Being asked to talk about yourself is such a broad question, yet it’s the default that most interviews start with. For candidates it’s awkward to answer because although it may seem like a logical starting point, do you talk about skills, success, interests, or career ambitions?
Without knowing more about the person interviewing you and what they’re looking for, it can be a bit of a gamble. Talk about success and career ambitions and it may be perceived as arrogant, are skills a safer bet?
In reality, there’s no rule for getting it right because interview questions and how they’re answered will always be subjective. Your best bet is to be yourself and answer in a way that comes naturally.
You want to have a future focus, showing what you can bring to a role and how you can deliver value. In senior roles especially, interviewers want to see this quantified, not talked about in broad terms. Saying you saved costs on a project by maintaining a timeline is far more powerful when you can put a number to it. Therefore, when preparing for an interview, if you’ve had that kind of impact, make a point of looking those figures up so that you can quote them confidently.
Start with talking about your current role, focusing on what you’ve contributed through your skills and experience. The reason for this is that it can naturally lead into talking about why you’re applying for the role on offer. And more importantly opens up the opportunity to start asking a few questions of your own.
Hone in on what attracts you most to the role and ask questions that come naturally. This is an easy way to showcase your expertise because the type of questions you ask will typically demonstrate how well you know the industry. If you have knowledge or experience working with emerging technologies asking about how these are being applied to an aspect of a project provides you with an opportunity to discuss ways in which you could add more value. It also shows that while you’ve built up experience over the course of your career, you’re still actively learning and keeping up to date on factors impacting the industry. This is attractive for employers.
Having confidence in an interview is about knowing what you have to offer and being able to communicate it effectively. Take the time to summarise that in your mind prior to an interview and it’ll set you up for success.