Career Counseling and Student Advisement

So.... Tell me about yourself.

Everyone who has ever been in a job interview has been asking this question. Most people will tell you that it's the most difficult question in the entire interview process. What about this question is so difficult though? Shouldn't this be the easiest question you'll ever get since you know yourself better than anyone else?

Not necessarily.

In an interview, this question isn't really giving you the whole picture. There is more to this question than the interviewer is actually asking. Ready for the biggest interviewing bombshell of your blog reading life? What the interviewer is actually asking is, "Tell me about yourself in relation to this position." The last 5 words in that sentence change everything about the question and it's very unlikely that you'll ever actually hear them in an interview.

The fact of the matter is that when you first hear, "Tell me about yourself" you're very likely to start telling someone about your family, your likes/dislikes, your hobbies, or maybe even your pet fish who may or may not have been abducted and replaced with an impostor. What you're unlikely to do is actually tell the interviewer what they want to hear. So, how do you answer the first and most important question of the interview?

Here are a few Do's and Dont's to help you navigate the interview landmine:

Don't tell the interviewer irrelevant personal information. Talking about your hobbies and family may be fine by chances are the company is not going to hire you because of your love for bowling.

Do tell the interview what unique qualities you have that will be an asset to the company. Remember, the bottom line is that they may be interviewing quite a few prospective employees, so you need to be sure to let them know why you are going to be the best choice they could make.

Don't try and wing it. This is not your first speech in an entry level public speaking class and your lack of preparation will be evident and not easily forgiven.

Do prepare for the one question you have a 99.9% chance of being asking. Check out the company, see what they are all about in terms of values and goals and tailor your answer to fit that. You don't need to make things up about yourself that aren't true, but if you can't find a way to match your interests or skills with the companies then it might be time to start looking elsewhere.

Don't ramble on for an awkwardly long time. This is not the time to tell the autobiography of your life.

Do develop an "elevator speech." An elevator speech is the idea that if you had to tell someone everything they needed to know about you on an elevator, what would you say? basically, it's a 30 to 60 second "all about me" that you should develop and have read to go at a moment's notice. Just keep in mind that they really want to know about you in relation to their company.

All of the "Do" suggestions on this list can be accomplished by visiting the Auburn university Career Center. For instance, you can practice before you interview by setting up a mock interview appointment, or by using Interview Stream. Be sure to visit the Auburn University Career Center website to find out more about how they can help YOU.

Last Updated: 3/26/2014