'Tell Me About Yourself:' 5 Steps to a Well-Crafted Answer

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Create a Timeline

Step #1: Create a timeline.

The best way to avoid venturing off-topic when answering such a general question about yourself is to prepare ahead of time. To do this, create a brief timeline of events, ranging from your educational accomplishments to jobs you've held. From here, you can then craft an elevator pitch that flows naturally.

Consider using the past-present-future formula when creating your pitch. Start with the past -- where you interned while at school, what you graduated with, where you previously worked, etc. Then, segue into the present and discuss where you are now. Last, but certainly not least, finish with the future -- why you're excited about this opportunity and what you hope to gain or accomplish.

This formula can help you present the most important information in a way that's easy to follow and digest, whether it's for a job interview or a first date.

If you've ever interviewed for a job or attended a networking event, it's likely you've been asked the dreaded "tell me about yourself" question. It's a short but tricky question that can lead to a rambling quagmire. Where do you begin? What do you include? Obviously, the person asking doesn't want to know about your early years in elementary school, but you want to make sure you cover all the salient points that would interest the interviewer and increase your chances of landing the job.

According to Heather Huhman, writing for Glassdoor, 49 percent of over 2000 hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder make a decision on whether a candidate is a good fit for their company within the first five minutes of an interview. Given this incredibly short audition time, it's critical that you have a solid, well-crafted answer ready to go.

To help you create an elevator pitch that can be used in a variety of situations and, most importantly, the job interview, Huhman has outlined a five-step plan on how to pitch yourself to others -- without going off topic.


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