Has social media rendered ‘Tell me about yourself’ redundant?

Remember when an employer’s first impression of a candidate was formed in a face to face interview? Today a recruiter will probably make an initial judgement on applicant potential from an online social media presence. Does this mean that some of the traditional interview questions are redundant?

In the past, many recruiters would initiate an interview with the traditional ‘tell me about yourself’. This was either a cover for the fact they didn’t have time to review your resume or a sincere effort to encourage an applicant to tell their story in their own words.

Today, even a cursory effort at data mining will provide a significant amount of information about a candidate. The good news, if you have made it to the interview you have passed the initial screening. Your challenge, is to recapture ownership of your story and make the connections between the job requirements and your experience.

How do you do that?

Manage your social platforms to convey a consistent, professional image.

Create a professional narrative that links the information on your social platforms to your answers.

There is no shortcut to managing your online presence. Establishing your credibility as a candidate begins with a quick inventory of how you are presenting yourself to the world beyond friends and family. Consider your postings from the perspective of a future employer. Does the content add competitive value to your application?

Next, visualize yourself as a productive member of the team you hope to join. What does that look like? Craft your narrative to tell the ‘short story of you’ with your first year in the new position as your next chapter. Connect the dots from your online content to your ambition to be hired.

‘Tell me about yourself’ is not redundant.

It’s an icebreaker. In a formal interview it gives a potential employer the opportunity to listen to you. You are being asked to provide a general framework for discussion. You set the stage for follow-up questions addressing various aspects of your academic and work life. It’s your opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the interview.

Throughout the interview an employer is seeking an answer to the question ‘Why should I hire you?’ Even when the question is not asked directly, your responses should create a successful argument in your favor.

Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your story:

What are the top five things you want an interviewer to know about you? (Focus on academics and experience.)

What are your strengths?

How will these strengths contribute to the success of the organization?

How does your current situation lay the groundwork for the next step in your career?

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