Tough Interview Questions: "Tell Me About Yourself" - Work in Sports Podcast e137
Every interviewer starts with "So tell me a little something about yourself" -- why do they ask this and how should I answer it? We've got you covered on this weeks episode!
Hi everybody I’m Brian Clapp, Director of Content for WorkinSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast.
Fred Hoiberg of the Bulls just got fired, Mike McCarthy of the Packers just got fired, and last night Bill Belichick told Adam Theilen to shut the F- up.
I love sports. I mean the firing part always stinks, but the soap opera, dramatic effect of sports…it’s just awesome. You never know what’s next.
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Let’s get into today’s question – it comes in from Corie A –
A few weeks ago I joined the Facebook group for the Work In Sports podcast and was moved by all the great feedback I received after sharing that I was feeling a little defeated in looking for a job in the sports industry. Since then I have been applying to internships and jobs for the MiLB, MLB and other organizations. I have heard back from a few teams and have scheduled phone calls with them. In the past I always feel very anxious in interviews when asked the simple question of "tell me a little about yourself". My question to you is how do you answer that?
Corie – this is a really great question. Before I get into it – Corie references our private facebook group for this here podcast. It’s a great group of over 1,000 people and growing who share advice, answer questions and network with each other, I moderate…and am in there all the time. In fact, I’m going to do a Facebook Live session Thursday Dec 6th at 7:30 pm in that group – so join in! Search for the Work in Sports podcast on facebook, jump into the conversation and join me on facebook live on Thursday!
Back to the question…
With all the advice I give I try to go really in depth and high level…I try to push myself to give you new ideas to chew on… but you know what, sometimes it’s very important to go back to the basics.
And this question you ask is the start of just about every single interview you will ever be a part of.
So let’s dig into this!
“Tell me a little about yourself”
There are two main reasons interviewers ask this question.
1: It’s a bit of a stall technique for the interviewer.
Maybe they weren’t 100% ready to get started and they wanted a moment to get their thoughts together. They just got out of another meeting, they had some other thing come up, they had an issue, or a project that they were behind on and worked right up until your interview started. Maybe they want to review your resume a bit and refresh their memory on you before they really dig in.
So they ask this layup question, just to buy themselves a little time. Managers are not perfect beings, they aren’t on schedule every moment, they don’t plan for every contingency or situation…sometimes they stall or improvise. They dance! So this question can be just a moment to put you on the spot so they can get organized.
2: And this is the really important one – it’s a confidence/personality test.
The easiest way for a interview to discover who you are is to listen to you talk about yourself. There is no trickery, it’s not a complex question, it’s not confusing…it’s your story, and no one can tell it but you.
They ask this question to see what you have. Are you charismatic, passionate, articulate, well-spoken, confident, engaged, enthusiastic… there is so much you can pick up from this simple question in the first two minutes of the interview.
I don’t have the actual data, but let’s say I’ve conducted 100 job interviews over my career…it’s likely more than that, but this is a nice even number. I’d guess…70-80 of them I knew after this first question they weren’t going to be a match.
They say it takes less than 5 seconds to feel like you’ve fallen in love with someone when meeting them…well the same is true in the interview process, I could usually tell after this question if someone had what I wanted.
It wasn’t about what they said, it was about how they said it. I knew they didn’t have that special quality I was looking for. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a job in the medical industry or the sports industry… confidence speaks loud.
This question “tell me about yourself” was how I would judge you as a person – what have you got. If you can’t handle this question…you won’t handle the more important ones. If you can’t describe yourself articulately and with personality, and with some excitement and passion… thand you don’t have “it” and you aren’t my match.
When we have our business meetings at work in sports, we often compare ourselves to dating sites, because finding love is about finding a match, and the same can be said about finding a job…you are finding a compatible match between yourself and your work. It’s a similar process, minus the obvious.
With that as a backdrop, this first moment is so important, this first impression smile and connection means the world. I’ve had previous podcast episodes on first impressions and on displaying confidence, so I want go into too much depth here… but suffice it to say that is what the hiring manager is looking for.
In sports we talk about players getting in the zone.. like Steph Curry hits 4 threes in a row and a crazy fadeaway baseline jumper… next you know he’s flipping one from just inside half court and the announcers all say the same thing “that was a heat check” wants to see just how hot he is.
Well, this question “tell me a little about yourself” is a confidence check…we want to see how you handle yourself. That simple.
So now you are probably wondering… how do I answer the question?
Do not just recite your resume… your experience will be the foundation of the conversation, but it shouldn’t just be a repeat of your resume. Tell the story of your resume!
Here’s what I mean… if I was talking about my early career I’d say something like this –
I was hired by CNN/Sports Illustrated right out of college to be a production assistant, and I’ll tell you it was crazy hours, late nights and intense…but I loved every minute of it. The pressure of the deadline, the constant flow of news and information and working together as a team towards one singular nightly goal of making an incredible TV program… I was fired up and excited every single day. I learned how to be an individual contributor, conquering assigned tasks, but also how to function as part of a larger team. I also found out how important it was to have attention to detail, there was no room and no tolerance for errors. We had to be 100% all the time. I loved that pressure.”
That’s how you “tell me a little about yourself”.
Last week on the show I had on Kristina Wedseltoft, Community Relations Coordinator for the Indiana Pacers and I said in my intro to the interview, Kristina sounds like she has a smile on her face. You could tell she loves her job, you could tell she wanted to do everything to the best of her ability and that it mattered to her.
This is the vibe you need to give off.
Answering this question is about a vibe… about swag…about “it”… it’s not about… first I started here, then I went there, and now I am here. Sell me on why you are you.
And don’t be afraid to tell a little about you outside of work. Don’t go overboard, don’t spend the entire time talking about how you love play the ukulele in your downtime, but a little explanation of you is always cool too.
Your experience is the foundation of your story about yourself, but you have to make it a story! You have to sell you!
Now here’s where that flips and why internships are so damn important. I had an intern once, who was incredible at his job. I mean truly stellar. But he was quiet, seemed scared, had little to no charisma…but I ended up hiring him for a job because I knew he could do the gig I needed.
If he didn’t have the internship and hadn’t proven himself with me first hand…I never, ever would have hired him. It is incredibly important to do internships, prove your worth, work hard and crush it because that might be your best shot at a job…since you’ve already proven yourself.
I think that covers it Corie! Good luck on your next interview! Answer that question with confidence!!
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