Updated: Oct 10
It's often the first question you are asked when you get into the interview room. But how should you answer it?
First of all, breathe. As it's the first question, many people ramble and go into a spiel about how their name is Carol, they live in Blantyre and have two sons. STOP. This is actually a really great question to prepare for as you can pretty much guarantee it's coming.
The interviewer wants to hear what you have been doing so they know if you are a fit for the role. It's a good idea to follow the past, present, future format.
Past - This is where you give a potted history of your career, remembering to keep it relevant to the role you are going for. So for example if you are leaving retail and looking to get into a customer service role in a contact centre you could say 'For the last 15 years I've been working in retail for Debenhams, giving great service, promoting products and services and merchandising stock to a really high standard. I enjoyed the customer interaction best, really getting to know my customers so that I could recommend items to suit them. I worked as part of a team of 5 in store and we exceeded targets around sales, average transaction value and storecard opening, which was my speciality. As well as having great relationship building and communication skills I am also very confident using MS Office packages and bespoke systems. I was responsible for cashing up in my previous role and was given the responsibility of taking the figures for all the concessions on my floor as I am an advanced Excel User and was able to input and analyse data accurately'.
Present - What are you doing currently? 'As Debenhams has recently gone into administration, I am now seeking a role that uses all of my customer service and administrative skills and this role is a great fit for me'.
Future - Again talk about this in relation to the role you are applying for (I knew this sounds obvious but it doesn't always happen!) 'I'd like this role as I thrive in a busy, fast paced environment and in time I'd love to be trained up in quality and compliance as well as getting involved in recruitment, as these areas of the business really interest me'
This section should last around 3/5 minutes and be enough to make the employer want to know more, without telling them about every role you've ever done.
Practice these answers to a mirror/video and watch them back. (painful, I know). You want to sound calm but enthusiastic and to get used to hearing yourself saying the words.
You want to give them a few highlights and tell them about the golden thread in all the things you've done that have led you to this role.