This is one of the first questions that interviewers ask and one of the easiest to fail at.
Talk about each section of your resume in a linear, clear, enthusiastic way. Do not go overly in-depth into any one item, but do not remain too superficial either. Touch on your academic, professional, leadership, technical, and personal qualifications, concluding with a statement about why these experiences are important for your industry.
Don’t let the wording of this question limit your response. Every candidate will have experience and leadership positions. What sets someone apart is a unique personality and interests. An interviewer ultimately wants to know if you are a good cultural fit for the company. Let your personality shine through and talk about the things you do outside of school and work.
The goal is to develop a 360-degree profile of yourself that shows why you would create value for the firm and why you are an attractive candidate for the position.
- Know your resume intimately—be prepared to answer this question without glancing.
- Have at least two stories prepared for each item on your resume that capture what you did and how you did it.
- Keep your answer within 2 minutes.
- Begin with your academics.
- Give your year and major, and explain why you chose your department, how it relates to your life, and how it relates to a career with this company.
- Name any academic honors you received.
- Speak about your professional experiences, starting with your most relevant one.
- Highlight only one thing about each job position that represents the most value to the company.
- Share the one or two lessons or qualifications you received from each item.
- Discuss your leadership positions outside of your professional activities.
- Explain why you chose to participate in this organization and what drove you to your leadership position. Speak about the positive difference that you made for the organization and what you learned about yourself.
- Highlight only one thing about each leadership position that you are most proud of, and that brought the most value to the organization.
- Do not skip any of your experiences. If the experience is listed on your resume, it should be one that you are proud of and that taught you a valuable lesson about yourself and your career.
- Explain how the leadership role applies and prepares you for a career with the company your interviewing with.
- Touch on your technical skills.
- A portion of this answer has to address your basic skills, including computer proficiency and languages.
- Speak about your interests, awards, and passions in life.
- This is the part of your response that makes you a person—not just a candidate.
- You and your interviewer might find that you have similar interests, which is the best way to establish a personal relationship.
- Interests are a way to anchor you in the mind of the interviewer. On your follow up email, you can speak about the common ground you two share.
Pitfalls You Must Avoid
- Do not begin to talk and talk endlessly about one particular experience. This question is designed to be answered in a clear and concise format. The interviewer only wants to hear the most important part of each of your experiences.
- Do not leave out your interests. Even if your interest is something as simple as “food”, you should list “cooking” as your interest. You may find that you and your interviewer share a passion for gastronomy, which is a great way to establish a meaningful relationship.