So the interviewer has seemingly gone off-book and says, “tell me about something that’s not on your resume.” It’s such an open-ended question that you think “jeez, where do I begin?” Be prepared to answer this question ahead of time because it’s your opportunity to shine as a job candidate, going beyond your professional experience. Read this article to learn why interviewers ask this question and how to properly answer it.
Interviewers already know and are impressed by your hard skills--that’s why you were invited to interview in the first place. What your resume doesn’t provide much information on is who you are as a person. Are you someone with a bunch of cool hobbies? Are you an easy-going person to work with? Now is your chance to provide some insight into who you really are. This will help the interviewer determine if you will be a good fit in the company culture and team you would be working with.
To effectively hit a home run with your answer, choose a relevant strength but keep it brief. Since the question allows for a bunch of wiggle room for how you can answer it, here are a few options you can take.
1. Share a skill
Your resume already has a tailored list of key skills on it. When this question is asked you can now share a secondary skill that isn’t listed on your resume but could help boost your performance on the job.
For instance, perhaps you have a story showing how you’re great at solving conflicts at work. Start by describing the issue you had at hand, giving the interviewer context, and how you were involved in it. Next, show how you logically solved the issue and saw a positive result from your conflict-resolution skills. Keep in mind your answer could be any skill that helps you stand out. Perhaps you’re a great teammate when playing soccer and now is the time to tell the interviewer how. Regardless of what you say, make sure to tie your story back to the workplace, describing how having such a skill has helped you succeed at work.
2. Share a personal story
You could also dig deeper into why you want the job you are applying for. If there is a personal reason why you want the job or to work in such an industry that has driven you to apply as it means a lot to you, tell it. For instance, if you’re applying for a software engineering job and working in the field of tech is meaningful to you because you had a connection with a great computer science professor who deeply inspired you, tell that story. Memorable stories like this will make you stand out as a candidate as well as show that you are serious about the open position. Just remember to show, don't tell.
3. Share something about the company
If there is something that the company does that resonates with you, tell the interviewer what it is and the reason why. For example, the company may have a great educational program and this is something that you care a great deal about as it will help you achieve your long-term goals. Describe how the program is a great fit for you and something that motivates you.
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