You’re going in for an interview. You’re excited, hopeful. This could be a great position and fit for you. Shake hands, sit down. And then the interviewer asks you, “So, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?”
This is almost the worst question that you could be asked. It’s up there with “What is your greatest weakness?” in most uncomfortable to answer.
Here is our rundown on why it’s asked, what interviewers are actually looking for when they ask this awful question, and how you should respond to it.
Why It’s Used
The question isn’t asked to make you uncomfortable or awkward, despite how it might feel. And let’s be honest – at this point, the interviewer probably doesn’t care about you like that.
It’s actually used to help break the ice and ease you into the interview process, as well as make you feel less nervous and more comfortable.
The best way to start a conversation is small talk, so this is how they’re doing it.
It’s also a good way to gauge just how comfortable you are sharing things about yourself, and how well you can hold a basic conversation, which is important in a lot of different workplaces. If you’re in sales or working with people, and you can’t answer this easily, they’re going to be concerned.
What Is The Best Way to Respond?
Some people go too far into their response, talking about their schooling, their past, their relationships, their family… unless you are interviewing for a beauty pageant or a deeply personal position, your interviewer will not care about these things.
On the flip side, they are also looking for more than a two-sentence response to this question. Simply saying I’m from the area and need a job is not enough to nail this.
Start with the present – where you currently work, your role, and your responsibilities or major recent accomplishments. Transition into past roles and touch on how previous experience would lend itself to the position you’re interviewing for. And finally, touch on what you want to do next and where you see yourself in the future – this is a great place to slide in why you would be perfect for their position without being too obvious about it.
This is a great standard answer. Feel free to shake up the past and present if you think a story about a previous employer would make sense, but overall if you stick to these talking points, you’re going to nail the question.
Remember when you’re answering that they already have your resume. They have your bio, your work history, and all the ‘major’ points. This is your first opportunity within the interview to dig deeper and really let them discover more about you.
Why Does It Matter?
You might be asking, why does it matter what I say to this question anyway? They have your resume in front of them, why do they need you to talk more about it?
Well, ultimately this is the companies first real impression of you. The interviewer is going to base his likes and dislikes of you initially off of this question, so it is actually very important that you have a good answer for it and impress them.
First impressions matter. They had one when they looked at your resume, one when they shook your hand, and this is the first real one that will stick with them throughout the interview process. So make sure you give this question the consideration it deserves!