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How to Respond to Interview Questions Like Tell Me About Yourself

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How to Respond to Interview Questions Like Tell Me About Yourself
Copyright Getty Images Keith Brofsky
Interviewers will sometimes start an interview with an open ended question like "Tell me about yourself." It's a way to break the ice and make you feel more comfortable during the interview process. It's also a way for the hiring manager to get insight into your personality to help determine if you're a good fit for the job.

Sharing too much or too little information isn't a good idea. The interviewer doesn't want to know everything about you, but disclosing too little can make him or her wonder why you aren't more open.

What to Share With The Interviewer

Although it might be tempting to share a list of your most compelling qualifications for the job at hand, a more low-key approach will probably help you to develop a personal rapport with your interviewer.

Try starting out by sharing some personal interests which don't relate directly to your work. Examples might include a hobby which you are passionate about like quilting, astronomy, chess, choral singing, golf, skiing, tennis or antiquing.

Interests like long distance running or yoga which help to represent your healthy, energetic side are worth mentioning. Pursuits like being an avid reader or solving crossword puzzles or brain teasers will help to showcase your intellectual leaning. Interests like golf, tennis and gourmet food might have some value if you would be entertaining clients in your new job.

Volunteer work will demonstrate the seriousness of your character and commitment to the welfare of your community. Interactive roles like PTA volunteer, museum tour guide, fundraiser, or chair of a social club will help show your comfort with engaging others.

Avoid Politics and Controversy

Typically, you would steer clear of controversial topics like politics or religion. It's important to avoid any references to topics that would cause concern about your ethics, character, productivity or work ethic. You also don't need to share personal information about your family. There is no need to discuss spouses, partners, children or any other strictly personal information.

Transition to Professional from Personal

After sharing a few interesting personal aspects of your background, you can transition to sharing some key professional assets that would help you to add value if you were hired for your target job. Consider using phrases like "In addition to those interests and passions, my professional life is a huge part of who I am, so I'd like to talk a bit about some of the strengths which I would bring to this job."

Share Your Expertise

Then be ready to share three or four of the personal qualities, skills and/or areas of expertise which would help you to excel in the job for which you are interviewing. Ultimately you will want to share several other strengths before the interview is over.

Make a list before you go the interview, so you know what you will share. Look at the job description and match it with your skills. Then share the top few skills which make you an ideal candidate for the job.

However, be careful not to overwhelm the interviewer with too much information. After mentioning three or four strengths, you might mention that you have several other assets which you would like to discuss as the interview unfolds.

At first, you should only mention the asset and allude only briefly to some proof of how you have tapped it to your advantage. For example, you might say that you love to give presentations and that has helped you to generate lots of leads at sales dinners for prospective clients.

Later in the interview, you will want to be more specific and detailed in discussing situations, interventions and results flowing from your strengths.

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