It is one of the most common questions asked at the beginning of an interview. It seems like such an innocent way to begin the conversation.

The truth is that most candidates fumble their way through a long-winded response that basically tells me nothing I want or need to know.  I often find myself praying it will end so we can just move on to a different question. Then there are those candidates who have super slick responses that leave me cold.

When the interviewer asks, “Tell me about yourself,” candidates should hear, “Tell me about your skills and qualifications for this job.”

Your response should be job-specific. Relay three or four bits of information about why you are a good fit for the position and why working for this particular company is of interest to you. You might include a splash of gratitude for the opportunity to interview as a way of closing up your comments.

You want to show some enthusiasm and leave the interviewer with a strong desire to learn more about you. You don’t need to go into deep detail at this point. Just leave me wanting more.

When you are preparing for an interview, practice your employer-centered response to this question so that you will leave the gate with a bang rather than get off to a slow start.

Don’t tell me about yourself. Tell me why I would want to spend the next hour talking to you about my opening.

Happy interviewing!