Job InterviewIt’s a statement you hear at almost every interview — “Tell me about yourself.”

This is your chance to show them how lucky they would be to hire you.

Don’t get caught off-guard

As an IT recruiter, I interview people everyday. When I ask this question, it’s easy to tell who’s ready and who’s not.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for responding to “Tell me about yourself” in a job interview.

Avoid statements like “I’m devoted, dedicated, hard working”

These phrases seem canned and don’t reveal anything specific about your approach to work. Anyone can say they are hardworking. Employers want to know the details. Why should they hire you over the next person interviewing for the same job?

Give a specific example of how you demonstrated your work ethic when you faced a real challenge.

Highlight key points about yourself that relate to the job

If this is your first job, talk about your educational background and any job experience, group work or volunteer work you’ve done that shows your skills and good qualities.

If this isn’t your first job, highlight your previous job experience and positive results you achieved in previous projects.

Exact numbers and figures on how much money you made for or saved a company are music to a future employers ears.

Be sure to mention if you exceeded a past employer’s expectations or performance goals. You can bet the next question they’ll ask is how you plan to do this for their company.

Clipboard with checklist

Click this image to see the “tell me about yourself” checklist and plan the perfect answer.

Don’t wing it

If you try to come up with a response to awkward interview questions on the spot, you might forget some integral information that sums up your experiences and background. Definitely think about this question beforehand and try to shorten your response into a succinct summary.

Plan your answer with the Tell Me About Yourself Checklist.

Don’t ramble on

Keep it short and informative.

Think of your response as an interview version of the elevator speech, named that way because it should be about the length of an elevator ride – a few sentences long, maximum.

You want your answer to be long enough to get the most important information across. But short enough to keep them interested.

Brand yourself

Create a personal tagline that tells the interviewer what you do and the  ‘X’ factor that sets you apart from everyone else.

Stay away from listing broad skill sets. Employers want to hear the juicy stuff. Let them hear specific results that came from your skill sets.

For example, if you are a web developer, your response might sound something like this: “I’m a web developer with over 8 years in the business, 250 websites and apps built to date, and a track record of doing X resulting in increased revenue of $1 million this quarter alone.”

This post may help: Top Programming Languages to Get a Job in Toronto in 2017

Practice, practice, practice

The more you practice the answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself,” the better it flows when you give your answer in an interview.

Try recording yourself on a webcam or practice in front of a mirror to watch your mannerisms and tone. It will help you notice bad habits such as fidgeting, talking too quietly or loudly, and losing eye contact with the interviewer.

Take 5 minutes to get into the right head space before the interview

It’s natural to feel nervous, especially when you’re faced with a tough question like Tell me about yourself.

Take 5 minutes to do some easy mind hacks to calm yourself and feel more confident even if you’re nervous.

Basically, you want to smile, improve your posture and refocus your worried thoughts to positive memories of the good work you’ve done in the past. Then think of the good work you would love to do for this company in the future.

How do you reply to the question Tell me about yourself?

Please let me know in the comments section below.

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