Have you ever found yourself struggling to answer the question, “Tell me about yourself” during a job interview? Although it may seem like the simplest question to answer, many of us fall into the trap of being underprepared and end up rambling.
Being well-versed in your own story is crucial for creating a positive first impression and setting the stage for a successful interview. So, to help you craft your concise and engaging answer to this question, remember the acronym TRAPS:
T: Thank them – Since this question is typically asked at the beginning of the interview as an icebreaker, it’s courteous and professional to simply start by expressing your gratitude for the opportunity and stating your name. Imagine introducing yourself at any social event. Start with: “Good Afternoon, thank you for inviting me here today, I’m XXXX…” Be sure to look at the interviewer in the eyes and smile while you’re doing this.
R: Role – Describe your current position including the title of your role. Be sure to highlight your recent achievements in this position as well as any duties which are relatable to the position you are hiring for. Your current position tends to prepare you for the next step in your career and demonstrates you have the skills and experience required for the role you are applying for. Your answer may go something like this: “…I am currently working at ABC Company as a Marketing Manager leading a team of 12, to deliver digital and traditional campaigns raising the brand awareness throughout the EMEA region. In the last 3 years of me holding this position, we have seen a 300% increase in growth for the company expanding our brand in 5 new territories and established an active community of 50,000 customers interacting with our brand social networks…”
A: Academic qualifications – As you progress in your career, your degree may in many cases become irrelevant for the role you are applying for, but this is a great way to highlight your academic successes, include any professional licences or certificates and allow you to take the story back to the beginning of your career. You can continue your answer with: “…however, I began my career in Marketing after I graduated from XYZ University in 2010 with a Masters in Marketing…”
P: Path – After leaving university, your career may have taken you in various directions and through different companies. Make sure to include the motivations behind any role changes and the accomplishments in each position. Lastly, be sure to include dates such as the month and year to reinforce the clarity and transparency of your story. Each of these entries may look like: “…In the summer of 2010, I joined BBB Company as their marketing intern where I worked for 3 months before being offered a permanent role as their Marketing Assistant. I worked for two years with BBB and in 2012 felt that it was the right time for me to build on my experience and shift sector moving from Industrial B2B products to FMCGs. In October of 2012, I joined CCC Supermarket Chain supporting their digital marketing initiatives…”
S: Social Although interviewers cannot ask you about your personal life as these questions are considered “illegal”, you can offer them a glimpse into who you are outside of work. Building rapport is so much easier when the interviewer feels they know you as a person rather than just a list of professional achievements on a piece of paper. Nevertheless, personal information is like salt in food, if you put a little in you can make the difference between good to incredible, too much however it’s ruined. Think about interests that are not divisive, football teams and politics a no no. A sport you participate in, charity activity or interest is perfect, if you speak about your nuclear family for example you are married or have kids, drop their first names it will cement the connection you have with the interviewer. This could look like this: “…in my spare time, I enjoy playing tennis on the weekends with my husband Andrew at our local club and trying out new restaurants with a group of marketing friends who love food…”
Using the TRAPS framework, will ensure you stay on track by having structure, cover all the main points and offer an interesting and logical flow.