What’s The Toughest Interview Question? What’s The Easiest?

The answer to both is “Tell me about yourself”. This is one of the most common openers to a job interview. If you’re going through an Assessment Centre there’s a possibility  you may not get it. If you’re not going through one, you’re definitely going to get it .Your response to this request will set the tone for the rest of the interview. If you’re truly prepared for the question it’s an immediate ‘home run’ with interviewers often making their mind up about candidates within the first five minutes. If you’re not prepared for the question it is the most challenging question to answer as candidates wonder what the interviewer really wants to know and what information they should include and consequently fumble their way through. Interview over!

“Tell me about yourself” in a job interview means “Give me an overview of who you are. Give me some broad background before we dive into specifics.”

Scripting

You should be ready with a 60 to 90 second scripted answer (that doesn’t sound like a script !). An answer that spends broadly 70% of the time telling the interviewer about yourself smoothly transitioning to 30% of the time on why you have applied for the position or Graduate Scheme at this organisation and why you are the candidate get hired!

Prepare a script that includes the information you want to convey. There are a few different ways to do it but the format below is certainly one which has had good success.

Practice

Practice with your script until you feel confident about what you want to emphasise in your statement. Your script should help you stay on track, but you shouldn’t memorise it –  you don’t want to sound stiff and rehearsed. It should sound natural and conversational. Might sound cheesy but nothing wrong with having a friend or fellow student ask you this question to gain experience and increase your confidence.

Just in case you are not asked this type of question to begin the interview, this preparation will help you focus on what you have to offer. You will also find that you can use the information in this exercise to assist you in answering other questions. The better you can talk about what you have to offer….. the better chance you will have at selling yourself…!

1. Start with your degree credentials

First, you should start with your degree credentials. ” I am a 3rd year undergraduate at Bath University studying  _____.” This section should be absolutely tied down with the main points you want to get across at your fingertips to anyone that you meet. This will lay the groundwork for the interviewer to explore further after your full answer and you’re ready for them !

2. Tell them why you chose your degree subject – give them a story

Passion and commitment are key qualities City financial employers look for because it’s an indicator that you will be dedicated to the work you will be doing. Talking about the inspiration for your degree subject and why you want to work in London financial markets is one way to convey passion. For example, tell the interviewer about a course option you took that was inspiring or even a life event that caused you to go down this path. Tell a story that gives them a reason to keep listening ( you want the interviewer thinking “ ..and then what happened ?” ). Giving them insight into why you would be a passionate and enthusiastic employee up to the potentially long hours of the Investment Banking world or similar.

3.Tell them about your experiences throughout university

You then need to transition to telling them about the most influential experiences you have had while at university . Give them a short synopsis of an influential class, your internships, student organisations, volunteer opportunities or anything else that has been influential. This gives them a quick overview of why you have the raw experience and potential for London financial markets .

 

 4. Summarise how your experiences, personality and ambition will help

The most important thing is the ending. Tell them why your experiences make you one of the best candidates for the Graduate Scheme or individual position. Tie all your experiences and your inspiration together to make you look like you are an exceptionally enthusiastic candidate with the ability and ambition to back it up.

Like it or not – this question usually comes up at the start. Your chance to nail the interview right away !

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About Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the founder of Opening City Doors and is a Financial Market Specialist having worked for several leading Investment Banks and financial technology institutions additionally.He therefore provides a unique insight, and unusually broad perspective, into the opportunities available in London Financial Markets and related sectors and how to launch your career in the ‘City’.