The first time I was prompted with “Tell me about yourself” in an interview, I reeled off a canned spiel about how I love helping people -- I was positive it would impress my interviewer. But after my cliched answer triggered a disappointed look on her face, I panicked.

I ended up rambling about how "fun" I was, citing my time as the lead singer and guitarist for a Blink-182 cover band in the sixth grade as compelling evidence. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.Click here to download our free guide on how to succeed in your new marketing  job.If you’re in the process of interviewing for a new role, you know how difficult it can be to find a unique and compelling answer to this common prompt. "Tell me about yourself" is extremely open-ended. But it’s also how most interviews begin, so your answer has a huge impact on your interviewer’s first impression of you. And as the old saying goes, you never get a second chance at first impressions. So to nail your interview, it’s crucial to nail this question.

To gain some insight on the best way to respond to “Tell me about yourself”, I asked Claire McCarthy, a recruiter for HubSpot’s Growth Team, about the best way to respond to the prompt.

She said there’s no cookie cutter approach to responding to it, but if you view the prompt as a chance to pitch your value proposition to a hiring manager, you can make a strong first impression.

“There's no ideal answer to ‘Tell me about yourself’,” she says. “But I always encourage candidates to create a value proposition for themselves that touches on a couple things.” According to Claire, the ideal value proposition covers:

  • Your motivation to come in to the office and do your job every day
  • The specific challenges that excite you
  • What you can bring to the table
  • Why you want to work for the company you’re interviewing at
  • Why you want to work for them now
  • Why this job is a good fit

Armed with Claire’s advice, we’ll help you develop a strong, cohesive value proposition that answers all of these questions. And hopefully, you’ll be able to use it in your next interview to not only nail the “Tell me about yourself” prompt but also to land your next job.

1. Describe what motivates you.

One of the most important (and common) traits hiring managers typically look for in candidates is their intrinsic motivation. Research suggests intrinsically motivated employees produce a higher quality of work than extrinsically motivated employees do.

So if you can recount a personal anecdote that proves you’re a craft-driven professional, and not just someone who is enamored by the company’s lucrative stock options, you’ll immediately grab the hiring manager’s attention. To do so, lead off your value proposition like this:

“As I approach my five-year anniversary working in the content marketing space, I’ve learned a lot about myself. More specifically, I’ve realized I feel the most fulfilled when I can craft gripping stories that actually help and inspire people.”

2. Explain what challenges excite you.

Hiring managers don’t generally hire candidates to maintain their team’s status quo. They hire candidates who will challenge it and propel their team to greater heights.

To show that you can be a catalyst on the team, speak to the challenges about your industry or this particular role that excite you, just like the example below:

“Today, we both work in an industry where countless brands fight for a limited amount of attention, saturating our space with mediocre content. It’s never been harder to cut through the noise. But this doesn’t intimidate or discourage me. It actually excites me because it forces me to keep innovating and finding new ways to connect with an audience.”

3. Highlight your most relevant skills.

Once you explain what challenges pique your interest, you can then naturally segue into how you possess the necessary skills to overcome them and excel at the role, like the example below:

“There’s a fierce battle for attention in content marketing right now, and it has pushed me to master both my writing and analytical skills. Data drives decisions in our industry, and I know if I want to make an impact on a team, I need to be both a creative and a strategist. Thankfully, my ability to adapt has allowed me to pick up the necessary skills to accurately extract insights from data and weave them into a compelling story.”

4. Spell out why you want to work at the company you’re interviewing at.

Highlighting your most relevant skills will capture your hiring manager’s attention. But to truly impress her, communicate how your passion and skills align with the company’s interests and goals, like the example below:

“That’s why I think I’d be a high-impact employee here -- you guys care a lot about doing two things right: making objective, data-driven decisions and telling great stories. I believe I can help you get better at both of these things.”

5. Illustrate why you want to work for the company right now.

After you spell out why you want to work for the company, delve into why you want to work for them right now. This shows that you took initiative to learn about the company’s most recent updates, and the hiring manager will definitely take note of your proactiveness. Check out the example below:

“This is also one of the best times to work at HubSpot -- I was at INBOUND in September and was impressed with all your new product launches. It’s clear that HubSpot is doubling down on innovation and strives to propel to the top of the industry. I’d be pumped to be apart of that.”

6. Prove that you’d be a good fit for the job.

To pack a punch at the end of your value proposition, show the hiring manager how you’ve used your skills to improve your current team by quantifying your accomplishments. 

These previous experiences will prove your worth and qualify you as the employee who can take the team to the next level. Cap off your answer with something like this:

“And as the top-performing content strategist at my current company, where I’ve doubled blog views and grown our email subscription list by 40% in only one year, I think I could help you develop a killer content strategy, write some of the best stories in MarTech, and build an even more loyal audience than you boast now."

"Tell me about yourself" Sample Answer

All together, a strong answer to the “Tell me about yourself” prompt would look like this:

As I approach my five-year anniversary working in the content marketing space, I’ve learned a lot about myself. More specifically, I’ve realized I feel the most fulfilled when I can craft gripping stories that actually help and inspire people.

Today, we both work in an industry where countless brands fight for a limited amount of attention, saturating our space with mediocre content. It’s never been harder to cut through the noise. But this doesn’t intimidate or discourage me. It actually excites me because it forces me to keep innovating and finding new ways to connect with an audience.

There’s a fierce battle for attention in content marketing right now, and it has pushed me to master both my writing and analytical skills. Data drives decisions in our industry, and I know if I want to make an impact on a team, I need to be both a creative and a strategist. Thankfully, my ability to adapt has allowed me to pick up the necessary skills to accurately extract insights from data and weave them into a compelling story.

That’s why I think I’d be a high-impact employee here -- you guys care a lot about doing two things right: making objective, data-driven decisions and telling great stories. I believe I can help you get better at both of these things.

This is also one of the best times to work at HubSpot -- I was at INBOUND in September and was impressed with all your new product launches. It’s clear that HubSpot is doubling down on innovation and strives to propel to the top of the industry. I’d be pumped to be apart of that.

And as the top-performing content strategist at my current company, where I’ve doubled blog views and grown our email subscription list by 40% in only one year, I think I could help you develop a killer content strategy, write some of the best stories in MarTech, and build an even more loyal audience than you boast now.

Framing “Tell me about yourself” as “Pitch yourself”.

“Tell me about yourself” might be one of the most dreaded prompts in the history of interviews. But if you understand why hiring managers prod candidates with it, you can turn your answer into your pitch. And if you structure your value proposition the way we did above, you’ll be able to nail the “Tell me about yourself” prompt, make a strong first impression, and significantly boost your odds of landing the job.

how to succeed in your new marketing job
 First 100 Days Marketing Job

Originally published Nov 6, 2018 6:00:00 AM, updated November 06 2018

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