How to answer the dreaded "tell us about yourself" question in a job interview

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Interviewing for a job is very exciting — it means you got through the faceless application process — but also oh-so-terrifying. Perhaps the most uncomfortable part of it is that you need to essentially sell yourself, which for women who are taught from day one to be modest and insecure can be difficult. The worst part? The “tell us about yourself” interview question. *Shudder*

One simple trick to nailing a job interview is to approach it as if it were a meeting, because after all, it’s not just a time for you to shine, it’s also an opportunity for you to ask your potential employers questions about the job to make sure it’s a good fit for you. However, since you’re the hopeful applicant and they’re the ones making a potentially life-altering decision about your future (no big deal, heh), you’re going to want to prepare.

That’s why we talked to personal branding expert Natasa Djukanovic about how to nail the “tell us about yourself” prompt.

Djukanovic is the chief marketing officer (or CMO for the startup-enthusiasts out there) at the company behind the .ME domain extension, so she obviously encourages everyone to talk about M-E. She has three quick tips for crafting a good “elevator pitch” about yourself, which should convince anyone to hire you.

1. Brief is better.

We all know it’s easy to get carried away when talking about yourself, but preparing a list of attributes to focus on — relating to the job — can be helpful.

Djukanovic advises,

“Be as specific as possible and communicate the value that you can provide with an example people can connect to in seconds. It’s always a good idea to practice with a friend that will help you keep your pitch on point and below 30 seconds. Remember, you don’t need to say everything, you need to get someone interested.”

Sounds easy enough, right?

2. Focus more on which problems of theirs you can help solve.

Remember that they’ve invited you to fill a position to help solve a problem or do something specific that contributes to their overall mission. You want to make them think they need you, so make sure to tailor your “about me” answer to what their needs are.

3. Believe in yourself and act confident.

It’s hard to pull confidence out of thin air, especially when you’re not used to feeling that way (something to work on for another time). The funny thing about job interviews is that they’re often coming in the midst of career rejection, so interviewees might be wondering, “Why do I deserve this job?”   Luckily, Djukanovic has a great tip for overcoming the lack-of-confidence hurdle.

“If you need help being confident, there is a clever trick people use when faced with stage fright. They create a confident alter ego that can face any challenge. For example, Beyoncé used to have the alter ego Sasha Fierce, which gave her courage to ‘forget’ her shyness and be confident when performing. Think about how you would ideally like to portray yourself and channel that person.”

So basically, be Beyoncé, and you’re bound to nail it. Sounds easy enough, right? There is something to be said for tricking yourself into believing you’re the best for anything (job, apartment, relationship, anything) in order to overcome the impostor syndrome that so many women are plagued with.

Even if you’re not applying for a job right now, you should still prepare a short bio about yourself for networking or…life!

Expert Djukanovic has a compelling argument for why elevator pitches are so important for everyone. She told us, “You never know who has the potential to be your next client or a connection to a client. A person you meet on a vacation may be someone you’ll work with one day. Have your elevator pitch ready to go at a moment’s notice.” She also makes a point to note, “The key to rattling off an elevator pitch in an unexpected setting is to make sure it doesn’t feel like an obvious pitch. Practice with a friend to make sure it feels natural and not forced.”

When you look at everyone you meet as a potential life-changing connection, the world becomes a little bit more exciting. Plus, building yourself up and reminding yourself about the positive experiences and skills you have is always a good exercise in boosting self-esteem.

Now get on out there and pitch yourself like you’re Sasha Fierce! Maybe don’t start off with a wink, though. Just a thought.

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