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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Answering the Toughest Interview Question...

"So tell me about yourself."

We've all heard it; we've all had to answer it. This is the Interviewers secret weapon that puts incumbents into a tailspin. Most launch into an in depth historical account of their working lives; but that is the wrong approach.

Instead, don't jump in and start recanting your life in verse. Try this instead. When your interviewer asks you to talk about yourself; use this time to interview the interviewer. Turn the question back to them and get them involved in your answer. Simply say something like, "I would like to tell you about myself; but before I do could you tell me a little more about what this specific job entails along with some of the requirements you feel are important?"

You see this leading question to the interviewer serves two purposes. First the interviewer will be relaying to you the actual job requirements and not just the printed verse on the job boards or their webpage. They will also be supplying you with key items from which you will make your mental notes. That's the second reason for the question. While they are going on about the job you are forming your responses to fit the needs of this particular job.

If the interviewer won't play ball and instead continues to press you to talk about yourself without addressing your question; then you have to rely on your research. Prior to this interview you should have researched the company and in doing so made notes regarding the state of the company and any weaknesses it may have. To narrow it down look for its weaknesses with respect to the position you are interested in. Once you've located them you don't need to address every one, however, use three of them.

When you are responding to the interviewer bring up these weaknesses, tactfully, then use examples of how you solved these problems with a previous employer. By doing this you are showing off your abilities to solve problems while emphasizing the contribution you would make if hired for the position. By not trying to solve the new company’s weaknesses but making reference to them shows the interviewer that you’ve done your homework but you are not vain or condescending.

You want to make a memorable impression on the interviewer for being knowledgeable but not for being arrogant.

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