How To Correctly Answer The Most Common Questions In A Job Interview

Dreaded Question

Do you dread this question more then any other during an interview?

  • Yes!
  • No!
  • I don't dread any of them.
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Interview Questions: The best way to answer "Can you tell me about yourself?

This might be the most dreaded question in interview question history! It sounds like such an easy question to answer, you know everything about yourself so of course you can tell them! However, once you start talking you realize there is way to much to tell, so what exactly do they want to know? Where do you start? How do you sum up years of experiences and memories? We will break down this tricky question and show you how to answer this question in a way that will leave any employer saying YES!

What do employers really WANT to know about YOU?

The best way to answer this question is to reverse it and instead of asking what do they want to know, ask yourself what don't they want to know? They don't want to know about that time in high school when you won the drinking contest, they don't want to know about your love life, and they don't want to know about your current family or friend drama! What they do want to know is what qualities you possess that makes you the correct person for the job. They want to know about any experiences you may have had that directly relate to the position you are applying for. Basically, they want to know why you think you are a good fit for their team!

What do employers want to know about you?
What do employers want to know about you? | Source

The Do's and Don'ts of answering the interview question: can you tell me about yourself?

The easiest way to explain how to best answer this dreaded question is to break it down into a few do's and don'ts. If you practice these at home in front of a mirror you will be guaranteed to leave the interviewer thinking about you later.

DO - Practice at home. You can do this in front of a mirror or invite a friend over and role play with them. This may help you to feel more comfortable while in the actual interview and the more relaxed you are the easier it will be to be yourself.

DO NOT - Practice your entire speech and throw it at your prospective employer like a script. They will be able to tell that you planned the entire answer ahead of time which makes them weary because it looks as though you are afraid of what you might say in the moment. This makes you look like you are hiding something and that will almost always cost you the job.

DO - Keep focused while staying on topic and keeping your answers short and to the point.

DO NOT - Stay to long on one subject and don't answer the question with long drawn out stories about yourself and your memories.

DO - Choose a few bullet points to focus on, picking out a couple of key reasons why you think you are the person for the position and giving examples of experiences you have had to back these reasons up. For example if you are applying for a leadership position tell them about a couple of times that you were in a leadership role and how you handled it.

DO NOT - Tell them the same things that you have already put in your application or resume. They already know this information and they do not want to hear it again. Instead they want to hear more about why you think you can do the job.

DO - Give a list of your characteristics that could be useful while on the job. For example: are you a reliable person? Trustworthy? Hardworking? Can you handle pressure well? Can you make good decisions under pressure? Pick a few key points about you and focus on those.

DO NOT - Tell them an entire list about yourself. They don't care if you are loyal to your partner or if you cry when you watch the notebook. Keep it focused around the job and make sure all of your answers are related to the position you are applying for.

DO - Tell them what has lead you to this career decision and what qualifications you have. For example have you gone to collage? Taken any special courses? Worked in such an environment before?

DO NOT - Tell them about the time in kinder garden when you painted a horse and the teacher gave you a gold star! They want to know about recent experiences that are pertinent to the job.

DO - Be yourself and show them your personality. If you are a funny person, don't be afraid to show this by telling a joke so long as it is appropriate. They want to know who you are and who you will be in everyday life on the job.

DO NOT - Stare straight ahead giving well practiced answers. This will probably make them think you are trying to hide your real self and that will make them suspicious. You don't want to give them any reason to doubt you because you won't get the job.

DO - Be yourself, answer the question honestly, and try to give them a quick picture of the person you are and why you should get the job while keeping it under three - four minutes.

Who are you? How to tell your future employer?
Who are you? How to tell your future employer?

Answering The Question!

Now that you have an idea of what to say and what not to say it is time to start putting together an answer. It is perfectly acceptable to go into an interview with the answer to this question tucked into your back pocket. In fact, you don't want to get caught of guard by this question since that usually leads to rambling. You could almost think of this question as a mad-lib game where you fill in the blanks about yourself. Below we will look at the different ways to answer this question both incorrectly and correctly.

Lets look at how "Susan", who is applying for a serving job, may answer this interview question incorrectly:

Umm what do you want to know? Well, I am a mother of three adorable kids, they really are amazing, just yesterday little billy went potty for the first time! I went to collage for teaching and graduated at the top of my class. I have been a stay at home mother but think it might be time to go back to work now that the kids are in school and I am bored during the day. I grew up in Dixmont and moved here when my husband was transferred. I have some experience working with the public so I think I would like this job. I have three sisters and I like to watch Tv and read a good book in my down time. I guess that is really it ..... uh that's me in a nutshell.

Did this sound like a well put together answer? Yes. Was it a good answer? No. Let's look at the different reasons why this answer, that sounded like a good way to answer this question, actually was a disaster.

1. The interviewer does not care about your children, while they might like to know you have children, this is not the time or place to go into detail about your life.

2. You should not list your achievements if they do not have anything to do with the job you are applying for. This could make her seem overqualified and I have been turned down for a job for this reason.

3. Saying you are going back to work because you are bored or have nothing better to do makes you seem as though you might be unreliable. They need to know you want or need the job.

4. Telling them she moved with her husband shows that she has uprooted once, she might do it again. How long will she be with the company?

5. Some experience working with the public? What experience? Explain!

6. The way the question is asked makes it a commonly misconstrued question. People think that they should ramble on and on about their likes and dis-likes. This is the worse thing you can do unless the interviewer specifically asks for that! Talk about your qualifications, not your hobbies.

7. NEVER EVER ask what do you want to know? You might as well just walk out of the interview right then. It makes you seem unprepared and shows that you did not put any thought into this interview.

*** This is just an example of just one of the many ways that this question could be answered incorrectly. There are many other things you should avoid saying that are not listed above. Use common sense when answering the question and use the above examples as a guideline of what not to say.

Now lets look at a way in which this question might be answered correctly:

I think I could bring a lot to this company. Being a Mother of three children I have had to have very good multi-tasking skills which I think will give me an advantage in this job. I have worked with the pubic before in other serving jobs and graduated at the top of my class. I really enjoy working as a team, and I have never had any problems with any of my co-workers. I am a reliable hard-working person and I believe these qualities, along with many others, will make me a great candidate for this job.

This is just one example of an acceptable answer to this question. Play with the answers and practice to find the right way to sell yourself in an interview

Make It Yours!

There are literally millions of ways someone could answer this question, and it is perhaps the most important question they will ask you. You will want to be prepared for this question well before your interview without sounding like you pre-planned your answer. remember to be yourself and have confidence. The answers do not matter as much as the way that it is delivered. Keep the above tips in mind and you will be sure to ace the question!

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Comments 3 comments

lawdoctorlee profile image

lawdoctorlee 20 months ago from New York, NY

Excellent advice on answering this particular interview question. I like the that you explain what is good, what is not, and why. People headed out for a job interview will be better prepared after reading your hub. Voted this hub "up."

Wishing you a wonderful 2015.


mireland19 profile image

mireland19 20 months ago from Maine Author

Thank you, wishing you a happy twenty fifteen as well :)!


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 20 months ago from Home Sweet Home

the last time i went for an interview, the employer wanted to know my weak points

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