“Tell me about yourself” is a question you’re certain to be asked at any job interview, and too many people treat this question as an opportunity to give a recital of their resume. Gary Burnison, the CEO of Korn Ferry, stated in an article on CNBC that after conducting thousands of interviews over the past 20 years, the best and most memorable answer he ever received to that question was: “I’ve climbed the highest mountains on every continent, including Everest.” And why is this answer so impressionable? This candidate shared something that showed who she really was beyond a piece of paper. Let’s learn of the importance of your response to this question being more than a recital of your resume.
During an interview, people become eager to show off their work accomplishments and projects they are involved in. There is plenty of time during an interview to do so, and the interviewer has viewed your resume prior in order to understand your professional expertise. “Tell me about yourself” is an opportunity to go deeper than what’s on paper. It doesn’t mean that you need to have climbed Mount Everest to be memorable, but it allows you to share with the interviewer about your life outside of work. Everyone has something interesting to share – you’re training for your first half marathon, you’re writing your first novel, or maybe you lead a cooking class on Wednesday nights – so take this as an opportunity to showcase a unique detail about yourself.
Be Authentic; Show Your Purpose and Passion
This often is your first impression, and how you answer matters. Your accomplishments outside of the workplace can be tailored to the role you are applying for. Leading a cooking class weekly shows leadership, a sense of community, and a passion for cooking. Training for your first half marathon shows you like a challenge without having to say you value challenge in the workplace. Often, we separate passions outside of work with work itself when they can have many commonalities, so be passionate and be your authentic self. Find the overlap between what you’re truly passionate about and the passion required for the job you’re applying for. Grounding yourself in that authentic passion will get you immediately in the right frame of mind and emotional space to be, and be seen as, authentic.