As inevitable as weather small talk is this question:
“Tell me about yourself.”
Don’t take this question lightly – it will set the tone for the rest of the interview.
You even see this question come at you during networking events… and you need your own “elevator pitch” at the ready.
Before we get into what you say, consider how you say it.
While attending a networking event the inquisitor will typically have more interest in the content of your answer, while the interviewer cares more about how you answer. Do you project confidence and enthusiasm… or is your first impression at best stale and at worst making you look like a dud. Being confident means you have to have the answer at the ready – you know it is coming, answer. Don’t fumble around for words or be wishy washy. If you aren’t confident about YOU, how will you be confident in your payroll or HR role? Don’t confuse confident with cocky. Hiring managers are looking for a self-sufficient person who will be able to make solid decisions without hand holding… but arrogance foretells that you won’t fit in with the team and you may be reckless.
And don’t try and be too cute or witty. Be straight forward – if the tone of the interview for your payroll or HR opportunity turns light later, you can (carefully) inject your sense of humor, but for now make sure you tell them about your (career) self including your goals and objectives. Interject a little about yourself personally but don’t over share. You could say, “in my spare time I enjoy mountain biking and skiing.”
Here are some approaches that may work for you when interviewing for a payroll or HR job. Try them out on your friends and family and use the one that you are most comfortable with. Some of these may sound perfect coming from you, some may sound trite – find YOUR voice.
If you want to appear no-nonsense, confident and concise you could use, “Three words that really summarize who I am…”
Want that HR manager to see you as a thoughtful individual, maybe use “I really live my life by the following philosophy…”
Want to show that you get the big picture as someone who can grow and understand human resources? You could channel your inner HR philosopher and say “Being in human resources, its been proven that “A” performers are hired based on strengths – mine are X, Y, and Z.”
Along the same lines, you could demonstrate your strengths as an outgrowth of your passion(s)… “My passion is…”
One technique people use is the “People who know me say…” I would suggest a small tweak to that by saying “My managers have said X while my colleagues have said Y.”
Whatever you land on, remember that the interviewer for the payroll or HR job is not focusing on what you do, but who you are.