Don’t Say That, Say This

October 4th, 2010 by jwjobblogwp Leave a reply »

You get to your interview, shake hands, take a seat and the person across from you smiles and says “So tell me a little about yourself…”

Despite the fact that you think this is a friendly question, and the interviewer is looking to break the ice by learning a bit about your prize winning roses or poodle, it isn’t.

This is the serpent tempting you with the apple.  Just say no.

Bob Gates and Al Rankin, two retired executives run — in my opinion — one of the best Job Seeker groups in the Triangle.  They do a great job, and one of their favorite topics is a document called “How to answer the 64 Toughest Interview Questions“.

On the list of questions, “Tell me about yourself” in number one.

While the question seems innocent enough, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that your interviewer wants to know your life’s history.  It’s great that you might have golf in common, or belong to the same service organization.  However, the true goal of this question is to find out how you fit the job.

The best way to handle this question is to be prepared.  Do your homework — about the organization, the people you are meeting with as part of the interview process, the people who you might meet with in the interview process.  Be informed — know who the president is, when the organization was founded, look up their latest press releases.  Know the job description and requirements before you enter the room — and practice how your knowledge, skills and background meet the company’s need.

Do some investigation and figure out what problems this position needs to solve, how it fits in the overall structure of the company, and how that relates to what you’ve done before, or what skills you have are transferrible to meet the need.

Now take a deep breath — shoulders back, sit up straight, and tell me about yourself.

What was the toughest interview question you ever came across?

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Note on “How to Answer the 64 Toughest Interview Questions”:

I’ve tried to research the origin of this document — there are several copies of it floating around on the Internet.  But to the best of my ability, I have yet to find who the originators or authors of this document are, and who might own the copyright.  Suffice to say, it appears to be a document in the public domain.

That said, I have decided that it might be of value to go through the questions one by one and talk about possible answers and pitfall that await us in that all important interview.  Over the coming weeks and months, you will find questions from this document discussed here on the job blog.  I invite you to chime in with your experiences and lessons learned from the interview process.

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