CivilianJobNews.com - The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

From the Blog:

Answering the MOST Dreaded Interview Question

by Jessie Richardson, Contributing Writer

Share |

Article Sponsored by: TSA


If you have been methodically executing a well-prepared job search strategy and had your military resume prepared or reviewed by a professional military resume writer, chances are, it is time to start thinking about interviewing. If there is one question an interviewee can bank on, it is the dreaded, "Tell me about yourself." Most candidates find this question to be a particularly difficult question to answer becauseit requires the ability to adeptly handle one's self in an unstructured setting. Instead of dreading the question, focus your energy on understanding the purpose behind it and preparing accordingly. Seize this question as an opportunity to describe yourself positively and focus the interview on your strengths.

The method behind the madness:

  • A lot of interviewers open with it as an icebreaker or because they're still getting organized, but they all use it to get a sense what you think is important.
  • Many interviewers want to see how articulate and confident you are to determine what type of impression you would make on the people whom you would come into contact with on the job.

The wrong response:

  • DO NOT, under any circumstances, ask, "What do you want to know?" This tells the interviewer that you are unprepared for the interview and, potentially, the job. Have a plan and rehearse it.
  • Avoid rambling, recapping your life story, or digging into ancient work history or personal matters. Understand that, as harsh as this may sound, the interviewer really doesn't want to know about you as a person. Not yet anyway.

The correct response:

  • The interviewer wants to know that you can do the job, fit into the team, are ambitious and accomplished in your prior positions, and how can you help the organization. Start with your most recent experience and explain why you are well qualified for the position. Sell what the buyer is buying.
  • Hiring managers don't want to look unprepared by reading your military resume in front of you, so be prepared to provide them with some topics for discussion. Properly answered, this question can put you in the driver's seat and steer the interview in a positive direction.
  • Be brief - offer two or three interesting things that may be useful to the interviewer. Your answer should take about one minute.

Rather than dread this question, embrace it. Prepare an answer and practice it. With a well-planned strategy, it allows you to set the tone for the rest of the interview, setting you up to answer the questions you most want to answer.

 

Jessie Richardson, CPRW, is director of resume services at MilitaryResumes.com, the military-to-civilian transition experts. She is a Naval Academy graduate and a regular commentator on job search best practices for military-experienced job seekers. Read more transition advice online at the MilitarytoCivilian.com blog.

Return to May/June Issue