You enter the hiring manager’s office. You’ve likely shaken hands in the lobby or receiving area of the office. Please god, I hope your hand was warm and dry, and your handshake was firm. Let’s assume you made it this far.
You’re offered a chair. You both sit down at about the same time. You both exhale. Here we go.
You’re about to blow it. Maybe.
The very first question you will be asked by 100% of the people who will interview you is some version of
“Tell me about yourself.”
You launch into a detailed list of your perceived skills, your eyes look up at the ceiling, you ad-lib and fumble your way through a laundry list of behaviors you think you want your interviewer to hear.
The interview might continue for a while, but it was over at question #1.
When you don’t know who you are, how can you possibly convince someone else?
What I mean by that is this: if you’ve done your research on the company and the hiring manager, if you are familiar with their industry and competitors, and if you are qualified to be in that interview, I really like your chances.
The opening paragraph in the job interview is your verbal version of the short summary we put at the top of a LinkedIn profile or resume.
The job interview answers the following: why should they hire you?
I found an article a few years back on LinkedIn that addresses this. These are the author’s words, not mine. He said
“What employers want to know is how you can add value to a role. Every single person in an organization should be able to quantify exactly how they add value. Everybody’s contribution should be measurable and what you have to do in an interview is tell the interviewer what you will contribute. This is how you use your list of key skills and strengths — simply telling me what they are isn’t good enough, as you’re not matching them up to the needs of the job.”
Answer: We need to practice our paragraph and polish our summaries. When you believe what you are saying, others will, too.
Use powerful but not too fancy words. Avoid the word me and I in your intro and during the conversation. Me, me, me is not the reason for hiring someone. Value to the company is an awesome reason.
In the first minute, tell your interviewer how you made it into the office. Tell them your story in 20 seconds, adding at the end your knowledge of the great things the company is doing.
You are the solution to a problem they have.
You made it to the interview – congratulations!
Now close it.
Close the deal. I’m cheering you on. Need some fresh eyes on your summary? John’s here.