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Interview questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “Why do you want this job?” are so broad, I just don’t know where to start or how long to talk. Can you advise me?

Q: Interview questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “Why do you want this job?” are so broad, I just don’t know where to start or how long to talk. Can you advise me?

A: I’m glad you recognize that it’s important to identify the questions you would just as soon not be asked…and then prepare to respond to them well. Let’s take your two examples together, because they may merit the same answer. For example: I want to litigate for a living, being from a large family and always having had to speak up and be as convincing as my siblings. At your firm, there would be people to guide me while I work hard to hold my own and grow, as I always did in the family and when serving clients at previous jobs.

That response is short but not clipped or curt, it humanizes and professionalizes you. You could talk a little longer, if the interviewer–as you read his or her cues and body language–seems interested for you to continue. Or, you could stop there and await the next question.

It’s not as hard as you think. An interview is a conversation about a subject you know well…yourself…with a focus on what you could do to help the employer and its clients.