Job seekers, if you want your education, experience, talent and abilities to count, know what you do best, when you add value and why it all matters.
Your knack for talking a good game won’t land a job unless you prove you can play the game well.
Saying you’re a people person won’t hold water if you talk more than you listen and listen without understanding.
Bottom line, an interview is an opportunity to demonstrate how your strengths and skills combine with your self-awareness and the awareness of others to build and sustain relationships while driving positive results.
Interviewers predictably begin the meeting asking, “Tell me about yourself.” If you recite your resume, and it’s a long recitation, you’re not only squandering a chance to make your case, you’re telling them what they can read on their own.
So what’s the best way to respond? By giving prospective employers what they need to make an informed decision: how and why your strengths can make a difference to their bottom line. Stay focused; be succinct, steady and credible.
Prepare. Your answer will be the springboard for the give-and-take that will follow. If it helps to see a good response to the tell-me-about-yourself question, check out this one:
“I’m a project manager who believes in personal and professional accountability. I’m at my best when I’m given the scope, resources, support, responsibility and authority to get the job done, with very little direction. I understand that I must prove my worth before being given that kind of latitude. I’m ready to demonstrate that dedication to you and your company.”
Regardless of title, position or role in an organization, you’ll need to know yourself to describe yourself at your working best because a good interviewer will dig deeper, asking questions about your strengths, your weaknesses and your employment history. For example:
“I’m at my best when expectations are clear and I’m given the time and resources to create the outcome my employer wants. I design before I implement, tap the creativity and logic of those who have a stake in the outcome and team with individuals whose input is essential to success”.
You will be asked to describe your weaknesses, so tell the truth while continuing to make your case:
“I’m at my best when I have the autonomy to create, the flexibility to involve others in the design and the resources to produce quality outcomes on time and under budget. I know that I can get frustrated and impatient when requirements are vague, my options limited, and I’m micromanaged.”
You’ll be asked loaded questions:
“You’ve changed jobs several times in the last five years. Why would you stay with us when you haven’t stayed with other companies?”
A possible reply:
“I’m looking for a company that wants to keep me challenged. Give me problems to solve and the latitude to design and implement high priority projects that respond to your critical needs, and I’ll be effective, productive and focused on your business. Bottom line, keep me busy doing what I do best, and I’ll stay for as long as you need me!”