In today's job market, you to not only stand out, but also soar to the top of an organization's prospect list. But, you don't want to fall into the trap of over-preparing to the point that you go in sounding rehearsed, and then have a deer-in-the-headlights moment when you get thrown a curveball.
There's a careful balance with interview preparation that requires preparation (e.g., company research, practicing standard questions) and the ability to think (and respond!) on your feet.
I've worked with all sorts of job candidates through interview coaching over the past four years - from entry level through senior management. Across all seniority levels, it's imperative to strike a balance of professionalism and personality, and to demonstrate that you are thoughtful and engaging.Those qualities tend to help interviewers remember and relate to you in a way that helps YOU to move further along the interview process.
Achieving this during your personal introduction - often the first question you'll receive during an interview - is incredibly important.
Back when I was a project manager hiring people for my team, I was forever amazed by how many candidates stumbled through the first question I'd ask - can you please introduce yourself and tell us why you're interested in this position?
I've realized that candidates aren't stumbling because they're unprepared; they're stumbling because we're often really bad at speaking about ourselves in positive, confident terms. The content was there, but the delivery was...lacking. Instead of a concise, engaging introduction, it turns into a meandering, disjointed stream of consciousness.
Your personal introduction is one aspect of an interview that you'll want to practice over, and over, and over again. This is especially true if you tend to experience anxiety or feel a lack of confidence when expressing yourself and your accomplishments. This is the one question we can say with near 100 percent certainty you will be asked - and asked first - in an interview. You need to knock this one out of the park.
Use the formula below to create a two-minute personal introduction that reflects your authentic self and creates a strong connection to the skills required in the open position. Note, this introduction will change (at least slightly) depending on the nuances of each position you're interviewing for. Replace the bold text with your own information.
My name is Christina. I am an urban planner by training with about 10 years experience in personnel and program management. I graduated from Allegheny College with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies, and earned a Master Degree from Tufts University in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. I’ve spent the entirety of my career doing mission driven work in the non-profit sector, and I want to use my career to build stronger, more resilient and accessible communities. I’ve worked in matrixed environments requiring significant community and stakeholder engagement for a medium-sized and a start up non-profit. Serving as the POSITION fits squarely into my vision of doing meaningful, mission driven work that serves communities. I view this as an opportunity to have a genuine positive impact with the next step in my career.