Tag Archives: selling yourself

3 things to keep in mind when answering, “Tell me about yourself”

The directive from the interviewer, “Tell me about yourself,” strikes fear in the hearts of even the most confident job candidates. That’s because they haven’t given serious consideration to how they’ll answer this directive.


It’s also because they haven’t taken time to construct a persuasive elevator pitch, which is one of the most important tools in your job search toolbox. There are three components necessary to answer, “Tell me about yourself.”

1. Keep it relevant. You must be aware of what the employer wants from their employees, which requires from you not only researching the job but also the company.

Let’s say, as a trainer, you’re aware of the employer’s need for satisfying people of cultural differences. You’ll begin your elevator speech by addressing this need.

You’ll begin your elevator pitch with something on the lines of:

Along with my highly rated presentation skills, I’ve had particular success with designing presentations that meet the needs of diverse populations.

Then you’ll follow it with an accomplishment, as accomplishments are memorable.

For example, the company for which I last worked employed Khmer and Spanish-speaking people. I translated our presentations into both languages so that my colleagues could deliver their presentations with ease and effectiveness. This was work I did on my own time, but I realized how important it was to the company. I received accolades from the CEO of the company; and I enjoyed the process very much.

Finally, you’ll close your elevator pitch with some of the strong personality skills for which you’ve been acknowledge. In this case, your innovation, assertiveness, and commitment to the company would be appropriate to mention. But don’t simply list your personality skills. Show them.

My managers have often told me that I’m innovative, which I understand you’re looking for in your next trainer. If I’m hired for this position, I’ll be committed to helping you meet your goals, whatever they may be.

2. Be on your toes. Being prepared is essential to job seekers who need to say the right thing at the right time to a prospective employer. This is where your research on the company comes into play—the more you know about said company, the better you can recite your elevator pitch.

One way to answer, “Why should we hire you?” is by using your elevator pitch. Throughout the interview, you’ve paid careful attention to what the employer has been saying regarding the challenges the company is facing.

They need a manager who can develop excellent rapport with a younger staff, while also enforcing rules that have been broken. Based on your new-found knowledge, you realize you’ll have to answer this question with a variation on your rehearsed pitch. You’ll open instead with:

I am a manager who understands the need to maintain an easy-going, professional approach as well as to discipline my employees when necessary. As this is one of your concerns, I can assure you that I will deliver on my promise, as well as exceed other expectations you have for this position.

Then you’ll follow with an example of what you asserted.

If I may give you a specific example of my claim, on many occasions I had to apply the right amount of discipline in various ways. There was one employee who was always late for work and would often return from break or lunch late, as well.

I realized that she required a gentler touch than the others, so I called her to my office and explained the effect she had on the rest of the team when she wasn’t where she was supposed to be. I then explained to her the consequences her tardiness would have on her. (Slight smile.) I don’t think she had been spoken to in such a straightforward manner by her other managers. I treated her with respect.

From that day forward, she was never late. In fact, she earned a dependability award. There are other examples. Would you like to hear them?

3. The purpose of your elevator speech. When employers listen to your elevator pitch, they should recognize skills and accomplishments that set you apart from the rest of the candidates.

Tell your elevator pitch in a concise manner that illustrates these skills; don’t simply provide a list of skills you think are required for the position. Remember that accomplishments are memorable and show your value added, especially if they’re relevant to your audience, e.g., an employer.

Above All Else, Your Elevator Pitch Must Show Value! The value you bring to the employer. As in the example above in which the candidate understands the needs of the employer to be building rapport with young workers, while also enforcing rules; you must know the employers pain points.

Once you’ve got a full grasp on the employer’s pain points, you’ll know which content to include in your elevator pitch and how to deliver. it.

Whether you use your elevator pitch to answer the directive, “Tell me about yourself,” or the question, “Why should I hire you?” there are enough reasons to develop one that is relevant and shows you can think on your feet.

Now read how to answer other tough questions:

“Why should we hire you?”
“What is your greatest weakness?”

5 ways to position your career brand

To my jobseekers I assert that career branding is a lot like business branding—the big difference, of course, is that they’re selling themselves to get a job, not to increase profit for a company. Nonetheless, the two are similar.

An article posted on MagneticLook.com by Silvia Pencak talks about business branding, e.g., Apple, Mercedes, and unique small businesses, but also brings to mind how jobseekers can brand themselves to employers. Ms. Pencak notes that there are ways to strategically brand a business but makes it clear that it’s not at the expense of trashing other companies. She writes:

But before I do it, it’s important to understand that the objective of brand positioning is not to bring your competitors down, but to outshine them by performing better and more efficiently cater to the needs of the industry’s customers.

Based on a business model, there are five ways that jobseekers can brand themselves.

  1. A low-cost leadership strategy. This is not to say that as a leader, you must present yourself as someone who will work for free or for a low salary. You will come across as someone whose leadership abilities will pay for itself over and over. You are a leader who crafted your subordinates into excellent workers, some of whom became leaders themselves.
  2. A broad differentiation strategy. You attract employers from many industries which produce many products or services. You are not limited in your talents and experience, and have accomplishments to back it up. You sell yourself as someone who “wears many hats,” while remaining extremely effective.
  3. A best-cost provider strategy. Your are someone who offers potential employers a multi-dimensional employee who brings with her not only excellent technical skills but transferable ones as well. A project manager or engineer who also demonstrates excellent presentation skills, offers employers two employees for the price of one.
  4. A focused strategy based on lower costs. You know the benefits of working for smaller companies but realize that salaries are generally smaller. The small start-up wants to reduce costs (salaries) but needs two employees, a project manager and inside sales rep. Both jobs are within your realm, so you propose to be hired to perform both tasks at 75% of what it would cost to hire two employees, thus saving the company a boatload of money and meeting your salary needs.
  5. A focused strategy based on differentiation. You have a strategy or plan not only for yourself but for the company or organization as well. You have career goals that are attainable and in synch with your future employer. You differentiate yourself from other jobseekers as someone who can meet your goals, which is not the case for your competitors.

These are five business strategies that you must use to beat the competition. You as a jobseekers must develop strategies that enable you to beat your competition and land the job. To be able to perform at the top of your field is not enough; you must be able to communicate it in your verbal and written communications…otherwise you’re talents and accomplishments will be unknown.

Is it possible to separate career branding and personal branding? Is there a fine line? Mary Appleton makes a valid point in an article she shared with me that personal branding is important in terms of highlighting your personality skills. She writes in her response to this article:

In addition though, I think it’s really important for job seekers to define their own personal brand, which comes down to personality and determines whether you’re the right cultural fit. The art of personal branding can be hard to master, particularly as it’s not easy for people to get into the habit of thinking of themselves as a ‘product’ they need to market.

How true!