Make a lasting impression at your interview by skillfully navigating the inevitable opener: “so… tell me about yourself.” No matter how many key interviewing stories you have in your back-pocket, many IT consultants still feel uncertain about how to approach this open-ended start to an interview. However, this opener is nothing to shy from: It is a terrific opportunity to take charge of the interview and talk about your strengths, qualifications, and why you’d be good at the job, while also expressing who you are personally and professionally to your interviewer. You want to interest and impress your prospective employer without running the risk of talking too long and becoming boring, or giving a negative impression. Make the most of the opportunity to “tell about yourself” by having a three-minute (or so) answer prepared. Turn to the examples of movie trailers – which similarly aim to deliver a strong message in a tight time frame— to help you navigate your story with personality, engage your interviewers, and leave them wanting more.
Set the Scene:
Almost every movie trailer begins by showing the audience a glimpse of the film’s setting. Likewise, you begin to “tell about yourself” even before the formal exchange. Studies have shown that people begin to judge each other 1/10 of a second after meeting them, and that after only four minutes they have decided what they think of them. Because of this, it is essential that you appear professional and well groomed. Clip your nails, brush your teeth, and don’t over-do your cologne. And of course, don’t forget your nonverbal communication: Smile, make eye contact, stand tall, and extend a firm handshake. These simple yet easily overlooked preparations and actions will ensure that your interviewer has a positive image of you, even before you’ve begun to share more information.
Highlight Big Moments:
In only about two minutes, a trailer seeks to make viewers interested enough in a film that they will purchase tickets. You do not need to divulge your life story in order to engage your interviewer. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Highlight your most important accomplishments and personality traits, including brief anecdotes that support your claims. Stick to relevant information, such as schooling, your career path, etc. An easy formula to follow is: Present-Past-Future. Where are you? Where did you come from? Where do you want to go? These three questions can be answered in under a minute, and provide you with an easy framework to memorize before going into an interview. Don’t forget while these questions are meant to relate to your career, it is beneficial to throw in a couple of (brief) life experiences. Present yourself as a great overall fit for both the specific job and the company. But share with discrepancy – don’t spill everything about yourself during this initial portion of the interview. Leave a little room for more sharing as opportunities arise naturally throughout the rest of the interview, or even after you’ve landed that gig.
Appeal to Your Audience:
Movie-trailer-makers know the importance of catering to the right audiences. For this reason, you’ll generally find that while waiting to see an action movie, many action-packed trailers have filled the screen. The same approach of catering to your audience should be used in the way you present your “about me” trailer to your interviewer. Without being dishonest, search for commonalities between yourself and the other person that you can include in your “about me” summary. Take advantage of social media by doing some research on your interviewer as well as the company so that you have a talking point to open the conversation with. Not only will doing this research help to get your conversation moving, but it will also build rapport – giving you a way to relate to him or her on a non-business level. At the end of the day, don’t forget that the hiring manager is not only looking for someone with the sought-after qualifications, but for someone he or she would like to work with. It’s okay to laugh or tell a joke (within moderation). Be professional, but don’t forget to be interesting.
Leave an Impression:
Trailer-makers cause you to interact with their film by touching on topics that really pique your interests. Make sure that the interviewer knows you are genuinely interested in what the position is, and what it means to be a consultant at the prospective company, by asking important, relevant questions. Consider applying the “Spinning the Table” technique and using your “about me” monologue to segue into your questions about the company, and the strategies that you bring to the table which will resolve current dilemmas. By finding a particular company “project” that you are interested in, you’ll bring the statement “I have many assets to bring to this company” to a whole new level. Don’t tell them – show them, and simultaneously, prove that you are worth investing in.
Telling your full story would take much longer than watching a full-length film, but all you need to bring to your interview to respond to the infamous “tell me about yourself,” is a trailer’s worth of information. Concise, interesting, visually-appealing, and unique, your “about-me” trailer serves to promote you as the expert you are. By bringing a little bit of personality and research, and a lot of preparation to your interview, you are sure to have a captive audience for the remainder of your time together.