Q: Employers often ask me to introduce myself (or talk about myself) in job interviews.
What kind of answers do they want? They know my name, background etc because we send our resume beforehand.
A: This is a very good question, AmyS. Before I answer directly, let’s think about another situation where someone would want you to tell them about yourself – dating. I often tell clients that I have a very attractive, intelligent, and single sibling that’s interested in meeting new people. I list a few characteristics my brother/sister is looking for and ask them what they would respond, knowing these “requirements.” More often than not, their response mirrors those requirements. When you are responding to this question in an interview, you are expected to do the very same thing – think about what the interviewer needs and who you are, and customize your responses to that person.
Let’s say you are interviewing for a job as a Receptionist. In the job posting, the hiring manager will have listed the things that he/she finds important to have in a receptionist, the duties one would be required to undertake, and maybe a little about the mission or vision of the company (if those things aren’t all in the ad, you can probably find them on the company’s website).
Let’s say they are looking for someone who is/has:
• at least one year experience
• good people skills
• working knowledge of MS Office
• working knowledge of office equipment
• able to multi-task
• demonstrated teamwork skills
• able to work under stressful conditions
• greet all guests, visitors, and employees
• develop and maintain files
• answer the telephone and take messages
• retrieving, preparing and distributing incoming and outgoing mail, courier services and packages.
and their mission is:
• to offer programs and services that help the elderly remain as independent as possible
After evaluating these qualifications against your own characteristics and skills, you would reply something like this:
“I have been working as a Receptionist for the past 4 years. I really enjoy this type of work. I love people and enjoy every opportunity I get to brighten someone’s day, whether on the phone or in person. You never know how you can impact people and it’s really critical to customer service. I’m very good with computers. I have often been asked to help co-workers and sometimes supervisors with little computer issues and even big projects with Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. I don’t mind. I enjoy helping others. I see us as a part of a big family and who wouldn’t help their family, right? I’m very organized and I pay very close attention to detail. I’m also very good at staying calm in stressful situations. I can prioritize and multi-task, and I’m pretty flexible, so things that get other people frazzled don’t really bother me so much. I’m really excited for the opportunity to meet with you today.”
Of course, your response will be modified to your personality.
Practice looking at various ads and company profiles and thinking about a few different ways you can do this. Once you have a handle on what companies are looking for in the specific job title you are applying for, you will be able to craft a more general “elevator speech.”
As far as the questions you may ask, consider asking questions that are relevant to your interests and needs:
• How long have you been working here? Is it common to find employees who have worked here for a long time?
• What opportunities are their for advancement?
• Does the company offer professional development courses for employees to build their skills?
• May I meet some of the staff I will be working with?
• If I started today, what would my first priority be?