“So, Tell Me About Yourself”…How to Ensure You Move to the Next Step in the Interview Process

| by April Anthony

What would you say if asked, “So, tell me about yourself?”  It’s certainly an open-ended question and one that could help or hurt you when trying to impress your potential next supervisor or board of directors.  The job market is flush with talented professionals seeking their next career move.  Below are some tips that will help you move to the next step in the interview process:

  • Make eye contact.
  • Smile.
  • Be authentic and confident.
  • Use the question’s language in your reply such as “I’m not usually one to talk about myself, but I can tell you what colleagues and former staff say about me.”
  • Do not include a lot of personal information. Talk briefly about your career steps and then state why you seek a change.
  • Keep it short. A 5-minute answer is not needed but a precise 1- to 2-minute answer is.
  • Work the requirements of the job description into your answer like “I am a listener and a team player. As a collaborator, I excel at creating partnerships and increasing awareness.”
  • Answer all interview questions succinctly.
  • When you are finished responding, be quiet and await the next question. Sometimes interviewees keep adding things to fill a quiet gap, and this is unnecessary and distracting.
  • When given time to ask the interviewer(s) questions, make each question an insightful one. Ask no more than four questions. 
  • Do not ask questions which can be answered in the job description or website.
  • Refer to the organization’s 990, annual report, and website so they know you’ve done your research.
  • Do not make negative statements like “Your website really needs some help or “I noticed your materials are out of date” as you never know if the person responsible is in the room and will take offense.
  • Do not ask “What is the next step in the process? as the next step is always that the interviewer or search firm will contact you to invite you to a second interview or you will be thanked for your interest. 
  • At the end of the interview, state how much you are interested in becoming the next (title) for (organization) and thank the interviewer(s) for their time.
  • Write a thank-you note to each person who interviewed you.

Interviewing for a position is not a science, but there are responses and actions that will either kill your chances for a second interview or propel you to the next step in the process.

Please email April at april@armstrongmcguire.com with any comments or questions. 

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