What do they want to find out?
Walk me through your resume: This is invariably the first question in the interview. They have already read your resume, so they know what you have one in your career. Here they are wanting to know why you have made your choices. Who is the person behind this resume? what is her thought process? Why she does what she does.
Preparing your response:
Firstly, even though it may come across that way, make no mistake. It is not an ice breaker question. There is a definite intent behind this question as mentioned above. Also, this being the first question, and we know, first impressions can last a long time, it is extremely important that you respond well, keeping it short and sweet, 2- 2.5 minutes, at the most. You should have rehearsed this question as many times as possible. Responding this well will make you feel confident to get into the interview whereas fumbling on the one will start you on a slippery slope.
With that let’s dive into the details.
- Don’t repeat things which are already on your resume
- Focus on the transitions. Explain the choices you made when you changed jobs or took a new responsibility or changed your role within the same organization. What were your motivations? For example, while working on the various projects during my rotational program I really enjoyed working on short duration projects which provided a steep learning curve, a new situation to deal with and an opportunity to work with new people. This got me to pursue a job in consulting….
- Leave hooks: This is the art of being smart. In between your response, subtly emphasize on aspects which are your strong points, where you would like the interviewer to ask a counter question and dig deeper. For instance, if you say something like. “…it’s interesting how what started as a water cooler conversation developed into a revenue-generating product for the company.” Essentially you are planting the seeds of curiosity and creating an opportunity for yourself to talk about your accomplishments.
- It’s good to follow a chronological order in responding to this question. Depending on your comfort, you can start with your education through to your current job. Alternatively, you can start with your current role and go back right to your education in the reverse chronological order.
- Last point. This question is different from “Tell me something about yourself”. In answering that one you have the liberty to get into your personal aspects: your family background, your interests and so on. Here, it’s mostly business.