“So, tell me about yourself.” Have you heard this question during an interview? If yes, that’s because approximately 90% of job interviews will begin this way. This question gives the interviewer the chance to gather their thoughts on you and it determines the direction of the interview process.
This is your first chance to make a strong first impression and lead the conversation. So, what do you do with such an open-ended question? Do you start in chronological order and flick through every page of your resume, or do you focus on job titles and the names of your employers?
Don’t tell the interviewer what they already know and miss out on the opportunity to sell yourself. The real question they are looking to answer here is ‘why should I hire you?’ They are not requesting a literal recap of your resume. While you want to walk the interviewer through your accomplishments, don’t summarise each role you have had. Instead, select about three examples based on your experience that demonstrate that you can do the job. If you tell your career story this way, you’ll create a compelling narrative of why they should hire you. Leave your resume for the details of specific skills, expertise, and experiences. The interviewer can always ask you for more detailed questions if they are interested.
Make sure your resume meets the criteria of the role
When you’ve written your resume according to the job you are interviewing for, you’ve done 70% of the preparation. You have already thought about your experiences, your achievements, and your skills, as well as how these will help you be successful in your next job. This is what your potential employer or the hiring manager really wants to know from an interview.
In an interview, the interviewer needs to tick off three things. If you have the skills and experience to actually do the job, and if you have the motivation to see it through, and if you will fit into the culture of the organisation. A good resume answers the first point and gives you the grounds to confirm the second and third points during the interview process.
Reference your resume during the interview
It’s easy to draw a blank during the interview process. You are in an artificial environment where both parties are trying to sell themselves, and this high-pressure situation can completely clear the thoughts from your head – no matter how many times you practiced in the mirror. When you’re stressed about interviewing, it can be easy to forget the exact details of your career.
Unfortunately, you can’t prepare for every interview question, as there are literally hundreds. Some questions do get asked more often than not, while other questions are designed to throw you off-guard. During the interview, it’s ok to glance at your resume and reference specific parts. Perhaps you may wish to have a visual summary of your career story [like a Resugraphic ;)] on hand during the interview making it easier to reference specific accomplishments.
Review your resume and achievements prior to the interview
You are only going to perform well in an interview if you are feeling confident in yourself, your abilities and whether or not you are actually suited to this role. Your resume, if crafted correctly, should give you that boost of confidence you need as it is a true reflection of the things you have achieved. It’s not boasting or blowing your own trumpet, it’s just the verifiable truth.
There is a phenomenon that can occur during the interview process called emotional contagion. This is where one person’s emotions and related behaviours can directly trigger a mirror effect on other people. So, if you walk into an interview feeling apprehensive, your interviewer will begin to feel the same way. Just the same as if you exude confidence and enthusiasm.
Your resume will give you the confidence you need in an interview. I keep a copy of my resume in desk at work and it reminds me of all the great things I have achieved over my career. Go over your resume prior to your interview and reflect on everything you have achieved in your career. This will give you the confidence to truly sell yourself during the interview.
First impressions are everything in an interview. Your resume, if done right, can be the confidence boost you need to make a great first impression, help you prepare and show the interviewer you are the best candidate for the job.