“Tell us about yourself” and “Why do you want to work with us?”. They sound such straightforward questions, but the interviewer will hang on every word you say.
“Tell us about yourself.”
It’s an open-ended question that always comes up, usually near the beginning of the interview. It sounds like an easy one to answer – But it isn’t.
You have only a few seconds to create an impression to the interviewer and engage. If you get off to a shaky start, that first impression can be difficult to change. So make your story interesting and upbeat. You can start by saying which city you grew up in if you want, but focus on what is likely to be most relevant, such as your recent career.
If there is no interaction from the interviewer, nor body language signals to suggest you should keep talking, I wouldn’t spend any longer than one minute to tell your ‘story’. Don’t make this a long, drawn out monologue; only continue if the interviewer interjects and clearly shows interest.
“Why do you want to work with us?”
Can the interviewer envisage you working for their company and fitting with their corporate culture? Too many candidates give a standard ‘I want work for XYZ company because it has a great reputation and a friendly atmosphere’ And they regurgitate similar words for every job they apply for.
This is your chance to shine and stand out from other candidates. Do some thorough research on the company and try to find a hook that can give you a great answer. eg. ‘I’m very excited about XYZ’s expansion plans announced last month, and I want to join a company where I can develop my career and contribute to your company’s successful growth.’
The interviewer will probably take more note of your answers to these questions than any other in the interview, so make sure you are well prepared.