Job Interview Question

Tell me your life story (more of your personal history).

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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Hiring managers want to find out as much as they can about you in the interview.  It’s a little bit of a risk management thing.  The more they know, the less likely they’ll make a mistake by extending you a job offer.  But even if they ask you to specifically reveal more of your personal history, it’s still very important that you remember that your focus is not to make a new best friend here…it’s to get a job.

For that reason, here’s how you want to talk about your personal story in the interview:

You need to skim over the childhood portion, even though they’ve asked you for a personal history, because your childhood is probably not relevant for the work you’re going to do at this company.

What you want to do is say something like, “Well, I was born and raised here” or “I’m from X state,” or whatever, and then briefly hit on the bumps and lumps:  I graduated high school, went to college, received XYZ degree, immediately was offered a position with ABC Company, and moved on to X Company after that.

But here’s the part that trips up most people (I find this with my personal coaching clients all the time):  They just want to spit out the history, versus “dressing it up” to sell it a little bit.

Many job seekers almost forget that they are SELLING themselves for the job, not just reciting a career history.  Dressing up your answer to make you a more attractive candidate is very simple.

Instead of saying, “I spent 5 years in the military,” you could say “I spent 5 years in the military, where I was in a leadership position over 150 soldiers and we executed XYZ.”

Instead of saying, “I was the coach of the Whatever-Whatevers,” you could say, “I was the coach of the Whatever-Whatevers and I coached them to a ABC championship.”

Instead of saying, “I was a lifeguard in college,” you could talk about how big the pool was, how many people swam there, what your responsibilities were and how you were rewarded for it.

If you were an account executive in a certain role, point out that you were immediately promoted to a higher position because you were one of the top 5 sales reps in the nation.

Don’t just say what happened.  Elaborate on the things that are important or impressive.  Dress it up a bit into ‘selling statements’ that tell them more about you but also sell you for the job.  Focus on making what you’re saying a positive thing…something that actively contributes to getting you this job.


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