It’s spoken by practically every interviewer at every job interview: “So, tell me about yourself.”

Yet instead of wanting your life history, your hiring manager is actually looking for something else: she wants to know how articulate you are and how well you handle an unstructured question. After all, this question – unlike most interview questions – isn’t baldly related to a job interview: It feels like a question a new friend might ask.

But don’t be fooled! The hiring manager isn’t that interested at all in your life story.

What the interviewer really wants to know is what you consider important about your job and career history.

One would think that a great response to the question – one that would help you really answer the question for the employer (you’re a helpful person, after all!) is “What do you want to know?”

Instead of coming across as helpful, this answer only helps you appear unprepared, which implies that you may be unprepared for the job.

After all, as a healthcare professional you’ve undoubtedly been in other interview situations, if only the interview for admission to college and your advanced degree program. You’ve heard the question before; you know it’s coming.

So what is a good answer?

Tell the interviewer how you became interested in a career in healthcare, and how you’ve become interested in working as a healthcare traveler. Mention how you came to apply for this particular company and/or for this particular assignment.

Aim to keep the personal talk to a minimum. Sure, mention that your father was an occupational therapist and he’s inspired and encouraged you to take on the career yourself, but otherwise keep your answer to professional issues.

You can then discuss about five different strengths you offer an employer (or this travel assignment). They can be your willingness to try new things, your flexibility, your particular skills and educational background, etc.

In other words, look at “So, tell me about yourself” as an opportunity showcase the skills and talents you bring to an employer.

Because you know an interviewer is going to ask you to tell her about yourself, write down some of the things you’ll want to be sure you highlight. “Memorize” this information (but don’t regurgitate it word for word; you don’t want to sound like you’re playing a role) so that you can speak easily, letting your personality shine through.

If you’re a healthcare professional (RN, PT, OT, speech therapist, pharmacist, or other allied health professional) and you’re interested in learning more about working as a healthcare traveler, put together a short “tell me about yourself” answer and contact the recruiters at MedPro Healthcare Staffing. We look forward to hearing from you.