Find a Job that Matters

Ep. 087: How to Answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question, with Katherine Burik

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"If a candidate has a solid response to this question, they can set the stage and tone for the entire interview." Katherine Burik

It’s often the first interview question you’ll get: “Tell me about yourself.” While it seems like a simple prompt, it can make or break the rest of your interview. Mess it up and you’ve ruined your first impression with the employer. Ace the question and you’ll set the tone for the rest of the meeting.

The question is so important that job coach, Katherine Burik, has written an entire book on how to craft a winning answer. Katherine shares the “Cliffs Notes” version of her strategy this week on the podcast.  

The foundation of Katherine’s strategy is to plan ahead. Think about what the interviewer wants to hear, and share ideas and experiences that speak to their needs. You’ve got to be honest, but you can shape your experience in a way that will resonate with the employer.

To ace the “Tell me about yourself” interview question, Katherine offers a five step approach:

  1. Provide a short, high-level overview about yourself.
  2. Highlight a specific accomplishment you are proud of–preferably one that is related to the position to which you are currently applying.
  3. Share five flattering (but honest) words to describe yourself, starting with “I am…”
  4. Explain why you are interested in this specific position.
  5. Tell the interviewer why they should hire you.

The trick is to communicate everything above in a concise and direct way. Your entire answer shouldn’t take more than two minutes. The best way to ensure you have a tight, well-tuned response is to practice, practice, practice!

This Week’s Guest: Katherine Burik

Katherine Burik is a partner at The Interview Doctor. She works with both job candidates and employers, and speaks frequently about career development and successful job search methods. Katherine has published three books on job hunting, as part of The Job Seeker Manifesto. Her fourth book, Talent Search Marketing Plan, is in the works.

This Week’s Job Search Resource

Ben shares a list of 10 Jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago to highlight why you have to be flexible and adaptable in your career. You can’t predict the new career opportunities that will emerge in the future (or which jobs will simply disappear) so you have to stay informed and open to change.

This Week’s Listener Question

Jessica and the team answer a question from listener, Andrew Cameron:

“I’ve heard feedback on a number of my interviews that I’m overqualified. I’d be really interested in hearing your thoughts on what that means, and what I might be able to do about that.”

If you would like the team to answer a job-related question or if you’ve found a job resource you think everyone should know about email it to or call at 716-JOB-TALK. If we use your question on the air, you will receive either a copy of our new book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere or a Mac’s List Coffee Mug, your choice.

If you like this show, please help us by rating and reviewing our podcast on iTunes. We appreciate your support!

Opening and closing music for Find Your Dream Job provided by Freddy Trujillo,

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Mac Prichard
Mac Prichard publishes Mac's List and owns and operates Prichard Communications, a public relations agency that serves non-profits, public agencies, and foundations across the United States. He also blogs regularly about job-hunting.
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