Written by Carol Ford
In most job interviews, after polite comments about the weather and traffic, the interviewer sits back comfortably in their chair and, in a light and friendly tone, says, “Tell me about yourself.”
Job seekers often aren’t sure how best to respond to this question. What information is too personal? What details are most important for a potential employer to know? The tendency is to share information that isn’t contained in their resumes or application letters.
Many Christians feel a strong urge to use this opportunity to affirm their commitment to Christ. But as someone who has worked in human resources and as an employment counsellor, my advice is to avoid starting an interview with this declaration. Often, the pushback I receive is, “I want them to know where I stand, and if they don’t like the idea of my convictions, I don’t want to work there.” Their relationship to Christ is the most important information they feel should be shared, and it’s difficult not to do so.
In Mark 8:38, Christ said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” And in Matthew 10:33, He also said, “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”
These words are true and important. However, an employer will be much more receptive to your Christian beliefs if you demonstrate ethical behaviours—honesty, fairness, dependability, kindness, respect for authority, and being a good team member.
So, what is the best way you can respond when asked this question? Resumes don’t get jobs—they get interviews. Therefore, the interview is a vital part of the recruitment process.“Tell me about yourself” is often just a way of opening the conversation, so you should focus on work-related content—education, skills, past job/volunteer experience, and personal attributes. Most interviewers want to make sure you can support everything you’ve written in your resume; it’s up to you to make your experience believable for the hiring manager.
By preparing a short summary ahead of time, you will be ready for this opening question. A couple of examples follow:
“I live in this region and have watched your organization grow and expand worldwide. I would like to join such a company. My bachelor’s degree, with a major in economics, matches your opening for this entry-level position. I’m a conscientious, accurate, and dependable worker with co-op experience in a local bank. I can provide excellent references from my other part-time positions while attending school.”
“I am completing a human resources management diploma next month from college, and I will graduate with honours. As part of this program, I held an intern position with a large insurance company, and have also worked in a variety of retail settings. My employers and supervisors have always commented on my good interpersonal skills and ability to build a rapport with customers. Your current opening for an administrative assistant would offer me an opportunity to apply my education and work experience.”
Occasions will come to demonstrate your hope in Christ on the job. When you are offered a position and begin building relationships with your fellow employees, God will give you opportunities to share your faith in informal settings. It’s then that you can be “a pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).