”Could you tell me something about yourself?”

Antero Ojanaho, Mazhr Oy

Are you thinking these days about what to do next in your career? Are you already contacting suitable employers? Or are you perhaps going to a job interview? Whatever your situation, a lot will be crystallised when you are asked: “Could you tell me something about yourself?”

Telling about yourself and “selling your expertise” are often considered to be the most important challenges when faced with a new situation. Often the problem is not the lack of expertise or attitude, but the lack of a clear structure in communication. Many people I have coached, for example, have been looking for a job for the first time in more than ten years, because “a job well done has always led to new positions”. Recently the situation has changed, however, and the old tricks may not necessarily work anymore. What are then the important things that you should identify and put into words about yourself, to be able to present your expertise and competence? There is no single right answer to that question, either, but you should think about at least these tried and tested questions to get you started:

What position are you really applying for?

First learn thoroughly about the job and the organisation you are applying for and study the background information. That way you will ensure that you are telling the things that are essential for the listener. A common mistake in preparing is that it’s not done at all.

What could you achieve with your strengths in the position?

Tell what you have achieved with your essential expertise in your previous and similar jobs. If it is challenging to talk about yourself, tell how your work has helped your customers or e.g. partners. Concrete examples, numbers and stories will make your message clearer.

What does motivate, interest, and inspire you?

Motivation is very important in a job. Tell what concrete things feed your motivation. It is not wrong to say that work is primarily a part of the rest of your life and a way to make a living. Around half of Finns say that. It is, however, good if you can also say that, for example, you enjoy completing projects successfully or making customers happy with your work.

What kind of a team and organisation do you fit in?

In quite a few jobs today the employees work independently and even separately, but rarely completely alone. In addition, work communities differ from each other in terms of their values, speed of working, and ways of working. What kinds of customers, team members and partners you get along with well? Do you prefer a small or big organisation? Does an entrepreneur-like approach suit you? You should avoid clichés like “I get along with everybody” and again favour concrete stories and examples.

By answering these four questions you will create a consistent story that will help you stand out in a positive way when applying for a job. We have also created tools to make it easier to answer these questions. The Mazhr career planning service can help you with them!

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