An interview is like starring in a performance. The focus is all on you. There is a critic evaluating your act. There is even a particular set of clothing to wear. You wouldn’t star in a performance without learning your lines and rehearsing, so why improvise a job interview?
The best way to ace an interview is to prepare and rehearse. Act as if you were going to star in a play and you need to learn your lines. According to US News, the most common interview prompt is, “Tell me about yourself.” Not only is it the most common prompt, it is also most likely to be asked first. It’s been determined that 50% of the interviewer’s decision is made within the first minute of the interview, so it’s important to make a good first impression and start your interview off on the right foot.
In order to answer the “tell me about yourself” prompt effectively, follow these tips:
- Keep it concise: Introduce your interviewer to your background with a one-minute overview. This prompt is used as a jumping off point to launch into a more detailed discussion about your professional experiences. No rambling.
- Stay formal: Though it seems to be phrased as a casual conversation-starter, keep the tone formal and professional. This prompt isn’t designed to delve into your personal life, childhood, or hobbies.
- Summarize where you’re at in your career: Focus on your most recent job and your responsibilities. Don’t go bullet to bullet over your entire resume. If you’re entry-level without much work experience, tell them about relevant skills you’ve gained through school or personal experience.
- Focus on your strengths: Sell your skill-set by highlighting your greatest strengths. Pick one or two items to highlight that you feel most comfortable showcasing.
- Rehearse: Outline your answer and practice it aloud. Rehearse until you feel comfortable rattling off your answer without looking at your outline; you’ll want to make eye contact during the interview.