So, I stumbled across a YouTube video the other day giving advice on this question and it got me thinking. It got me thinking that there’s some very dated advice out there and that I really hope people don’t take it on.
Now, I’m not going to name and shame as I don’t want this to be that kind of platform. What I will do, is give my 2 cents and give my advice on how you should answer this question.
The example given of a ‘great answer’ involved the person going off on a massive tangent about soft skills and experience related to the job description etc.
“I have great team-building skills because of X…”
“I’m a great leader because of Y…”
This is all great and everything, but this is not what they asked you.
Whilst this is good information to have to hand, and to share. You need to know how and when to use it.
When someone asks this question it’s usually a bit of an ice-breaker. Something to kick off the interview and get you talking. If the first thing you do when you’re asked this question is to go off on a massive rant about how amazing you are and how you have all of these soft skills, then it’s going to come across very scripted and disingenuous.
Here, you want to keep it short and to the point. Avoid hobbies and personal interests. And, keep it all professional.
Give a brief snapshot of the relevant experience that’s led you to this point in your career. What jobs you’ve had in this field/industry? What relevant education have you got? Steer clear of part-time and un-related jobs you had way back when.
I appreciate it may be tough not to explain each role in detail and prove to them exactly why you’re the right person. But trust me, there’ll be time for that.
The interviewers’ likely have set questions that will tell them specifically what they want/need to know about you. So, it’s best to give them the opportunity to direct the interview in the way they need it to go (at least at the beginning).
Put it this way, if you’re up against 3 other people and you were asked only half the questions the others were because you decided to jump straight into a sales pitch – you’ve shot yourself in the foot. The interviewers only know half the stuff they need to know about you to make a decision compared to the other interviewees.
If there are specific things you know you want to talk about though, this is a good place to signpost.
e.g… (super basic summary here)
“…whilst I was with Facebook I did some really interesting and relevant projects that I’d love to tell you about if we have the time…” and then continue on with your snapshot.
The main takeaway here is to ensure you’re beginning the interview on the right foot and that you’re not chewing the ears off of the interviewer. Give them bitesize chunks of information that they can ask tertiary questions on.
During the interview you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sell yourself.
I hope that helped.