Tell me about yourself
Start with the present and tell why you are well
qualified for the position. Remember that the key to all
successful interviewing is to match your qualifications
to what the interviewer is looking for. In other words
you must sell what the buyer is buying. This is the
single most important strategy in job hunting.
So, before you answer this or any question it's
imperative that you try to uncover your interviewer's
greatest need, want, problem or
To do so, make you take these two steps:
Do all the homework you can before the hr interview to
uncover this person's wants and needs (not the
generalized needs of the industry or company)
As early as you can in the
interview, ask for a more
complete description of what the position entails. You
might say: “I have a number of accomplishments I'd like
to tell you about, but I want to make the best use of
time together and talk directly to your needs. To
help me do, that, could you tell me more about the most
important priorities of this position? All I know is
what I (heard from the recruiter,
read in the classified
Then, ALWAYS follow-up with a second and possibly, third
question, to draw out his needs even more. Surprisingly,
it's usually this second or third question that unearths
what the interviewer is most looking for.
You might ask simply, "And in addition to that?..." or,
"Is there anything else you see as essential to
in this position?:
This process will not feel easy or natural at first,
because it is easier simply to answer questions, but
only if you uncover the employer's wants and needs will
your answers make the most sense. Practice asking these
key questions before giving your answers, the process
will feel more natural and you will be light years ahead
of the other job candidates you're competing with.
After uncovering what the employer is looking for,
describe why the needs of this job bear striking
parallels to tasks you've succeeded at before. Be sure
to illustrate with specific examples of your
responsibilities and especially your achievements, all
of which are geared to present yourself as a perfect
match for the needs he has just described.
What are your greatest strengths ?
You know that your key strategy is to first uncover your
interviewer's greatest wants and needs before you answer
questions. And from Question 1, you know how to do this.
Prior to any
interview, you should have a list mentally
prepared of your greatest strengths. You should also
have, a specific example or two, which illustrates each
strength, an example chosen from your most recent and
most impressive achievements.
You should, have this list of your greatest strengths
and corresponding examples from your achievements so
well committed to memory that you can recite them cold
after being shaken awake at 2:30AM.
Then, once you uncover your interviewer's greatest wants
and needs, you can choose those achievements from your
list that best match up.
As a general guideline, the 10 most desirable traits
that all employers love to see in their employees are:
A proven track record as an achiever...especially if
your achievements match up with the employer's greatest
wants and needs.
Honesty...integrity...a decent human being.
Good fit with corporate culture...someone to feel
comfortable with...a team player who meshes well with
Likeability...positive attitude...sense of humor.
Dedication...willingness to walk the extra mile to
Definiteness of purpose...clear
Enthusiasm...high level of motivation.
What are your greatest weakness ?
Disguise a strength as a weakness.
Example: “I sometimes push my people too hard. I like to
work with a sense of urgency and everyone is not always
on the same wavelength.”
Drawback: This strategy is better than admitting a flaw,
but it's so widely used, it is transparent to any
BEST ANSWER: (and another reason it's so important to
get a thorough description of your interviewer's needs
before you answer questions): Assure the interviewer
that you can think of nothing that would stand in the
way of your performing in this position with excellence.
Then, quickly review you strongest qualifications.
Example: “Nobody's perfect, but based on what you've
told me about this position, I believe I' d make an
outstanding match. I know that when I hire people, I
look for two things most of all. Do they have the
qualifications to do the job well, and the motivation to
do it well? Everything in my background shows I have
both the qualifications and a strong desire to achieve
excellence in whatever I take on. So I can say in all
honesty that I see nothing that would cause you even a
small concern about my ability or my strong desire to
perform this job with excellence.”
Alternate strategy (if you don't yet know enough about
the position to talk about such a perfect fit):
Instead of confessing a weakness, describe what you like
most and like least, making sure that what you like most
matches up with the most important qualification for
success in the position, and what you like least is not
Example: Let's say you're applying for a teaching
position. “If given a choice, I like to spend as much
time as possible in front of my prospects selling, as
opposed to shuffling paperwork back at the office. Of
course, I long ago learned the importance of filing
paperwork properly, and I do it conscientiously. But
what I really love to do is sell (if your interviewer
were a sales manager, this should be music to his ears.)
Tell me about something you did – or failed to do
– that you now feel a little ashamed of ?
As with faults and weaknesses, never confess a regret.
But don’t seem as if you’re stonewalling either.
Best strategy: Say you harbor no regrets, then add a
principle or habit you practice regularly for healthy
Example: Pause for reflection, as if the question never
occurred to you. Then say to hr, “You know, I really can’t
think of anything.” (Pause again, then add): “I would
add that as a general management principle, I’ve found
that the best way to avoid regrets is to avoid causing
them in the first place. I practice one habit that helps
me a great deal in this regard. At the end of each day,
I mentally review the day’s events and conversations to
take a second look at the people and developments I’m
involved with and do a double check of what they’re
likely to be feeling. Sometimes I’ll see things that do
need more follow-up, whether a pat on the back, or maybe
a five minute chat in someone’s office to make sure
we’re clear on things…whatever.”
“I also like to make each person feel like a member of
an elite team, like the Boston Celtics or LA Lakers in
their prime. I’ve found that if you let each team member
know you expect excellence in their performance…if you
work hard to set an example yourself…and if you let
people know you appreciate and respect their feelings,
you wind up with a highly motivated group, a team that’s
having fun at work because they’re striving for
excellence rather than brooding over slights or
Why are you leaving (or did you leave) this
(If you have a job presently tell the hr)
If you’re not yet 100% committed to leaving your present
post, don’t be afraid to say so. Since you have a job,
you are in a stronger position than someone who does
not. But don’t be coy either. State honestly what you’d
be hoping to find in a new spot. Of course, as stated
often before, you answer will all the stronger if you
have already uncovered what this position is all about
and you match your desires to it.
(If you do not presently have a job tell the hr.)
Never lie about having been fired. It’s unethical – and
too easily checked. But do try to deflect the reason
from you personally. If your firing was the result of a
takeover, merger, division wide layoff, etc., so much
But you should also do something totally unnatural that
will demonstrate consummate professionalism. Even if it
hurts , describe your own firing – candidly, succinctly
and without a trace of bitterness – from the company’s
point-of-view, indicating that you could understand why
it happened and you might have made the same decision
Your stature will rise immensely and, most important of
all, you will show you are healed from the wounds
inflicted by the firing. You will enhance your image as
first-class management material and stand head and
shoulders above the legions of firing victims who, at
the slightest provocation, zip open their shirts to
expose their battle scars and decry the unfairness of it
For all prior positions:
Make sure you’ve prepared a brief reason for leaving.
Best reasons: more money, opportunity, responsibility or