Studies show that people form an impression within minutes of meeting someone, so you need to get this right.

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When you sit down for a job interview, the first question from the hiring manager is likely to be, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

Studies show that people form an impression within minutes of meeting someone, so you need to get this right.

You should relentlessly rehearse this answer to make sure it’s succinct, it’s powerful and it starts off the interview on the right foot. Since this mini-bio can be used in several other areas of your job search — a networking elevator pitch, the opening paragraph of a cover letter, an email introduction — hone it to perfection.

It’s important to keep it under two minutes. Here’s why.

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First, you want to let the hiring manager have control of the interview, especially in the beginning. If you start off the first 10 minutes of a 30-minute interview with a monologue about the details of every job you’ve ever had, you lose the back-and-forth, give-and-take conversation that builds rapport.

Second, what you say can hurt you. If you spend five minutes talking about your extensive design experience, and it turns out that skill is only needed about 10 percent of the time, you’ll come off as a poor fit for the position. At some point near the beginning of an interview, you want to get the hiring manager to talk about what the perfect candidate looks like. Listen intently! By picking up on the specific requirements of the job, as well as subtle clues, you can tailor your responses during the rest of the interview.

Third, this is not the time to simply recap your résumé. Not only will it seem lazy and redundant (the hiring manager probably reviewed it before the interview and has it right in front of him or her), but it is also what every other candidate will probably do. Here is a chance to distinguish yourself from the pack.

What to do instead:

• Cover the early part of your career quickly, but with something memorable

• Summarize your recent jobs with a big-picture perspective

• Throw it back to the interviewer to dig deeper and determine their needs.

A great example

Here is an excellent mini-bio:

“I grew up in Northern California, and my family moved to Seattle when I was 8, when my dad took a job at Microsoft. For as long as I can remember, we had all these computers around the house, and as soon as he let me start tinkering with them, I was hooked.

“I got a computer science degree from the University of Washington in 2009, and my first job out of school was installing new web software for small real estate companies to let them be more productive and increase their sales. After two years, I joined a startup with an amazing team and was the project manager for their first mobile app launch.

“When I look back at my experience thus far — and I’m happy to give more specific examples at each position — my greatest strength has been the ability to spot emerging technology trends and learn them quickly, then work with teams and help companies profitably integrate them into their business.

“That’s why I was so excited to see your job posting for this project manager position, since it looked like such a great fit. Can you tell me a little bit more about it and the type of person you’re looking for?”

The selling points of the sample bio:

• Total time: Less than a minute. Quick and to the point.

• The candidate paints a picture of how his upbringing shaped who he was.

• He summarizes his two jobs quickly, but is able to reference relevant keywords: productivity, sales increases, startup atmosphere, team members, mobile.

• While he doesn’t dive deep into the details of his job, he makes sure he’s not hiding them by offering to give specific examples later in the interview.

• By mentioning his greatest strength, it shows a degree of self-awareness and, of course, is tailored to the position.

• Lastly, he finishes strong, tying things back to the position at hand and prompting the interviewer to expand on what he’s looking for.