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How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” When Changing Careers

tell me about yourself interview

Ah, that interview question.

Some people love talking about themselves, but most of us dread it with a capital D.

“Where do I start?” “What details are important?” “Am I boring them?” It can all be pretty nerve-wracking, especially for career changers where things aren’t so cut and dry.

In this two-part series, we’re going to break down the individual components you need to have nailed down to answer the question. In part two, we’ll talk about putting it all together.

So, what are the must-have components you need to answer this pretty much ubiquitous interview question? (Also known as “Walk me Through Your Resume”)

How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” When Changing Careers

  • Your Career Path To Date

This can be simple for now; just be able to clearly articulate the roles you’ve occupied. (For me, this would be “PR Account Executive à Event Producer à Career Coach)

  • Your Relevant Skills

You’ll have to thoroughly research the skills required in your desired career and be able to tie your skillset to that field/position.

Also read: 5 Questions Hiring Managers Ask About Career Changers

  • Your Experience & Specific Success Stories

Share projects you worked on that support your assertion that you can, in fact, do this job, even though you don’t have formal experience. Maybe you did a weekend ‘internship’ or helped a friend with their business. Maybe you volunteered or took a course. (This, of course, is intertwined with the skills section directly above). If you’ve had measurable success in terms of growth numbers, which is especially relevant for sales roles, be sure to include this story!

  • Goals

Why do you want to work in this field (and specifically this organization)? How do your mission and values directly correlate with those of the organization (and field at large)? For example, maybe you’ve decided to make a career shift into something that allows a direct positive impact.

Also read: Setting, and Showing, Your Career Goals and Objectives

  • Non-Tangibles

There are non-verbal cues that you need to practice before the interview – no matter how unnatural it may feel. A famous study that says your first impression is 7% what you say and 93% non-verbal cues. These would include:

  • Pace: Racing through your answer because you think you’re taking too long and boring them is a sure-fire way to ensure that…you’re boring them.
  • Tone: Overall, you want to sound approachable- people want to work with people they like as well as someone that can do the job.
  • Posture: An open posture- so no arms crossed or hunching!- is critical here.

Also read: How to Read and React to the Interviewer’s Body Language

Your homework is to gather all of these ingredients for your answer and practice the non-tangible elements of the interview. We’ll be back to help you put this all together into an answer you can use with confidence and ease in all of your upcoming interviews.

About the Author

Jill Ozovek is a certified career coach in New York City. Her practice focuses on helping Millennial and mid-career women find and develop careers that align with their passions. For more info on your own career change and Jill’s Career Change Kitchen course, click here.