Oct. 1, 2021 – The University of Houston Law Center’s Career Development Office recently closed its five-session Summer Chat Series by hosting the virtual event, “Tell me about Yourself − How to Master the Question Everyone Hates.”
The panel was led by CDO members Assistant Dean of Career Development Tiffany Tucker, Associate Director for Career Development Chandria Jackson and Assistant Directors for Career Development Paul Klinger and Anton Montano. Together, they provided students with guidance on how to prepare for answering one of the most challenging interview questions by conveying strengths applicable to the job without reiterating a résumé or oversharing unrelated details.
Open-ended questions, like tell me about yourself, are designed to give an employer a true sense of the interviewee, bringing résumé attributes to life. When preparing for an interview, focus on the role you are applying for, its demands and responsibilities, and merge its requirements with personal experiences and applicable skills sought by the employer, illustrating yourself as the best choice for the position.
“Answers should be succinct, strong, and every sentence should have meaning directly tied into the question asked,” said Assistant Dean of Career Development Tiffany Tucker “You want to have some kind of formula and structure to how you answer your interview questions, and then it’s just practice, practice, practice.”
The CDO presented three different themes a candidate can use to respond to the tell me about yourself question. The first theme for introductory interview preparation was three steps, detailing present actions, relatable past activities and future aspirations honed to exemplify skills applicable to the job by explaining current job status or activities, role and legal focus, the passion that influenced a career in law and vision for the future if selected for the position.
“Think about what attributes, personality traits, skills, strengths and talents describe you that you want to keep hitting on,” Tucker said. “This helps you to stay on message even if interrupted by outside events.”
Chandria Jackson, Associate Director for Career Development, presented a theme of “Take 5,” designating essential steps to connect with employers on both personal and professional levels.
Sparking positive reinforcement in job skill and personality, Jackson highlighted speaking about personal basics, relevant experiences, interest in the field as well as the employer and a strong conclusion that reinforces talent, motivation and fit for the position.
“Think about the information you give here and how it sets the tone for the interview,” Jackson said. “Answering this question [introduces the] things you want to talk about and sets the stage for you to showcase your talents and abilities for the employer later in the interview.”
“Tailor your answer to the role and the employer with whom you are interviewing,” said Anton Montano, Assistant Director for Career Development said. “Research the employer’s work, their goals and their client base and practice areas, and think about how you might connect in that position.”
Paul Klinger, Assistant Director for Career Development, noted important do’s and don'ts for answering the “tell me about yourself” interview question, such as pinpointing interview strengths and how to connect to the interviewer through passionate answers, professionalism and relaying a story that features skills and talents applicable to the job while avoiding oversharing personal details, straying off topic and rambling without focus.
“You want to start off by preparing yourself, by recognizing what you like about yourself to relay to the interviewer so that they get a description that fully captures what you are excited about presenting to them,” Klinger said. “This is a first impression, so keep everything positive, and make every sentence count.”