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How to answer the dreaded ‘tell me about yourself’ question

Stuck on this job interview question? Here's how to answer it. Source: Getty

It’s a question you can guarantee you’ll be asked in any job interview, and one you’re sure to hate: “So, tell me about yourself”.

The CEO of the world’s largest executive search firm told CNBC Make It that the most impressive answer they ever received to that question was: “I’ve climbed the highest mountains on every continent, including Everest.”

But if you haven’t climbed Everest or any of the seven summits, how do you match this?

However, Indeed’s head of career insights, Jay Munro, told Yahoo Finance answering that question is actually pretty simple.

“The Everest answer is interesting, because it will be incredibly memorable to that employer – and that’s one of the things that you need to think about,” Munro said.

“It demonstrates elements of character, which could be determination, motivation, resilience, and soft skills, which are really important.”

But, Munro said you don’t have to have saved the world to answer that question well.

“You need to identify all the things that you’ve done - and it doesn’t have to be work-related - that show your soft skills and the type of character that you are.

“Ideally, the best thing you can do is to try to link it to the way you dealt with that situation or solved a problem – because that’s where you automatically show those skills or characteristics that are really important in the workplace.”

And, Munro said you should try to find something that stands out.

“It takes away from all the other responses that you give in an interview, which are work-related and seem repetitive after a while.”

How to find the answer for you

“It’s not an easy thing,” Munro said. “It takes practice and involves quite a lot of self-reflection.”

Practicing your answer with friends can also be a good way to see whether your response is as good as you think it is, Munro said.

Another top tip is to align your answer with the company’s values.

“A good idea is to really think about the job and think about the company,” Munro said.

“What do they stand for? A lot of companies will have mission statements, which will say that, ‘we all try to do a great job,’ or, ‘we have fun,’ as well.

“So try and align those elements with what your answer might be to demonstrate that.”

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