Those who go out on employment interviews will often be asked to describe both their professional and personal backgrounds. In addition to learning about an applicant’s work experience, the old “tell me about yourself” query is designed to bring out a person’s interactive skills. However, it may not be as easy to answer as it seems.

Answering the Question

Applicants should understand their time limits and the fact that others may be waiting in the wings. The applicant should be able to answer the question in only a couple of minutes. It could include some early history, such as how one seeking work as a mechanic used to closely watch others working on cars. However, such tales should be kept as short as possible and immediately transition to one’s current abilities and interests. Most of the answer should concentrate on the applicant’s work experience, with an emphasis on certain abilities or accomplishments. A good concluding statement would include what the applicant has to offer the specific firm or the position that is open.

Using the Correct Terms

The term “we” can be useful in showing that the applicant is ready and willing to fit into the existing team. “Leadership” or some variation of this word will indicate that the applicant has initiative and is willing to take control of situations. Words indicating a lack of experience in a particular area should be avoided or at least modified to indicate that the applicant has done similar things and can easily learn something new. “I’m a quick learner” is a simple statement that could cloud the issue and make it more difficult for the interviewer to understand the applicant’s actual skills. “I’ll do anything” is another potentially harmful term that may indicate desperation rather than flexibility.

How Appearance Matters

The delivery by an applicant is as important as the actual wording. Potential employees should not be afraid to use some passion in their presentation. Body language is also important, since a nervous appearance can create the impression that the applicant lacks confidence. Eye contact with the interviewer should be maintained throughout the interview and the applicant should listen carefully to each question in order to ensure the smartest answer. It is also important to understand that since everyone is different, applicants should always customize their answers to best satisfy their needs and goals.