But that openness is what makes it such a difficult query to answer. Which of many possible responses should you give, what things should you mention, and how much should you say? Whether the situation is social or professional, a halting or rambling answer can really get the interaction off on the wrong foot, stymying the emerging conversation and hindering your first impression.
It breaks the ice and gets the conversation going. Giving a confident, effective answer to this frequent first question will set the tone for the rest of the interview. But the open-endedness of the query causes many candidates to stumble right out the gate. How far should they go back in their work history?
Should they talk about their education? Should they share a chronological timeline of all their previous jobs, or just highlights from their most recent one? A chronological monologue on your education and work experience. A soliloquy on your own goals and interest in the job. I really liked my last job, but then the foreman started having an affair with my wife, and of course he pushed me out. How to Respond Potential employers sort through hundreds of resumes and may interview a dozen candidates.
After awhile, all those guys in suits and gals in pencil skirts turn into one big blur of resume bullet points, and the hiring manager will start categorizing folks and lumping them together. Your job is thus to break from the pack right from the get-go — as soon as they say: Keep your response short. Your answer should last no longer than about a minute. Any longer and the interviewer will start to lose interest. Start with a brief bio of your work history. Succinctly summarize the highlights of your resume.
What unique skills and experiences do you have that set you apart from other candidates? How do your own goals align with those of the potential employer? How are you going to bring value to the company and help them reach their objectives? I feel confident I can do the same for your company. One way to walk this line is to mention things that point to positive underlying qualities without spelling them out explicitly.
Maybe they went to the same college, belonged to the same fraternity, or once worked for the same company as you. People like people who are like themselves. Keep it all relevant. Relevancy is the byword of a good response. I earned my degree in accounting in three years, and also started my own business my sophomore year, which I was able to sell after I graduated.
Think of all the promising follow-up questions the interviewer can now ask: What kind of business did you start in college? How did you graduate from college in 3 years? Why did Company Y decide to make you manager at such a young age?
What new products did you introduce at Company Y? With a little effort, you can really get the interview off on the right foot.