Your answer can help you make a great first impression—or it can flatten your hopes of getting a job offer.
Job interviews require you to talk about yourself. You know this. But when you finally come face to face with the hiring manager and she asks you to describe yourself, you don't want to be left dumbfounded. Knowing how to describe yourself to someone who could potentially be your next boss is not something you should freestyle. Planning is key.
Besides, there are plenty of things you could say in your answer to this difficult interview question, but you need to be sure you include attributes that actually matter to the job you're chasing. Don't worry—we're here to help you hit this question out of the park. (Original article available here.)
Here's how to describe yourself to potential employers.
Highlight Your Strengths
This is not the time to share details about your personal life. Read: saying, “I'm happily married with three kids” does absolutely nothing to articulate your value to a hiring manager.
Instead of delving into your life story, talk about the qualities and traits that you possess that align with the job duties of the position that you're interviewing for.
Choose Your Keywords Carefully
You can mine job postings for buzzwords that employers want to hear. Most job descriptions list what attributes or skills companies are looking for in a potential hire. For example, if a job posting says qualified candidates must have problem solving skills, you'd incorporate that language into your answer. (“I'm a problem-solver by nature. My immediate goal when I speak to a customer is to get their issue resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.”)
Moreover, a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management revealed 15 soft skills that employers commonly look for in entry-level job seekers. Weaving a few of them into your self-description can make you a more attractive candidate:
- Dependability and reliability
- Customer focus
- Oral communication
- Writing communication
- Reading comprehension
- Critical thinking
- Planning and organization
- Creativity and innovation
Don't Shy Away from Tooting Your Own Horn
Though you certainly don't want to come across as conceited, remember that the goal of a job interview is to impress the interviewer (or interviewers, plural, if you're sitting in front of a panel). Therefore, learning how to self-promote in a convincing manner is crucial.
Need a little help building up your confidence level? There are a number of techniques you can use, like rehearsing your interviewing skills with a friend, practicing good posture, or using positive affirmations.
Consider Crafting an Elevator Pitch
Some people can talk off the cuff, but if you're not one of them, you'll want to develop a script in advance that you can use to answer this interview question. We're talking a 30- to 60-second elevator pitch that uses an anecdote to support your claims.
Here are a couple examples of strong elevator pitches:
- If you're applying for an administrative assistant position:
“I would describe myself as an extremely organized person by nature. That served me well at my last job, where my attention to detail helped save my employer money on a major account. I'm also good at creating systems to help teams stay organized. At a previous job, I introduced my manager to Slack, which helped our department improve our internal communication.”
- If you're applying for a management position:
“I'm a people person at heart. At my last job I took over a department that had high turnover. I was able to improve retention by offering flexible work schedules, providing a comfortable work environment, and praising employees for their achievements.”
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