What You Can Do to Avoid This Trap
2 minutes to read
You finally got a meeting to discuss a job. Congratulations! Maybe your job-board spamming finally paid off. More likely you connected with someone at the company who got you the meeting. Notice I didn’t call it a job interview. I’ve explained why in a previous post. This is your big chance to get the job you want. You both sit down. The person asks the first question. After you respond, you notice a cooling in his attitude. You don’t know how. But you know you’ve blown it already.
The First Question Sets the Tone
During the first 30 to 120 seconds, the person you’re meeting with will check out:
- Your personal appearance – even breath and tattoos (even on Skype – okay not your breath)
- How nervous you appear
- Any signs you lack self-confidence
- How much consideration you show other people
- Your values
Many people don’t realize they’re doing it. You do the same thing. Everyone quickly sizes up new people. But most don’t draw conclusions until the talking begins.
You get your first question. The MOST frequent one is: “Tell me about yourself.”
Wanting to keep things light or appear humble, you smile and answer: “What would you like to know?”
You Fell Into a Trap
Most people get nervous when meeting someone new. That goes for you AND the person you’re meeting with. He’s not trying to set you up. “Tell me about yourself” is his way of politely giving you the floor. You have about two minutes to make yourself stand out from the other people he’ll meet with.
Given the time limit, he doesn’t want your life story. What he wants to know, but isn’t asking outright is:
- Why are you here? Why my organization and not another one.
- What can you do for us? Connect your skills to what know about my organization.
- What makes you unique? Distinguish yourself from the other candidates.
- What kind of person are you? Explain how you will fit into the culture here.
- Can I afford you? Address this when you’re offered the job.
Now you can’t answer all of these in two minutes. Respond to one question in a way that he’ll remember you.
Use your Unique Value Proposition. If you don’t know what this is, download my 5-Steps Checklist and check out Step #2. Having done the self-examination and research to develop your UVP, you can come up with at least one powerful response to: “So tell me about yourself.”
Proper preparation will prevent your blowing the meeting on the first question. It will also improve your first impression. You won’t feel nervous, or at least as nervous. You’ll appear self-confident. Both of these will allow you to focus better on other people.
Avoid the first question trap. Set the tone for a productive meeting between two professionals so you can get the job you want.
How will you answer: “So tell me about yourself?”
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