October is "interview month" here at Hollywood Resumes! For the next four weeks, we will cover strategies for answering the tough questions you'll inevitably be asked in a job interview. If you'd like to put these tips into practice, be sure to take advantage of our mock interview service.
Question: Tell me about yourself.
In most interviews, the first thing an interviewer will say is simply, “Tell me about yourself.” This is probably the most important part of the interview, because it gives you the opportunity to set the tone of the meeting and make a great first impression. It's crucial that you have a clear and concise answer ready to go. You’re not about to dive into your whole life story, but there are some relevant personal and professional facts you should cover when asked this question. Take some time to prepare and rehearse your answer (although be sure to avoid sounding like a robot!).
The most obvious part of your answer should be an overview of your general career trajectory. The interviewers may or may not have read your resume in depth, so don’t assume they know everything about you. You can summarize portions of your career history that are less relevant or jobs that are similar (i.e. saying you did three reality TV internships instead of listing out each one), but be sure you spend a little more time talking about your current or most recent position and your duties there. Also, you’ll want to cover any positions where the responsibilities were similar to what you’ll be expected to do at the new company, even if it isn’t your most recent job. You can set yourself up for success during the rest of the interview by demonstrating that it makes sense for them to hire you because your work experience aligns so well with what they’re looking for.
While your career history important, don’t forget that this initial question is also your chance to show that there's more to you than what's on a piece of paper. Based on yourresume, your interviewers know that you’re most likely qualified, so they really want to get a sense of your personality and how well you’ll get along with the department. We recommend starting your answer by stating where you’re from and briefly describing when and how you made the decision to move to LA (or New York) if you weren’t already there after college. These two topics often will spark some kind of more casual conversation and facilitate a personal connection with your interviewers. If you’re lucky, maybe one of them will be from your hometown or will have attended your alma mater. You always want to create opportunities to break the flow of a formal and rehearsed interview answer and engage the interviewers -- it will help them get to know the fun parts of your personality and backstory and will make all of you feel at ease. And even if these moments don’t naturally come up, you can still mention what you’re passionate about in the context of your decision to pursue this career. Show your enthusiasm, and make sure your personality comes across during the interview!
One last note: Be sure not to ramble. Keep your answer to a few well-constructed, confident, informative sentences that flow logically. Think of it as an elevator pitch -- the short bio you'd use at a networking event, on a first date, or when your mom's best friend asks what you're up to these days. A brief but substantial answer will give your interviewers the opportunity to pursue a conversation or continue on with their questions without getting lost or bored.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan