"Tell Me About Yourself"

Whether it’s a formal job interview or a casual networking event, this is a question that can strike fear into the hearts of even the most prepared respondent.  The answer provides a wealth of information for the interviewer, both from what is actually said to how the question is handled, which is probably one of the major reasons this simple question causes so much anxiety and stress. 

Most career websites and blogs suggest that the best way to prepare for this interview question is to focus on your key strengths and characteristics, give examples that showcase your experience in utilizing them and do so in a way that is specific and memorable. 

Which, coincidentally, is a wonderful way to prepare for the essay portion of the college application.

If you think about it, this is the question that most colleges are asking each applicant and the goal is exactly the same - to share your key strengths and qualities, gives examples that are both specific and memorable and do so in a way that differentiates yourself from the other applicants.

Despite what it feels like in reading the essay prompts, the colleges really do want to make it as easy as possible.  They work extremely hard to come up with specific wording to help the student figure out what they want to “tell about themselves” but sometimes focusing on the specifics can be just as difficult as answering an open-ended question.  Hey, if it were easy, there wouldn’t be the plethora of essay writing workshops, articles and blogs out there.

So where and how to begin? 

If the process for preparing for an interview and an essay are both stressful and anxiety producing, I say, let’s figure out a way to do both at one time and minimize having to experience the stress twice!

Below are three things that you can do to help you prepare for a job interview or internship AND provide you with essay ideas you can use for the wide variety of prompts:

1.    What are minimum of five values and strengths you are most proud of?

2.    What is one specific example or moment in your life that illustrates each one?

3.    What is the ONE thing that you want the interviewer (or college) to know and remember about you from each example?

Once you have done that, you will have a minimum of five different qualities that are special and unique about you and have an example that showcases each of them in a way that is specific and memorable! 

Yes, you will need to expand from there, depending on the particular question, but you’ve got a foundation that helps you to do that.  Each one of these can be utilized in a variety of different ways- from showcasing how you are positioned for a specific role in an organization to developing an answer to the various essay prompts and anything in between. 

Equipped with this super-power, not only will you no longer fear the question, you will eagerly embrace opportunities to hone your newly developed talent to tell people about YOU!