The Hardest Interview Question

“Tell me about yourself”. Don’t you just hate it when an interviewer asks you that question? What does he really want to know? What should you say? What shouldn’t you say? In surveys across the country, job seekers agree that “Tell Me About Yourself” is one of the hardest interview questions. In my employment classes, I have found that it is The Worst question to most of my students.

Why do people dread this so much? It’s not like you can’t talk about yourself. If you were at a party or met someone at church, you’d be able to tell them about who you are and the way that you view the world. Why not an employer?

I think that most of you freeze in terror at this question because you are worried you will say the wrong thing or say too much. You know who you are and why you’re there, but you’re worried that it isn’t enough. What if “who you are” isn’t enough to get you the job?

There is actually an easy way to prepare for this question and it is through an activity that I do with my students. It’s called “Your Personal Commercial” and it came from “Job Interviews for Dummies” by Joyce Lain Kennedy. Kennedy explains that you should be prepared for this question because you KNOW it’s coming. Every interviewer asks it at some point in the interview, thought it may be phrased differently.

What is a Personal Commercial? This is the idea that you’ll have about a minute to tell the interviewer who you are and to sell yourself to him or her. You know this minute is coming, so why not create a commercial of your skills and experience just like Toyota spends a minute on television trying to tell you why you should buy their newest truck.

You can prepare your own commercial with just a few easy steps. Take out a piece of paper and brainstorm for a moment to answer these questions: What are your skills? What is your experience and education? What are your positive qualities? What have you accomplished on the job? Once you have considered these, take the information and put it into a paragraph.

Here’s an example:

Example 1:
“I graduated from Washington High School with a 3.5 GPA. After graduation, I worked in customer service at Sears Department Store and McKenzie’s Home Improvement Warehouse. I am excited about the opportunity to apply for this job because I know that it will allow me to use my customer service skills. I can type 30 words per minute, know how to use a computer and have experience working in sales and as a cashier. I am outgoing and great with people. I get along well with my coworkers and my employers. I am dedicated, motivated and reliable. I enjoy the challenge of learning new things. I believe I would be a great asset to you company”.

If you have a degree and a professional background, your Personal Commercial may look more like this:

Example 2:
“I have a bachelor’s degree in Business from Texas A&M University. I am an experienced line manager with a strong background in team building and employee retention. While working at XYZ Corporation, I managed 500 employees and increased production by 50% during my two year tenure there. I am excited about the opportunity to work for your company because it will allow me to use my proven leadership skills to develop your employees in new areas. I am motivated, determined and I enjoy a challenge. I believe that I can put my skills to use to help you grow your company”.

It is also important for you to realize what is NOT in these commercials. Employers don’t want to hear about your six kids, your sky diving hobby or your pet iguana. You want to focus on work-related experience and skills.

After you’ve written your commercial, what do you do? Well, Kennedy recommends that you actually memorize it. You’re going to be nervous enough as it is when you walk into the interview. Wouldn’t it be great to already have the first part of the interview prepared? It really does help take the pressure off and gives you a chance to settle into the interview before you are asked other questions that you may be less prepared for.

As you write your commercial, are you having trouble? You can get more great ideas from the book “Job Interviews for Dummies” by Joyce Lain Kennedy.

Would you like more personalized help? Feel free to PM me with your answers to the questions above. I’ll help you create a personal commerical that will help you get the job you want.