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Tell your story well

Published on Friday, 23 May 2014
Nick Wheatley

When preparing for an interview, most people go over education, work achievements, projects they have run, successes they have had, and challenges they have faced and overcome. Little consideration is given to what is usually the first question an interviewer will ask: "can you tell me a bit about yourself?"

This seems to be the simplest of questions, but as an opener it is a chance to get the interview off to an interesting and engaging start - or not! You aren't just a list of qualifications and jobs; an interviewer can see most of this from the résumé. Asking you to talk about yourself should be a chance to do just that: tell a story.

Of course, you must talk about the jobs you have had, but also talk about experiences, reasons for the choices you have made, how these made you feel and what kind of person it has made you.

Candidates should be mindful of how long they talk in this section. The best answers I have heard are relatively concise. They start from early career, discussing experiences, work and life in chronological order, with the most time spent on the most recent and most relevant jobs.

Bringing this answer to a conclusion is also tricky and usually handled clumsily. I have found that asking the interviewer something along the lines of: "that's an overview of me, is there anything I can go into in more detail for you?" naturally helps move things on and makes it more a discussion than a stuffy Q&A session.

Much of an interview is about how you connect with the interviewer. "Do I like this person?" is something everyone interviewing you will ask. If the answer is "yes" you have more of a chance. You only get one crack at a first impression.

Nick Wheatley, manager for IT and corporate functions – Hong Kong, ConnectedGroup

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