How to Set the Stage for a Successful Introduction by Answering “Tell me about yourself”

by Interviewing

Chelsea Leon 

Talented Beauty Recruiter 

Most interviews start with the vague question, “Tell me about yourself,” which 90% of candidates struggle to answer because they are not sure whether to focus on personal or professional experiences. Our approach in guiding beauty professionals helps candidates to create a successful introduction, highlight a wow-factor and sets up critical talking points aligned with the job opportunity at hand.

3 key things to do when preparing to answer “Tell me about yourself”

  • Reframe this question. Imagine that they are asking in a polite way, “What makes you a good candidate for this role?”  We recommend you prepare a quick career synopsis of your background and what is vital to the role.  Practice your response as a 1-2-minute elevator pitch on your experience and how it relates directly to this position.

While some hiring managers truly might be inquiring about you as a person, your hobbies, etc., we have found that the professional synopsis is generally the goal of this question.  If your interviewer wants to know more personal information, they will ask you this directly.

  • Set the stage with talking points. “Tell me about yourself,” is an opportunity to set up your key qualifying achievements for the remainder of the interview.  As this introductory statement will set the stage for the entire interview, your goal is to strategically check off the boxes for what you know you bring to the table, how your experience relates to this company and the job you’re interviewing for. Gathering talking points based on your research on the company, industry, job description, and collaboration with your recruiting partner is key!  Draw parallels to their position’s needs, with your own experience and work history.  It is important to simplify this and focus on the highlights into 3-4 key points:

For example: A VP of Product Development is interviewing for a Product Innovation leadership role for a founder-led cosmetics brand. She provides the following answer to “Tell me about yourself”:

“I have over 15 years’ experience driving product innovation in a variety of categories, specifically (focusing on the segment/channel aligned with the current opportunity) in color cosmetics where I created a collection that moved ABC Beauty  beauty brand to #2 brand position and impacted sales by $20 million within Sephora.  My expertise is partnering with a founder on new concepts and executing development to bring these products to life.  I have managed lean teams and understand the urgency factor with indie brands to launch with fast timelines to meet projected trends. Based on your current product portfolio and expansion opportunities I’m excited to understand the growth goals for ABC brand because I see huge potential.”

This example sets up additional talking points for the interviewer to ask, such as:

– Tell me about your process working with a Founder?

– Tell me about the products that impacted sales by $20 million?

– Tell me about your leadership style managing direct reports?

– How quick were the timelines you supported?

  • Balance Simple with Specific. Sharing specific details is just as important as your concise answer. Your interviewer has probably met with several candidates that have made vague statements like, “I love product development and I love creating products that sell.” But the candidate that shares specifics of their experience as it relates directly to the role will stand out.  Note how the above example provides the specific data (that her collection led to $20 million in growth in Sephora) and is concise. This is the goal!

Statistically, 4 out of 5 hiring managers can make a judgment on first impressions within the first ten minutes of an interview (SHRM). “Tell me about yourself,” is a critical question and our strategy in showcasing your professional achievements aligned with the job opportunity creates the “Wow” factor and creates a solid first impression to continue to build upon during the interview process.

“Tell me about yourself,” when answered strategically can create a powerful introduction to the hiring manager and set the stage for critical qualifying talking points to maximize the interview timeframe. We have found these tips to be highly effective and continue to see positive results with the candidates that follow our guidance.

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Statistically, 4 out of 5 hiring managers can make a judgment on first impressions within the first ten minutes of an interview (SHRM)

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