Dear Job Seeker, It’s Really Not All About You

What “So tell me about yourself” really means?

It’s usually the first question you hear at a job interview: “Job Seeker, so, tell me a little about yourself.”

A lot of us take this as an invitation to wow the interviewer about how cool we really are. Besides being qualified for this position, they’ll really be impressed by my Star Wars collection, my three pugs and my home beer brewing hobby!  I’ll tell them about my hopes and dreams, and being so impressed by my creativity, they’ll offer the job on the spot.

Usually, um… no.

I spent a lot of money on a career counselor once who gave me some of the best advice about how to answer this question and every other question during a job interview.

Dear Job Seeker, It’s Really Not All About You

“They don’t want to hear about you. They want to hear about how you can benefit them.”

Simple as that. This is, after all, a conversation in which you are trying to convince a company that you can be an asset. As long as you keep in mind that you are selling your services, experience and talents as it applies to the position, you can’t go wrong.

Save the dog stories and the beer brewing for AFTER you get the job!

So, let’s go through it again.

Interviewer:  “Job Seeker, so, tell me a little about yourself.

Job Seeker: “Well, I graduated from ABC University with a BA in Business. Since then, I’ve worked at numerous companies, quickly going from intern to supervisor within three years. I tripled the sales numbers at XYZ company within two years. I am particularly skilled in computer applications and sales, and I feel I could make an immediate contribution to the company from day one.”

Now shut up.

With every question that comes next, keep in mind that what the interviewer wants to know is how YOU WILL BENEFIT THEM.

It’s really not about you.

It’s about how you can help them.

Employers, what do you think? Do you really want to hear about a person personally, or are you more interested in their skills? Or both?


Heide Brandes is a writer and content creator for Xceptional HR.  She has more than 15 years of experience as an award-winning journalist and editor who specializes in human resources, career, and recruiting topics. You can learn more about Heide at HeideWrites and follow her on Twitter @heidewrite.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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