A job interview can be a very stressful experience. So many interviewers like to start the interview with a general, open-ended icebreaker question such as “Can you please tell me a bit about yourself?”
This is your chance to make a great first impression. Your response should be a summary of what makes you the most qualified and skilled person for the job. While employers may be looking for a little insight into your personal interests such as enjoying travel and long walks on the beach, they are likely more interested in hearing what you feel are your best work-related qualities such as your knowledge, skills and attitudes.
By knowledge, I am referring to your understanding and awareness of job-related information. This can be acquired in a number of ways such as through education, on-the-job training as well as independent study (including something as straight forward as reading a “how to” guide on a topic that relates to your industry).
Skills address your ability to complete work-related tasks that require either physical or mental effort while being effective and efficient. For example, problem solving while exposed to stressors such as time constrictions or an adverse work environment is a highly sought-after skill.
Your attitude is often what will set you apart from other applicants with similar knowledge, skills, training and experience. Attitudes are beliefs and values that can positively or negatively affect your behaviour in the workplace. Employers look for employees who are motivated, reliable and dependable. They know that attitude is often the engine that drives an employee to fulfill and even surpass expectations.
To prepare yourself for the question “Can you tell me about yourself?” think about what knowledge and skills make you qualified for the job and be prepared to provide some examples. Also, consider what attitudes make you a good fit with the company’s culture, will demonstrate your work ethic and help you get along with your potential coworkers. I suggest you either write your response in a paragraph or in point form to help you remember the main ideas. Keep your answer rather short but rich and valid in content. As always, practice makes perfect.
It is very important to set a positive tone at the beginning of the interview upon which you will build a strong case that you are the perfect candidate for the job. Being able to speak about your unique knowledge and skills for the job and displaying the right attitude will set you up for success in your interview and hopefully lead to a long and rewarding career!