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Building Your #1 Interview Answer

job interviewWhat do you say in an interview when they say “Tell me about yourself”? Will your interview move you forward, in the interview and in your career?

In my last post, Job Interviews: “Tell me about yourself”, I revealed what goes into a great answer to this most crucial question – and by great answer, I mean one that immediately makes clear why you’re the right person for the job.

This week I will guide you along the steps to developing and perfecting that answer.


Brainstorm your key points.

Once you’ve read last week’s article, brainstorm the information you want to include in your answer. You could talk it through with a buddy or a job search coach, or on your own. Jot down the key points.

Don’t write it out word-for-word and memorize it. That approach leads to robotic, “canned” answers that make the listener’s eyes glaze over.

Put the key points in order.

Rearrange those key points into an order that makes sense and that puts the most important and interesting points first. For example, when talking about your experience, start with the most recent and/or the experience that is most likely to impress.


You can start by saying it out loud to yourself. Adjust the keyword outline as necessary.

Then try out your answer on others – friends, family members, trusted business acquaintances. Ask them to tell you at least one thing that works well in your answer, and at least one thing you could improve.

If they say “Really, it’s just great, I don’t have any suggestions,” ask them questions: “Did you understand everything? Was anything puzzling at all? How was the length? Which parts of it were most interesting?” (Assume that the other parts may have been a bit dull.)

Or maybe ask them to summarize what they heard. If they can’t, your answer may not be as clear and memorable as it should be.

Repurpose your work.

You can get a lot of mileage out of this answer, which can be used as a “positioning statement,” “elevator intro” or “30-second commercial” for networking situations. For example, a super-short version (maybe 10 seconds) could be used to introduce yourself at the start of a phone call, such as a follow-up call after applying for a job online. Develop a few versions for various situations.

Invest some effort, because this is a powerful tool.

Is this a lot of work? Sure, it may take hours. Will it all be worth it when you have a very effective, well-practiced opener for all your job search conversations? When you feel confident and know you’re making a smart first impression? You bet!

A great “tell me about yourself” answer is one of the most powerful job-search tools you can have.

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