This question can be intimidating for a lot of people, especially if you’re not sure what to include in the answer. Do they want to know my dog’s name or what I did on my summer vacation? The secret is that when someone asks you that in an interview, they want to know how your experience relates to the job you’re interviewing for. It’s also an opportunity to own your story and share it with prospective employers or professional contacts.
So, what does “telling your story” mean? There is a strategy to it. Although showing up in a well-dressed suit helps, it’s about learning to cultivate your story and how well you tell it. Name 2 or 3 relevant accomplishments or experiences on the job and quantify them either in terms of people, money, or time. Here are some example questions & ideal answers:
Q: “Tell me about yourself?”
A: “Hi, I’m Jess. I currently work as a technical recruiter in fintech, and I’ve spent the last 5 years on the HR side for merchants and clients which has given me a well-rounded skill set of sales, coaching, and administrative work that I enjoy applying in a diverse work environment. I bring added value to the tech industry because I increased sales by 20% and helped boost efficiency with a team of 10 people.”
To summarize, she’s simply stating: 1) This is what I’ve done and my strengths; 2) This is what I’m doing now; and 3) This is what I’m looking for.
Q: “Why are you choosing to leave this role and what are you looking for next?”
A: “I’m glad you asked me this question. I was approached by this recruiter on LinkedIn and thought I’d be a great fit for this role and I’m excited to learn about the opportunity here and the value I can bring as a seasoned Intake Coordinator. I’m using this opportunity to learn more about this role and your team.”
This is a well-cultivated story that shouts confidence, versus coming into an interview with an attitude that screams, “I really need this job, I don’t have any other opportunities”. The answer includes, 1) a level of confidence by thanking the interviewer for asking you the question; 2) a statement that you were sought out (if possible) and in demand; and 3) that you are using the interview to learn about them too, and that they would be lucky to have you.
This works even if you’re trying to pivot into an area you don’t have experience in; you just need to identify your transferable skills and experiences.
Once you’ve answered a question, follow up immediately with a question for the interviewer. Remember, you are interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you! For example: If you want to learn more about the workplace culture you can ask, “What kind of communities is this company involved in?” or “What would success mean in this role?” to give you an idea of what kind of workload is to be expected. You could also ask why the job is vacant to gauge if there’s a high turnover rate.
Another Tip: Practice, practice, practice. Go over your answers and prepare extra questions to ask!