The latest instalment in our ‘How to answer’ series looks at the question “What interests you about this role?” This very general question can seem tricky to answer – exactly what should you focus on? Often it’s another way for the recruiter to ask “Why should we hire you?”. It’s not enough to simply say “I’m a great fit for the role”. Instead, your answer needs to touch on your relevant abilities, skills and experiences as well as demonstrate your interest in the company. It’s an opportunity to show why you’re ideal for the job and why you’re excited about it.
You should ideally frame your answer in a way that shows enthusiasm (for the role and the company) and understanding (of the role, the company and how you can add value). It’s essential to research the company and role beforehand and have a strong answer prepared. When considering your response, we recommend you focus on three key areas: the job, the company and how you fit. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about these areas and what your answer might sound like.
- Talk about your priorities and preferences – identify three key things you really like about the role.
- Discuss areas of the role in which you excel and support those with examples using the STAR technique. These examples should demonstrate your accomplishments and success in the context of the role you’re applying for.
- Mention the opportunities the role offers to further develop special knowledge or skills.
Example: This role really interests me because I’d be responsible for X, Y and Z. In my current role, I manage X and Y, and I’ve excelled at providing X to various internal and external stakeholders. I’m keen to continue building on that success while also developing specialist expertise in the area of Z.
- Mention the company’s reputation or history of success (if relevant) or discuss a recent innovation.
- Demonstrate an understanding or appreciation of the work culture (based on what you’ve learnt through friends, colleagues, media etc.).
- Talk about a problem or issue that you know needs to be addressed (and your interest in supporting or participating in that process).
Example: I also value the company’s long history of success in the market and recent innovations that are seeing significant market share gains. I heard about the issue with distribution of ABC – I faced a similar problem in my last role, which we solved by rethinking the customer experience. I’d love to be able to contribute to something similar again.
- Compare the job description with your experience, and explain how you’ll be able to contribute, again using examples from your past to demonstrate success.
- Discuss your fit with company culture.
- Mention your interest in career progression (if relevant).
- Talk about any experience you have with the company (for example, that you use their products or services).
Example: My previous experience and success would help me to achieve some quick wins in certain areas, including XXX. I’m also excited at the prospect of learning more about XXX. The company’s mission aligns with my own professional values and I believe I’d be a great fit culturally. I loved what I read in the recent article by the CEO about the initiatives the company is undertaking to ensure ongoing enhancement to culture and employee engagement.
As with all interview questions, remember to answer the “What interests you about this role?” question strategically and with enthusiasm. Give the recruiter something to think about – a point of differentiation from the next candidate. Work out a response that includes something about the role you’re going for, the company and your suitability, and you’ll come off looking great.
Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
What’s the best way to stand out during the application process and get yourself an interview? In today’s job market, it’s common for recruiters to receive upwards of 100 applications for one role, so there has to be something special about yours. Here’s how to give yourself the best chance of success.
Customising your job application to suit the specific requirements of a role is one of the most effective things you can do to secure an interview. When we talk about a ‘job application’, we’re referring to a collection of documents: your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and response to any selection criteria or specific questions.
While you might think it’s too hard or time consuming to customise this content every time, we encourage you to look at your application from the recruiter’s perspective and ask yourself ‘What’s in it for them?’ Your application should immediately present you as someone who can add significant value in the role. If it doesn’t do that, you’re not giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed.
Follow these steps to create your best ever job application.
Step 1. Research: Read the job ad carefully. If possible, obtain a more detailed job description from the recruiter and identify exactly what’s required. Highlight skills or experience that seem important and make notes. If you know the company, view their website and search for any news or recent activity that may impact on the job. And take some time to understand the corporate culture. Emulating the kind of language the company uses and/or writing just one sentence in your cover letter referencing a current challenge or opportunity for the company could mean the difference between success and failure at this initial stage.
Step 2. Sell yourself: If you don’t show the recruiter you have what they’re looking for, you probably won’t succeed. This process is simple once you know their pain points (i.e. problems) because you can clearly demonstrate how you have the best solution. Again, customisation is important, so make sure your documents address as many of the role requirements as possible. Use previous successes and achievements to show how you’ve added value in the past.
We recommend including a strong, carefully crafted career profile as the first section of your resume that gives a snapshot of your skills and experience. This also applies to your LinkedIn profile summary – you can tailor that section to cover off the key skills and attributes required in the role you’re applying for. In LinkedIn it’s not necessary to do this for every role, but if there is a role you’re applying for that involves new, different or unique skills that aren’t covered in your profile, you should incorporate them.
Selling yourself throughout your job history is also important. Within each role listed on your resume, provide examples of projects, successes and accomplishments where you added value.
A cover letter provides another important place to ‘sell yourself’ and is a great opportunity to customise content to the specific role and clearly state why you think you’re the ideal candidate.
Step 3. Use keywords: Once you know the top attributes a recruiter is looking for in a candidate, you can create a customised checklist of key capabilities. Your resume should already contain a section highlighting your key skills or capabilities. To tailor this section, check the job ad for important keywords and incorporate those into your list, and re-order your list so the most important/relevant skills come first. You can go one step further by rewording those points to suit the role.
Again, this applies to LinkedIn too – check you’ve covered off the main areas within your ‘Skills and Endorsements’ section. Writing a customised cover letter also allows you to use keywords – and it’s one of the best ways to make your application stand out. Research has shown that you literally have seconds to make a good first impression. If a recruiter receives a large number of applications, having a cover letter that highlights key skills, experience and achievements that are highly relevant to the role you’re applying for will help you get noticed.
Step 4. Tweak your experience: For certain people, getting strategic about how they present their experience in their resume is a good idea. But we only recommend doing that in the following cases:
1) When recent experience is not relevant. You can reorder roles to prioritise relevant experience from your earlier work history. Simply create a new section called ‘Relevant Employment History’, then move your most recent and other irrelevant roles to a later section called ‘Other Employment History’. This ensures the recruiter sees your relevant experience first but the section title will make it clear why that experience is not recent.
2) When you have 15+ years’ experience. We usually recommend going back 10–15 years in your resume – so long as that job history provides a good picture of your experience in the context of the role you’re applying for. Any more than that will unnecessarily date you, while also potentially providing too much information for the recruiter to read. Think of your resume as a concise sales tool rather than a lengthy list of everything you’ve ever done. However, be guided by the job ad – if it says you need 20 years’ experience then include it.
3) When you’ve been out of work for some time. We generally don’t recommend including hobbies or other interests in your resume (you can list anything relevant on LinkedIn), but if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while – or you’re new to it – you could include experience outside of full-time work. Think about things you’ve done that highlight your suitability for the role, such as freelance, consulting or volunteer work. List them in a similar way to your other jobs, with the role, organisation, dates and description of what you did.
If you’re serious about landing a great job, preparing a customised application for every role you apply for is something you should make time for. While it might seem tedious, the reward outweighs the effort. Be selective about the roles you apply for and create an application that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Would you like help preparing a top-quality job application or LinkedIn profile that helps you secure your dream job? Our experienced writers can help you create a professional resume, customised cover letter and LinkedIn profile designed to make employers sit up and take notice. To find out more, read about our Services.
Finding a job is a bit like a sales process. You are the candidate but you’re also the product – with features, benefits and great potential! So it’s important to position yourself well. Having an ‘elevator pitch’ about yourself as a job candidate can be hugely helpful. It lets you sum up your value and expertise in a compelling way – and then deliver it quickly and succinctly.
The idea of an elevator pitch is said to come from the old Hollywood studio days, when a screenwriter would catch an unsuspecting executive on an elevator ride and quickly pitch their idea. But have you ever thought about having your very own career elevator pitch?
Having a great pitch is important for a number of reasons. Imagine finding yourself in an elevator (or a coffee queue) with the hiring manager of the job you’ve always dreamed of. What would you say? It’s also a good way to start the conversation in a face-to-face interview or during a phone screen. Being able to clearly and succinctly articulate who you are, what you’ll bring and what you want from your next job is an essential job-search skill.
Creating your pitch
Below are some steps to follow that will help you develop a concise pitch that’s focused on your background and immediate goals, but also shows value in what you offer. Writing down your elevator pitch helps you get it right. Reading it out loud helps you refine it and ensure it rolls off the tongue.
- Who are you? Start by introducing yourself with your full name and a pleasantry such as, “Thanks for seeing me” or “It’s great to meet you!”
- What do you do? Provide a brief summary of what you do and where you’ve come from. You should include the most relevant information to the role you’re pitching for. That might include qualifications, work experience, personal attributes, and/or other specialties. If you’re not sure what to include at this point, just write everything down that comes to mind and refine it later.
- What do you want? Explain what you’re looking for. You might ask for the job, request some advice about a role or organise a meeting to discuss next steps. The ask should include why you’d be a good fit. You want to get your message across about what you’re looking for, but you also want to convey what’s in it for them (the recruiter).
- Now read back over what you’ve written and trim it down to 75–100 words. Delete any words that feel clunky or distract from your main point. Make it relevant, concise and easy to understand with no industry jargon.
Delivering your pitch
- Talk with confidence and make it conversational. Don’t speak too fast and try not to sound rehearsed.
- By memorising a general outline or key points, you’ll be able to modify your pitch to suit the situation. When you’re going for a job interview, review the job ad or role description and make sure you know your pitch in relation to that role.
- If you’re approaching someone outside of an interview, there’s a chance they won’t be open to your pitch. If that’s the case, stop and ask if you can call or email them instead.
Examples of an elevator pitch
In a job interview, my pitch might look something like this (after the introductions): “Thanks so much for seeing me today – I was thrilled to get the call. I’ve been with Katie Roberts Career Consulting for more than 10 years, during which time I’ve helped more than 1,500 people search for a new role. My background is in marketing communications and I’ve also worked on the Katie Roberts blog and newsletter for almost six years now. When I saw this role combining marketing and career consultancy, I was very excited. I’d love the opportunity to leverage my marketing skills and career market understanding to develop your new website further.”
If I bumped into someone whose company I’d like to work for, it might look more like this: “Hi, my name is Belinda. It’s great to meet you! I’ve been following you on Instagram for some time now. I’m a career consultant with 10 years’ experience helping people develop their LinkedIn profiles and prepare complex job applications. I’ve also worked on a leading career advice blog for almost six years, and held a number of senior marketing communications roles before that. I’ve seen your website and love the fresh, innovative concepts. I think my background could work really well for you. Would you mind if I called you next week to talk about how I might be able to help you?”
Great job seekers know their career elevator pitch and how to customise it depending on who they’re talking to. Spend some time getting yours right and you’ll boost your job-search efforts and strengthen your personal brand.
If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
Applying for a job these days usually involves sending your resume electronically, which may then be processed using an applicant tracking system. Recruiters and organisations are also increasingly using LinkedIn to recruit. This means that using keywords is an essential part of getting your application seen and demonstrating that you’re the best person for the role. Here’s how to identify the right keywords and use them effectively so you can get the job you want.
A high percentage of resumes are now scanned using applicant tracking systems (ATS), which means your resume may not even be seen by human eyes – unless it makes it through the initial round of scanning. More organisations are also using LinkedIn to find candidates. That means you need to use the right keywords in your resume, online profile and other content if you want your application to be seen.
A keyword is simply a specific word, set of words or phrase that relates to or describes a job, skill or experience. They can be general or specific – for example, ‘general manager’, ‘administrative assistant’, ‘report writing skills’ and ‘agile software development’ are keywords that a recruiter might use to search for candidates.
Regardless of the job you’re applying for, there are some common principles for selecting and using keywords effectively. Here are our top tips.
- Your name: Use your full name and ensure your online profile is consistent with your resume and other application documents. For example, if your resume says Greg Smith but your LinkedIn profile says Gregory C Smith, you’ve made it difficult for a recruiter to connect the two. There’s no need to include your full birth name if that’s not your preferred name. While we don’t recommend using nicknames, we do advise shortening (for example, Christopher to Chris) if that’s how you’re known in the workplace.
- Job title: Recruiters need candidates with experience that matches the role requirements. To get noticed, you should include your target job title. This doesn’t mean deceptively changing previous job titles, but simply tweaking title(s) to better describe what you did. With many of today’s organisations opting for more ‘interesting’ titles for employees, it can result in the title not necessarily articulating what you do (think ‘Director of First Impressions’ versus ‘Receptionist’). A good solution can be to use a slash to include two titles – for example, ‘Receptionist / Director of First Impressions’ or ‘Senior Administrative Assistant / Executive Assistant’. This will help you get found regardless of which title is being searched.
- Qualifications: Include relevant education, licences and certifications with the organisation that conducted the training as well as the year you completed it. Always include study you’re currently undertaking (with an estimated completion date/year). And translate difficult-to-understand qualifications (or those gained overseas) into the commonly understood equivalent. There’s no need to include high school qualifications unless you’re a recent graduate with no other training or education.
- Skills: Include a succinct list of relevant skills and capabilities focused on those most frequently mentioned in the job ad. You should create a section in your resume called ‘Key skills and capabilities’ or similar, which could include up to 15 individual skills, if necessary. This helps a recruiter to match your strengths with the right opportunity. And it’s just as important for your online profile as your resume. According to LinkedIn, members with five or more skills listed are contacted (messaged) up to 33 times more by recruiters than other LinkedIn members, and receive up to 17 times more profile views.
- Location: Many recruiters check your location so it’s important to include a city and state on your resume. If you’re searching for a new role in another state, you could say ‘relocating to Queensland in June’ or something similar. It’s also important to include your location on your LinkedIn profile. According to LinkedIn, more than 30% of recruiters will use advanced search based on location, so omitting it will reduce your chances of being found.
- Industry: Be sure to use commonly used keywords in your industry, such as ‘sales’, ‘marketing’, ‘information technology’ and ‘customer service’ to describe your field and area(s) of expertise. For LinkedIn, select an industry and sub-classification from the ‘Edit Intro’ section to better define your focus.
- Seniority: If it’s not clear from your job titles, use words such as ‘graduate’, ‘mid-level’, ‘senior’, ‘executive’ or ‘C Suite’ to show the level of seniority of past roles you’ve held or people you’ve dealt with.
- Legislation and regulations: Many roles require an in-depth understanding of, or experience interpreting and applying, laws or regulations. If that’s the case for your role, include the names of these laws, acts, regulations and codes of conduct on your resume, including shortened and extended versions if possible. Including memberships of industry groups and specific licences can also demonstrate in-depth understanding of a specific area and provides another way to include relevant keywords.
- Jargon: Include industry jargon and technical terms that are relevant and appropriate to your expertise and future goals. This includes acronyms, with the full description in brackets the first time they appear, so both versions are included.
When preparing your application and online profile, think like a recruiter filling the job you want. How is that job described in job ads? What skills, capabilities, qualifications and tools are required? Decide on your keywords based on the categories we’ve listed above. Then incorporate those keywords logically into your content.
Avoid madly listing or repeating keywords – this is known as ‘keyword stuffing’ and applicant tracking systems can easily recognise it and may reject your application. But get your keywords right and you’ll be well on your way to your next great job.
Would you like help preparing a top-quality job application or LinkedIn profile that focuses on the right keywords? Our experienced writers can help you create a professional resume and LinkedIn profile designed to make employers sit up and take notice. To find out more, read about our Services.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut – doing the same things, day in day out, without really enjoying them, but not giving it much thought. Work can become monotonous but most of us can’t afford to leave a job whenever the mood takes us. However, sometimes work starts to make us truly unhappy. Often we wait too long to leave or put off the decision because it’s easier to stay. So how can you tell if it’s time to move on from your job?
Recognising and accepting that it’s time to leave your job can be tough. You may have a ‘good’ job and work for a good company. Maybe you like your co-workers and get on well with your boss. But when it comes to your career, that’s not always enough. Simply feeling dissatisfied might not be a sufficient reason to leave, but there are certain situations that definitely indicate it could be time to move on. If any of the following apply to you, start planning now.
- Mondayitis is extending to the whole week: And your ‘bad week’ has turned into a ‘bad month’. Everyone has their off days or weeks. Things can go wrong, or maybe you feel overwhelmed and unable to get on top of things. However, if you’re constantly stressed or unhappy, waking up miserable most days and dreading going to work, that’s a sign it’s time to find something new.
- You’re bored: Feeling challenged at work is crucial for long-term satisfaction. If you find yourself doing the same things over and over, with nothing new to excite you, talk to your supervisor about your options. Ask if you can take on new or different responsibilities or tasks. If that isn’t an option, is there something in another department, or a special project you can work on for a short period of time to reignite your passion? If you can’t come to an agreement about new responsibilities, then it’s probably time to exit. You can help prevent the same thing happening again by asking questions in your next interview about career growth, support and development.
- You’re not achieving your desired work-life balance: Most of us are working more hours every week, which can compromise our health and wellbeing. With technology allowing us to be connected 24/7, it’s even more difficult to switch off. If you feel your employer is making it difficult for you to find time for friends, family or doing some of the things you love, it might be time to start searching for a new opportunity.
- You’re consistently overlooked for promotion: If you regularly put your hand up but you’re not really getting anywhere, what is the reason? Is someone standing in your way or are you doing something to sabotage your own success? If the problem is something out of your control, try raising the issue with your boss and if they struggle to provide a clear answer, it’s likely that the situation won’t change much in the future.
- Your company or industry is shrinking: If your company or industry as a whole is experiencing slow or negative growth, it might be time to get out while you still have a job.
- You dislike the people you work with: While it’s not viable that everyone gets on with everyone all the time, sometimes personality clashes just aren’t fixable. It’s important to know when that’s the case, and if it is, you may be better off looking for a new role.
- You don’t feel appreciated: It can be frustrating if you feel taken for granted or your advice is often ignored. If you work hard and are committed, you shouldn’t feel undervalued in the business. Talk to your boss about how you feel, and if they can’t provide a solution you’re happy with, you might want to consider your options.
We spend so much of our lives working, you owe it to yourself to ensure you enjoy going to work each day (or at least most days). If you’re working in a job that isn’t fulfilling, and you’re no longer learning and growing, it might be time to make a move.
Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to help you work out if it’s time to move on? Or perhaps you’ve already made the decision to leave and you need some help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy to secure your future? To find out more, read about our services.
Our new ‘How to answer’ series proved popular last month, when we looked at how to respond to the interview question, “Tell me about yourself”. This month’s question – “Why should we hire you?” – is just as important, and can be just as tricky to answer. You’ll need to prepare a compelling summary of why they should hire you, while remaining flexible enough to think and respond on the spot.
An interviewer’s main purpose is to collect information on candidates to help make the best decision about who to hire. They may ask this question in several ways, but your response will provide the same outcome. Examples include:
- Why should we hire you?
- Why are you the best candidate for the job?
- Why are you the right fit for the position?
- What would you bring to the position?
Even if you don’t get asked this question specifically, you should try to communicate the key reasons they should hire you throughout the interview. If you are asked this question, you’ll have a great opportunity to present a concise sales pitch describing what you offer. You’re usually being hired to solve a problem or address a requirement. The better you demonstrate how you’re going to do that, the more chance you’ll have of getting the job. Follow our step-by-step process to prepare.
- Create a pitch. Identify the skills, qualifications and experience you need to succeed in the role, and relate them back to yourself. Do this by reviewing the job description and highlighting key requirements, including qualifications, specialist technical skills, experience, soft skills and personality traits. Then match them with the qualities you possess. Select three of your strongest areas and make these the core of your answer. When you’re developing your pitch, focus on the positives and keep linking your response back to the company and the position.
- Research the organisation. Once you’ve identified the personal and professional capabilities you need to highlight, do some research on the company. Pay particular attention to social media accounts since this is where you’ll get a better understanding of company culture. This is important because employees who are a good cultural fit are more likely to feel satisfied in their jobs. This generally leads to higher retention rates, and since recruitment is a costly and time-consuming exercise, organisations tend to hire based on shared values and cultural beliefs.
- Tell stories. Stories paint a picture and a picture paints a thousand words! Rather than simply stating you have a particular skill or personality trait, support it with a story that ‘shows’ rather than just ‘tells’. For each of the points you highlighted above, think of a time you used that skill or trait to achieve a positive result. Structure your story using the STAR formula to ensure you cover all the important areas, and make sure your examples end with a positive outcome or result. (Want more tips on using storytelling to engage and persuade in the workplace? Take a look at our previous blog post.)
- Think beyond the obvious. You know you’re up against candidates who are likely to be just as qualified and experienced as you, so work out what you offer that others don’t. By thinking outside the job description, you can demonstrate how you’re a better candidate. Highlighting unique traits or experiences will set you apart. This is key in a competitive job market.
- Solve a problem. If you’ve researched the company well, you may identify a specific need or problem that’s driven this round of recruitment. Try to demonstrate previous success in a similar situation, or simply articulate an approach or an idea about how you’d begin to solve the problem.
“Why should we hire you?” is an important question to answer well, but try not to overthink it. While it’s a good idea to practise your pitch so you can deliver it smoothly, you don’t need to memorise it word for word or it will sound forced. Have a general idea of what you’d like to say, but remain open to addressing additional issues or information that arises during the interview. Talk for no longer than two minutes and aim to cover three main points.
Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
The transformational impact of technology on people, processes and businesses is never ending. We have never been more connected globally and new technologies are emerging every day, so the skills you’ll need for the jobs of the future aren’t necessarily those that you use today. What skills will you need?
The jobs of today are very different to those of our parents and grandparents, so where will we be 20 years from now? And how can we make sure we’re still employable? As new jobs emerge, others become obsolete. It can be a challenge to stay ahead, but ensuring your knowledge and skills remain current and marketable is an important career move. Here are some of the key job skills we think you’ll need for the future.
- Tech know-how: Proficiency with technology is now expected in most jobs. Think about how a GP uses technology today compared to 10 or 20 years ago. The use of mobile technology has also dramatically increased, and the globalisation of many markets means that working with technology rather than against it is key. The more flexible you are in navigating these changes, and in becoming proficient in using new technology, the easier your work life will be.
- Critical thinking and problem solving: The future will have problems we’ve never experienced. The ability to think outside the box, see the big picture, analyse different situations, rearrange information to identify explanations and make decisions on the fly will put you in a great position.
- Creativity: We know that workers with creative-thinking and imagination skills will remain in demand. Examples include jobs where you need to create original content, manage others and/or interact with stakeholders, think unconventionally, or apply expertise to make decisions or innovate. Creativity isn’t limited to traditional artistic pursuits such as art, music and writing. In this context, it’s about innovation and resourcefulness – the ability to pull together disparate information and conceive viable solutions and approaches.
- Adaptability: The ability to quickly change, develop new skills, take on new responsibilities and work with automation or machines is important. Having flexibility to move to other areas will drive future career success, and acquiring the necessary skills or retraining in other areas will be your responsibility.
- Information analysis: In our current information age, we generate more data than we know what to do with. While access to the information we collect has significantly improved in recent times, the ability to analyse it through a critical lens to come up with meaningful observations that drive decisions is key.
- People skills and collaboration: While technology will eventually take over many areas, human interaction will never disappear, so the ability to work with people will remain important. Success will require you to ask questions, listen, interpret needs and work cooperatively with others. Learning how to use new communication and collaboration platforms will also be vital.
- SMAC: You’ve probably heard of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) is fairly new. Learning how to leverage these platforms in your daily work will help you stand out in the future job market.
- Cultural acumen: The modern workplace is full of remote employees, global offices and flexible contracts. For many of us, our workday reality is living in one country and working virtually with people in other parts of the world. Being able to understand and appreciate cultural differences and social interaction will be essential.
- Networking: Most experts agree that networking and word of mouth will be more important in securing jobs in the future. While networking is not new, technological advances mean the way we do it is vastly different to 10 years ago. Keep track of everyone you meet, stay in touch, join professional networking groups and take advantage of LinkedIn.
Are you always listening, learning and planning? Continuous learning of new skills is essential for job success in the future. Take on new responsibilities, remain flexible, embrace our rapidly changing world and use any setbacks as learning experiences. That way, you’ll find yourself in the best position to capitalise on opportunities as they arise.
Would you like assistance from a Career Coach to identify areas where you might be able to improve your skillset to create your dream career? Or perhaps you’d like some help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy to secure your future? To find out more, read about our Services.
This is the first article in our brand new series ‘How to answer’, which explores the best ways to answer specific interview questions. This month we look at the recruiter’s all-time favourite, “Tell me about yourself”. This seemingly simple question can stump candidates who aren’t sure which details to share about their personal and professional background, and how much information to provide.
Our best advice for answering this question is to be prepared for it and keep your response simple and relevant. This question is often asked early on and can set the tone for the entire interview. Read on for our key tips for success.
If you aren’t prepared, you run the risk of rambling on without actually saying much, and skipping important details, which could jeopardise your chances. So take some time to think through your response before the interview.
- Instead of just summarising your resume, go through the job description in detail and identify the skills, experience and qualifications needed to succeed in the role. Think about how your expertise relates to this job and then pinpoint ways to demonstrate capacity in those areas.
- Keep your response concise by preparing a summary that you can recite in around two minutes. If you include enough topics of interest, the recruiter can ask you to expand on certain areas if they wish.
- Instead of listing multiple, vague strengths, use examples to demonstrate your relevant capabilities. Short, sharp stories about what you did, how you did it and what the outcome was work well. These examples should ideally come from recent work experience, but you can also include volunteer experience or student projects or activities if necessary.
A recruiter or employer probably isn’t interested in your life story, but they are interested in hearing how your professional experience and background makes you an ideal candidate for the role.
- Avoid mentioning personal information such as marital status, children, and political and religious beliefs. These details aren’t necessary for an employer to determine whether you can perform a role, and they can be sensitive topics that may impact an employer’s personal opinion of you. You can talk a little about personal interests, but only if it has some relevance to the role or the personal skills required to succeed.
- Don’t rush into talking about what you are seeking in a role or how the company might benefit you. Save that for if you’re asked, or mention it in the final stages of the interview.
Structuring your response:
An ideal way to construct your response to the question “Tell me about yourself” is to focus on present, past and future. This will help you organise your thoughts.
- PRESENT – Start talking about what you’re doing (and achieving) in your current role. List your areas of responsibility that relate directly to the role you’re applying for, and highlight recent successes. Use statistics, numbers and other hard measures of success where you can, with specific details that demonstrate the value you’re adding. You might say something like: “In my current business development manager role for <Company> I’m responsible for leading a team of four people to support a portfolio of 400 national clients. I’m accountable for achieving sales targets and KPIs, and have consistently exceeded my sales targets since starting in the role five years ago. I’ve also initiated and developed several strategic partnerships to drive industry engagement, built the team from one to four, and managed revenue growth in the region from $3 million to $5 million.”
- PAST – Next, talk about what you’ve done in previous roles, again not going into too much detail but focusing on relevant experience/achievements and how you’ve grown. You might say: “Previously, I worked as an account manager for <Company> with a focus on the media and entertainment sector. I developed a fantastic professional network within some of the largest media companies in Australia, which I’d be able to leverage in this role.”
- FUTURE – Finish with a statement about why you’re looking for a new role and what it is about this role that appeals. You might say something like: “I’ve been working towards a role like this for several years now. I feel I’ve gained enough success in this market to progress into a more focused account management role. I’m excited about this role at <Company> and the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with fewer, larger clients.”
“Tell me about yourself” can be a surprisingly tricky question to answer well. Remember to focus on the experiences and skills that are most relevant to the role and company you’re interviewing for. Ask yourself what you’d most like the recruiter to remember about you and focus on that. A well-thought-out answer will create a good first impression and set you up for a positive interview experience.
Do you struggle with answering questions like this during interviews? If you’d like some help preparing for a job interview, so you can build your confidence and increase your success rate, take a look at our Interview Training and Coaching Services.
Podcasts can provide great inspiration across a range of areas. These convenient, bite-sized chunks of content are also a good way to up-skill or improve your knowledge about various topics, since they’re usually delivered by people with a passion for, and deep understanding of, what they’re talking about.
Whether you’re looking for your first career, searching for major change, struggling with your current role, interested in starting a business or just need inspiration and motivation, there is something for everyone! Here’s a few of our favourites.
Career Tools: A weekly podcast focused on specific actions you can take to grow and enhance your career – no matter what industry or position you’re in. With topics ranging from communication to meeting performance, productivity, workload, asking for feedback, relationships, changing jobs and everything in between, there is sure to be something of interest.
How did you get into that?: Host Grant Baldwin interviews people from all walks of life who are doing interesting or amazing things to make a living. Each episode includes a story about someone who wanted something more from life and made it happen. You’ll find interviews with entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, speakers, writers, filmmakers, photographers, athletes, venture capitalists, Etsy sellers, comedians, nutritionists and more, across all different industries.
Beyond the To Do list: Struggling to juggle life and work? This award-nominated podcast features actionable tips from highly successful people that can help you choose the right projects, tasks and goals in work and life. Host Erik Fisher talks with real people who implement productivity strategies in their professional and personal lives.
Miss Independent: Focused on a female audience, Natalie Hughes founded Miss Independent in 2017 and launched a podcast that features conversations with women in leadership and business. Natalie talks with a broad range of interesting, diverse and inspiring women in leadership and business. She discusses their successes and setbacks, as well as secrets and tips to inspire you to make your own career decision with confidence.
Flying Solo: This is a podcast for anyone starting or growing a small business. Host Robert Gerrish talks with inspiring soloists and expert guests on all things solo, micro and small business.
The Signal: Sometimes the news can feel overwhelming. This ABC Radio podcast helps to sort the news from the noise. It’s a quick (10-15 minute) dive into current news stories that matter, delivered every morning.
Business Women Australia Podcast: Another one focused on a female audience, this podcast is for ambitious women who are serious about business success and leadership development. It provides tips and ideas for those interested in building their knowledge and skills.
Happen to your career: Created for people who aren’t happy in their job, or need some guidance to find work they really love, this podcast helps people to match their strengths to work they will find interesting and meaningful.
Productivityist: Hosted by productivity expert Mike Vardy, this weekly podcast gives listeners tips, tricks, tactics and tools to improve productivity and time management in order to get things done.
The Good Work Revolution: This podcast looks at how you can feel fulfilled and make a positive impact through your work. Each episode includes reflections from different guests, or the host, Kate McCready, on how we can create ‘good work’. It explores people’s relationships with their work – how it influences fulfilment, wellbeing, engagement and a sense of contribution and connection. It’s also about lifting people up and helping them elevate their personal ability to have an impact – whether small and local or big and world changing.
The Tim Ferris Show: Author and entrepreneur, Tim Ferris – best known for The 4-Hour Workweek (which has been translated into 40+ languages), hosts this podcast. In it, he interviews highly successful people and discovers the keys to their success. Guests provide some great tips and tricks that anyone can use to accelerate their work style.
The Jack Delosa Podcast: Founder of Australia’s largest and most disruptive education institution for entrepreneurs, The Entourage, Jack Delosa also co-founded MBE Education, which helped SMEs raise money from investors. He’s been on the BRW Young Rich List since 2014 and is a two-time bestselling author. In The Jack Delosa Podcast, Jack answers questions about business, start-ups, entrepreneurship and the importance of mindset, and shares exclusive interviews with industry leaders and innovators.
Inspire Nation: A top self-help and spirituality show across 185 countries, this podcast features an inspiring new guest every day. Host Michael Sandler felt a calling to start his life-changing show after surviving two near-death accidents. The broad-ranging topics include how to find more energy, strength, happiness, peace, purpose, confidence, and heart to live your greatest life.
Behind the Media: The Australian’s media diarist Stephen Brook hosts this weekly podcast where he interviews journalists, writers, editors, presenters and other media careerists. This podcast is sometimes casual, sometimes serious but presents a diverse range of guests discussing the state of the media industry and their own careers.
Thought Capital: This is a relatively new podcast created by Monash Business School. Host Michael Pascoe delves into topics you probably won’t read about in the business pages. What’s the link between Big Data and election rigging? How can you identify the true ‘key players’ in an economic meltdown? Is there a ‘tax paradise’ and can you live there?
The Leadership Dojo: Hosted by Alex Barker, this podcast features interviews with some of the greatest and most inspirational leaders, from business CEOs to famous Olympic athletes to best-selling authors. Alex aims to help listeners learn success principles from leaders and how to apply them to daily life.
48 days to the work you love: This is a 48-minute weekly podcast hosted by US-based career expert and author Dan Miller, which helps listeners discover their true calling, find work they love, and explore business ideas and opportunities. Dan helps people overcome procrastination with a mission to foster the process of imagining, dreaming and introspection, so they can find purposeful and profitable daily work.
Podcasts are a great distraction during long commutes and there are plenty to choose from across every area of interest. Simply search on a topic and select from a list of top-ranked podcasts. For Australian-specific podcasts, check out the Australian Podcast Awards, an event that brings together podcasters to celebrate the medium’s ability to entertain, inspire and engage audiences worldwide. The site includes a list of annual winners and nominees across different categories to give you some listening inspiration.
Are you happy at work? Career counselling can be an invaluable tool for helping you explore your options and decide on a new career path or course. To find out how we can help, read about our career coaching services.
Many of our clients are at their wits end when they approach us for assistance. They’re qualified, experienced, dedicated, and committed to their field. They’re applying for roles they think suit their areas of expertise but they just aren’t achieving the traction they feel they deserve. Sound familiar? Finding a job takes effort, commitment, time, and energy.
To ensure success, you need a plan. Of course you need a polished application and a strong LinkedIn profile, but you also need to be prepared. In recent years, the employment market has changed significantly and it continues to change rapidly with constantly evolving approaches. We have talked before about the importance of developing a structured job search strategy, but here are our tips on what you can do today to help you succeed:
TIP # 1 – Be open to change: How many applications have you sent off and how many interviews have you secured? If you’ve been applying for jobs unsuccessfully for some time now, it might be time to shake things up. You could ask someone in your industry to review your approach and provide feedback, or consider seeking the advice of an expert. At the very least, talk to someone you trust and review your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and general approach together. Be open to feedback – positive and negative – and be prepared to make some changes to your approach if recommended.
TIP # 2 – Establish a plan: Today’s job market is not only competitive, it’s also complicated. There are many avenues to tap into – including advertised and unadvertised job markets. You need to be very organised with a structured approach to identify and apply for all the positions you may be suitable for. A detailed plan will help you do this. See our previous article How to be a great job seeker for more detailed tips on developing a structured job search strategy.
TIP # 3 – Build your online presence: There are several ways to do this including with your LinkedIn profile, by writing a blog, developing your own website, creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube videos. This is especially important if you are looking for contract/freelance work. For professional roles, recruiters will most likely review your LinkedIn and social media profiles. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with relevant information and keywords, as well as a current, professional photo. Provide as much detail as you can, including additional sections such as qualifications, certifications, courses, memberships, interests etc. Many people don’t include a summary, and this is a mistake. Use the summary to introduce yourself – give an overview of your key skills, experience and strengths to provide readers with a sense of the value you could bring to an organisation. Don’t be afraid to inject some personality – LinkedIn doesn’t need to be as formal as your resume. Use LinkedIn to research recruitment consultants and HR managers from companies you’d like to target. Join relevant groups, follow companies you’d like to work for, and connect with others in your industry. Likewise, with personal social media profiles, update your privacy settings, and leverage your profiles to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility.
TIP # 4 – Develop relationships: A large percentage of available jobs are never advertised, but accessed via what we call ‘the hidden job market’. Network with others in your industry, join relevant LinkedIn Groups and make active contributions to help build your profile, and connect with appropriate recruiters. Develop a standard pitch as to why you want to connect and what you can offer, then set up meetings to discuss potential opportunities. Think about specific companies you’d like to work for then research their website careers page and follow them on social media. Think about who you know and who you might be able to connect with. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. There are many different ways to connect with your network so use them all – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face to face and online networking groups. Seek out relevant professional associations and networking groups, attend seminars, and connect with others in your industry.
TIP # 5 – Be specific: Recruiters are time-poor so make it easy for them to see the value you can add. We strongly recommend writing a customised cover letter to address as many specific ‘job requirements’ as you can. Make an effort to understand the company and/or the industry and comment on how you might be able to solve a specific challenge or contribute to the company’s success. We also often recommend tailoring your resume to suit specific roles. This may seem time consuming however it may be as simple as reordering your key capabilities, highlighting a particular achievement, or de-emphasising points that may not be relevant. Review the job ad, or detailed job description, and ensure that if you have the experience or skills they are asking for, they are well highlighted and easily understood.
Today’s job market is competitive and complex with many aspects involved. If you’re finding it tough to secure your next opportunity, you’re not alone. That doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t achieve success. Take some time to think about all the aspects that are important to you and your area of expertise.
Are you interested in tailoring your application for improved success? Would you like some assistance from a professional writer to prepare a winning resume for your next job application? Are you interested in preparing a customised job search strategy? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services.
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