Use these templates from career coaches to prepare your answer to the most asked interview question

Two women sit in chairs opposite eachother dressed professionally

It may be a job seeker’s market, but that doesn’t mean applicants can risk tanking an interview. 

There were 9.2 million job openings in the United States at the end of May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. But as the "Great Resignation" continues to sweep the nation and employees leave their jobs at record rates, the job-market competition is growing. 

Zety, an online résumé service, identified the most commonly asked interview questions through a survey of over 500 professionals. "Tell me about yourself" took the top spot as the most commonly asked question.

Job seekers may be tempted to share their life story when they’re asked this question, but FlexJobs career coaches Cidnye Work and Toni Frana, said employers want to hear about applicants’ professional skills. 

"Highlighting direct accomplishments and achievements lets employers know right away what value you can bring to their organization and gives an additional layer of credibility and validation to the skills you are mentioning," Work said. 

Work and Frana shared two examples of how to effectively answer the question. Interviewees should focus on translating their success at previous jobs to their ability to succeed at the job they’re applying for, they said.

The most effective answers focus on professional achievements

Applicants should practice their answer and keep it between 30 seconds and one minute long, Work said. 

Since job seekers have a limited time to respond, Work and Frana said it’s important to prioritize communicating about transferable skills from past jobs. Look at the job description to identify the specific skills the employer is looking for.

It’s likely your experience won’t perfectly align with the company, Work and Frana said. But in your answer, try to draw parallels between your recent job experience and the work you’ll be doing in the new position. 

The job description isn’t the only place job seekers can draw inspiration from. 

"Looking at the company mission statement, vision, and values can also give a job seeker a good idea of what kinds of things to focus on when they are answering," Work said.

 Use these templates to answer the question

Work answered this question from the perspective of a marketing and communications professional. 

"My background and expertise are in marketing and communications. I leverage client needs, data-driven insights, and creative storytelling to increase engagement, awareness, and revenue.

My experience spans various industries and sectors, including nonprofits, agency, and corporate. 

Because of my growth mindset and passion for innovation, I have been able to effectively persuade senior executives to be bold and try new approaches when it comes to marketing and communications. As a direct result of this, I have been able to increase retention for organizations by 50%, drive new business and revenue streams that led to deals of up to $100,000, and double the user-engagement metrics across multiple platforms. Before I worked at [company name], its email marketing was nonexistent. Now, we have people begging to join our Listserv!

While I have loved getting to grow my career in a management role and lead teams to success, I have realized that my passion lies in day-to-day, hands-on work, which is why I’m excited to get back to an independent-contributor role at your company."

Frana’s example is for an account manager applying for a health-coach role. 

"I’ve always been passionate about helping people, and my career experience has allowed me to provide various types of coaching, support, and customer service to people across various industries. What I’m most excited about is when I’m able to support people in a coaching capacity when they’re trying to reach a specific goal. Whether it’s a personal goal or a goal for their team, I thrive when partnering with customers to support them in achieving these objectives.

For the past three years, as an account manager supporting clients with new product implementation, I’ve leveraged my problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to ensure the client experience is positive and exceeds expectations. My strengths are strategic planning with my clients, collaborating to plan, and setting reasonable and SMART goals so they’re able to achieve the success they envision for themselves and their organizations. I continually receive five-star ratings from my clients, and I consistently hear that I’m able to make an overwhelming process seem manageable and achievable.

That’s why I’m excited for this opportunity to coach clients to better health and wellness using my strengths in communication, relationship building, and customer service, as well as my passion for health and wellness. I believe I would be a great fit for the clients you serve at [company name]. " 

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Rachel DuRose August 4, 2021 at 11:33PM

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