Here's how to answer one of the most commonly asked interview questions with confidence.

You landed an interview for your dream job! Once the excitement dies down, you start getting nervous as you realize it's time to prepare for the ever-important interview. What kinds of questions will they ask? Which interview questions should you prepare for?

No matter the type of business, industry or the interviewer's experience level, one question is bound to arise: “Tell me about yourself.” This is likely the first thing you'll be asked as you sit down behind the conference room table. While this statement should be easy to answer, many people struggle with it, often unsure where to begin with their response.

Prior to answering “tell me about yourself,” put yourself in the interviewer's shoes. What does that person really want to know about you? Do they want to know your birthday is April 12 and that your favorite color is purple? No, of course not. Do they want to know that you have a bachelor of science degree in marketing and have eight years of sales experience? Absolutely.

You must be careful when preparing for this interview question. First, think of how this would sound: “My name is Heather and I have an 11-year old son. I am very actively involved in his school and try to volunteer as much as possible.” What does the potential employer hear?

“My name is Heather. And, by the way, I may miss a lot of work because I do a ton of volunteering at my son's school. This means I may miss important work deadlines and, quite possibly, may not be able to work overtime when you need me to do so.”

I couldn't be prouder to be a mother to a wonderful son, but this is not something I'd very bring up during an interview. My focus is on my relevant professional accomplishments, educational background, and business expertise.

To avoid this scenario, stay with job-related information and have a brief 30-60 second introduction (i.e. your elevator pitch) ready-to-go when you enter the interview. Here are four things to keep in mind as you prepare your response to one of the most commonly asked interview questions:

Employers are looking for confidence

Say your statements firmly and as definitive sentences. Don't add a verbal question mark to the end of your statements.

Don't ask them what they'd like to know

This shows that you're unsure of yourself and your strengths, or that you weren't prepared to answer this common question.

Give a brief overview of your job history

Don't provide a play-by-play of your past 20 years of experience; however, explain how your experience is related to this particular role and how it led you to apply to this position.

Stick to job-related information

While most people immediately want to discuss their family, where they live, or community involvement, this is not the time. In addition, by discussing these personal things, you open yourself to potential discrimination.

Prepare your response to “tell me about yourself” carefully. As the first statement during an interview, your response is going to set the tone for the rest of the interview process. Prepare, plan and develop a productive response to this question in order to shine a light on your strengths and help you land that dream job.

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