few things to consider:
  • What do you love most about your job?
  • Why are you great at your job?
  • What inspired you to choose your type of work?
  • What inspired you to pursue this opportunity? (the position you are interviewing for)
  • What do you love about the company you are pursuing?
  • What are you known for with your current job/customers?
  • Why is this position the perfect next step for you? (the position you are interviewing for)
  • What has been the most exciting part of your career?
  • What is something in your career you are particularly proud of?
  • When do you think you have made the biggest difference in your career?
  • What makes you different from other people in your type of work?
Imagine the difference someone hearing these types of things versus hearing a rundown of someone's resume/past would feel. I have seen time and time again someone totally lose the interviewer's attention when they go on and on about their chronological career path. The fact is most people are totally boring when responding to this request. They feel pressure to share everything they have done when responding to this request. But the reality is that the interviewer has your resume in front of them, they know your history, it is why you were qualified to be invited in for an interview. Unless they specifically ask you to walk them through your resume, don't miss this opportunity for real connection.  Passion and excitement are totally engaging and totally contagious. Give your interviewer the opportunity to see the real you, and to get excited and intrigued to hear more about you. Pick two or three things to share and set the tone for an awesome interview with real connection and rapport. It really is that easy.
It's time to get excited about you and what you can create in 2016!!