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How can you answer the very wide interview question “tell me about yourself” without boring to death the interviewer?

The first point to make is to remember where you are! You’re not chatting with a new friend, or in a club or bar or dinner party, where you can give a full and exciting life story. So instead of simply answering with a chronological narrative, be aware you are about to undertake a gentle sales job about yourself. The questioner might better have said “tell me about those things which will help me to judge your suitability for this role”. So the key to success is in understanding what the interviewer is looking for, and showing how you match those criteria. Some key areas to include are:

Professional history
Start in the recent past, or present, rather than a simple list of every job you have undertaken since your GCSE’s, or post university (unless they are relevant to this specific role and why you are attracted to it). Consider key events and actions you have taken, what you have achieved, positions you have held, and point to the connection with the position you are seeking and the skills and actions necessary to fulfil it successfully.

Educational track record
This area of discussion is more or less relevant depending on your level and the period of time since the completion of your education. If you have many years of work experience, you might point to how some key qualifications have helped you along the way. More recent seminars and courses which have been beneficial can also be included.

If you have recently finished law school, then focus on specific areas and what you have learned, and how this can be put to beneficial use in the position you are seeking.

Your personal skill set
Combined with both of the previous areas, identify one or two relevant skills that are of greatest importance in the sought role. Demonstrate how you believe these will have a tangible usefulness to the key job areas or tasks, and how you will be able to deliver the ‘end goal’ that the interviewer is looking for.

Your future
Avoid clichés, such as “in 5 years I’d like to be doing your job”. Instead, explain how you are looking to develop and move forward in your career, in ways that could dovetail with what the organisation is looking to achieve.

You’ll need to make sure that you convey this in a way that doesn’t come across as you only see this role as a stepping stone to elsewhere, but instead, a place to grow your skills and contribute over a period of time.

Presenting yourself
Reflect on the above content and then combine with key reasons why you have a strong interest in this employer/ this role, rather than simply wanting “a job – any job”. Now, practice what you want to say and the best way of delivering this.

These pointers should help you to prepare a coherent and compelling answer to that very open question.
For more interview advice contact Tom Fleet at BCL Legal.

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