Today, I am sharing with you an easy approach to answering the dreaded question Tell Me About Yourself. You are not alone if you struggle with figuring out how to answer this question. Prospective clients usually ask it as a way to avoid the initial awkwardness of picking up the phone and jumping right into a sales pitch or right into their problem.
A big thing to remember is that, if you’re on a call and you’re being asked the question, the client is obviously interested in you enough to have a phone call. No one has the time to sit around and talk to freelancers that they have zero interest in working with so, whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of saying nothing. Don’t say, “umm…well…you know…I am a freelancer” and offer information about you that they already know. The question is asked to, amongst other things, see how well you think on your feet, so be prepared.
Here are three ways for you to answer this question confidently.
Approach No. 1 – Use humor
You can use humor in so many ways.
You can make a joke, you can tell them something funny about yourself – even better if you can make this about your background.
Let’s say you’re a virtual assistant, you are hopping on a call with an entrepreneur who needs help with their administrative work, and the client says, “Tell me a little about yourself”. Your response could be, “I am a virtual assistant who helps tame chaos and gets the 500 emails out of your inbox right now.” That speaks to your expertise and it is also kind of funny because you are talking directly to the client’s needs at that particular point in time. Humor is a really good way to disarm people and that is so powerful to do on a sales call, particularly because the front end of a call tends to be the most tension-filled part.
So using humor in any way that you can – for example, referencing something that is going on in the world that is perhaps of common interest (steering clear of religion and politics, of course) – is a great way to disarm someone.
Approach No. 2 – Share your why
The second way to answer the question is to tell them why and how you got into doing what you do. I always mention that I burned out as a 7th-grade teacher in the most dysfunctional school system in America before becoming a writer and realizing that many people who write for lawyers are not willing to do the research to make sure it is accurate. In saying this, I have made myself look good by talking a little bit about something memorable but my clients will remember that I have a background in teaching – they always bring that up later.
Remember, we are aiming for 30 seconds or less. I would just say something quick about my educational background if it is relevant; my experience in this field; why I got into it and why I’ve stayed.
So if you have been a freelancer for a while, you might say something like, “I got into graphic design because I love colors and shapes but six years later I find myself loving working with clients to establish a brand.” That’s a really good way to answer that question talking about all the aspects of your specific niche of freelancing that you love and why you got into it and then why you stayed with it. That shows passion, commitment, and dedication to your field.
Approach No. 3 – Go for something memorable
The third thing you can do is to tell them something memorable that makes you look good. There are a couple of different ways that you can do this depending on your background.
See if you can find something in your personal or professional life that relates to the job. Sometimes if they ask for an interesting fact about myself, I will tell them the truth. I used to be a Spelling Bee champion. I used to spend so many hours reading as a kid and we actually would train for the county Spelling Bee. I would study for that pretty seriously and every year I would go after that goal. So what the heck does that have to do with my clients? Well, they know I have told them that not only do I know how to spell but I’m really really good at it and I have a lot of experience working with words, which is perfect as a writer.
Sometimes if it is more of a professional client, not somebody who’s asking me that question in a fun sense, so I will reference my experience as a Ph.D. candidate and some of the research I have done. They will always remember the fact that I said those three little letters – P.H.D. Even if the job does not have to do with my field of study, that telegraphs to them that I have enough ability to convince an admissions committee to let me in, I have taught at the university level, and I have stuck with something a long time to do all of this research and all of the coursework for it.
Other interviewing tips
Now, you don’t need a canned response but write down a couple of ideas of things you could say – maybe reference one or two character traits about yourself that will be really memorable to have in the conversation; maybe you want to say that you’re really diligent. One thing that I’ve said before on a call with a CEO was that I smash deadlines well before they happen; that really sticks with the client and speaks directly to their pain point.
You will get more confident in answering these types of questions, and this one in particular, as you go along. Don’t beat yourself up that you feel weird about it; it has always been a weird question. It’s so open-ended and you are essentially talking to a stranger so it feels like speed dating. How am I supposed to answer this? What am I going to say in 30 seconds?!
Come up with two or three buzz words to jog your memory that you need to then weave into the conversation. Pretend you are actually doing a sales call or find a freelancing buddy that you can do a quick skype or zoom call with and do a mock interview. Play around, get comfortable with the words, decide what you want to say and what you like to mix and then keep those buzz words in your brain so if you get asked that question again, you can feel much more confident about answering it.
I hope this helps you a little bit. I will say that sales calls are my most hated thing. I used to get heart palpitations that a potential client or even a current client wanted to get on the phone. The more you do the better you get and as always, fake it till you make it. Confidence is half the battle in this freelancing thing and especially in closing sales calls.
HI, I’M LAURA!
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