‘Tell me about yourself’: How not to screw it up in interviews

The most basic open-ended inquiry posed to a job candidate can be a sinkhole if you’re not careful. Here’s what to avoid.

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When an interviewer says, “So tell me a little about yourself,” your natural impulses are probably all wrong.

You’ve got a big interview coming up. How do you prepare? You research the company, polish answers to common questions, and home in on the ways your skills and experience will help you achieve results in that particular job.

You can do all that and still flounder in the interview. Many candidates stumble at the first hurdle, because it doesn’t seem like it requires a lot of effort to clear. What is it? The typical opener that invites you to help the interviewer get to know you.

This hardly seems like the toughest inquiry you’re likely to encounter. You know your own biography, after all. But according to career coaches, this prompt is a common stumbling block for inexperienced candidates who go wrong by taking the question at face value.

Many candidates, unprepared for the question, skewer themselves by rambling, recapping their life story, delving into ancient work history or personal matters.

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