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Tell About Youself?
Tell me about yourself: This is really more of
a request than a question. But these few words can put
you on the spot in a way no question can. Many quickly
lose control of the interview during the most critical
time- the first five minutes. This is not the time to
go into a lengthy history or wander off in different directions.
Your response should be focused and purposeful. Communicate
a pattern of interests and skills that relate to the position
in question. Consider your response to this question as
a commercial that sells your autobiography. Provide an
answer that includes information about where you grew
up, where you went to school, your initial work experience,
additional education and special training, where you are
now, and what you intend to do next. One of the most effective
ways to prepare for this question is to develop a 60-second
biographic sketch that emphasizes a pattern of interests,
skills, and accomplishments. Focus your response around
a common theme related to your major interests and skills.
Take, for example, the following response, which emphasizes
computers. "I was born in Canton, Ohio and attended Lincoln
High School. Ever since I was a teenager, I tinkered with
computers. It was my hobby, my passion, and my way of
learning. Like most kids I enjoyed computer games. When
my folks gave me a computer as a reward for making honor
roll my sophomore year, I mastered DOS, Windows, and WordPerfect
within six months. I then went on to teach myself programming
basics. By the time I graduated high school,
I knew I wanted to study programming. From that point
on, everything fell into place. My life revolved around
computing. By my junior year at Syracuse, I decided I
wanted to work for a major software manufacturer. That
is why I had an internship last summer at FastTrack Software.
I now want to work for a major player so I can be at the
forefront of breaking trends and new technology. When
my college roommate told me about his start in your department,
I hounded him until he helped me get a referral, which
brought me here today. I am prepared to answer any questions
you may have about my education and experience." This
response sets a nice tone for starting the interview.
The interviewee is able to say a lot within 60 seconds
by staying focused.
The message is clear: the interviewee has both passion
and focus relating to the position. He stays on message
and concludes by leaving the door open for additional
questions about his education and experience. Unfortunately
some candidates get off on the wrong foot by rambling
several minutes about their childhood, family, hobbies,
travels, and interests.
What are your greatest strengths?
TRAPS: This question seems like a softball lob,
but be prepared. You don't want to come across as egotistical
or arrogant. Neither is this a time to be humble.
BEST ANSWER: You know that your key strategy is
to first uncover your interviewer's greatest wants and
needs before you answer questions. And from Question 1,
you know how to do this.
Prior to any interview, you should have a list mentally
prepared of your greatest strengths. You should also have,
a specific example or two, which illustrates each strength,
an example chosen from your most recent and most impressive
You should, have this list of your greatest strengths
and corresponding examples from your achievements so well
committed to memory it.
Then, once you uncover your interviewer's greatest wants
and needs, you can choose those achievements from your
list that best match up.
As a general guideline, the 10 most desirable traits
that all employers love to see in their employees are:
1. A proven track record as an achiever...especially if
your achievements match up with the employer's greatest
wants and needs.
2. Intelligence...management "savvy".
3. Honesty...integrity...a decent human being.
4. Good fit with corporate culture...someone to feel comfortable
with...a team player who meshes well with interviewer's
5. Likeability...positive attitude...sense of humor. 6.
Good communication skills.
7. Dedication...willingness to walk the extra mile to
8. Definiteness of purpose...clear goals.
9. Enthusiasm...high level of motivation.
10. Confident...healthy...a leader.
What are your greatest weaknesses?
TRAPS: Beware - this is an eliminator question,
designed to shorten the candidate list. Any admission
of a weakness or fault will earn you an "A"
for honesty, but an "F" for the interview.
PASSABLE ANSWER: Disguise strength as a weakness.
Example: "I sometimes push my people too hard.
I like to work with a sense of urgency and everyone is
not always on the same wavelength."
Drawback: This strategy is better than admitting
a flaw, but it's so widely used; it is transparent to
any experienced interviewer.
BEST ANSWER: (and another reason it's so important
to get a thorough description of your interviewer's needs
before you answer questions): Assure the interviewer that
you can think of nothing that would stand in the way of
your performing in this position with excellence. Then,
quickly review you strongest qualifications.
Example: "Nobody's perfect, but based on what
you've told me about this position, I believe I' d make
an outstanding match. I know that when I hire people,
I look for two things most of all. Do they have the qualifications
to do the job well, and the motivation to do it well?
Everything in my background shows I have both the qualifications
and a strong desire to achieve excellence in whatever
I take on. So I can say in all honesty that I see nothing
that would cause you even a small concern about my ability
or my strong desire to perform this job with excellence."
Alternate strategy (if you don't yet know enough about
the position to talk about such a perfect fit):
Instead of confessing a weakness, describe what you like
most and like least, making sure that what you like most
matches up with the most important qualification for success
in the position, and what you like least is not essential.
Example: Let's say you're applying for a teaching
position. "If given a choice, I like to spend as
much time as possible in front of my prospects selling,
as opposed to shuffling paperwork back at the office.
Of course, I long ago learned the importance of filing
paperwork properly, and I do it conscientiously. But what
I really love to do is sell (if your interviewer were
a sales manager, this should be music to his ears.)