One of the most common questions asked in interviews is: “Tell me about yourself.” While many may believe that this question is meant to tell your interviewer general information about yourself, the interviewee’s response can be a make or break in the interviewers mind.
In evaluating a candidates response, among the criteria that interviewers evaluate are a candidates composure, their readiness, and above all their understanding of themselves. To someone who has never met you, when they ask you to tell them about yourself they are not asking you what classes you are studying or what your favorite color is, but rather they want to walk away knowing what kind of person you are. If you tell your interviewer that you are studying history, they want to know why you are studying it. Is it because you are passionate about it or because you didn’t know what else to study? Remember that it is not only your initial response to a question, but it is also how you follow up your response.
As mentioned, it is important to an interviewer how well you understand yourself and if you can express it to others. While it may seem like an easy question to answer then why do so many people have trouble answering it? Everyone can say general information about themselves but it takes more. This is where your personal brand comes into play.
When people think of Pepsi, they think of the red, white and blue logo and the drinks they produce . When people think of the Yankees, people think about their commitment to winning as evident by their expensive spending sprees. Just like with the examples of Pepsi and the Yankees, candidates need to build their personal brand to the point that when people think of them in a career sense, candidates can be associated with certain qualities or as a brand.
One of the best ways to start building your personal brand is to start with a blog. While some may think that a blog is supposed to be private and to be shared with only your very close friends, being comfortable with expressing your thoughts and views is what can make your blog a powerful tool in branding yourself. With a blog you will be able to network with others and let others know who you are and what you do. By finding your ‘niche’ through your blog you can use it as reference to employers and interviewers as proof of your knowledge of whatever career path it may be.
So when is the best time to start?
As soon as possible. Personal branding is not a one day project. It takes time to build the foundation of your personal brand. After successfully building up your personal brand or foundation, you can move on to networking with other professionals and peers through the various social networks available. For the college student getting ready to start recruiting for a job, you may have already started building your personal brand without even knowing it. Websites like Twitter and Facebook are great ways to network with others and build solid relationships. By networking with others you are not only giving yourself the chance to get your name out there but also you are able to get great advice and insight from other professionals.
After building up one’s personal brand, an individual should no longer be unsure of how to answer the question “tell me about yourself.” So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make a name for yourself!