You’ve put together your perfect CV, you’ve sent off your cover letter, and you’ve been invited to meet the team for an interview. Congratulations – you’re halfway to getting the job you applied for! However, before you set foot in that interview room, take a moment to think about the first question you’ll be asked.
You will doubtlessly be asked about your current and previous position, about your hopes and expectations for the job at hand. But before that, there will be one question that is so important to answer correctly, and yet which so many people get wrong.
‘So what is the question?’ I hear you cry. It’s as simple as this: ‘Tell me a bit about yourself’. Barely even a question, and more like a friendly conversation starter, it’s the tricky opener most interviewers use to establish what sort of candidate you are. What they don’t want to hear – confusingly – is much about yourself. They don’t want to know that you have a pet parrot, or that you enjoy European cinema and Tasmanian wine. They don’t care (at this point) about your hobbies, or dreams, or your daily commute. What they do want is to hear about your journey – what brought you to the interview today?
If you re-imagine this question as ‘what brings you here?’, we end up with an answer which is far more fitting, and far more likely to make that all important positive first impression. Picture your career path as a journey, which led you to the room in which you’re sitting. If you’re applying for a job in finance, when did your interest in this industry first arise?
Think about each step of the journey – all the relevant experience, the proven examples you can give of your successes, the moments which cemented your ambition. This is the ‘self’ the interviewers want to be told about. Remember this, and rise above the rest.