“Tell Me About Yourself” is one of the most commonly asked questions in a job interview. Its likely to come at the beginning of the interview and how you answer this could affect the rest of the interview. This can be a challenging question to answer if you don’t know exactly what the interviewer wants to hear and what information you should include in your answer. The key thing to remember is the interviewer wants information relevant to the job you are interviewing for.
When you answer this question, you want to be prepared and give a strong answer that focuses on what you can bring to the job. You don’t want to fumble through a vague answer with unimportant information.
This is a question you don’t want to make up on the spot as it could definitely cause the rest of the interview to go downhill.
To start with, let’s think about why interviewers ask this question. Firstly, it gives them the chance to see how you answer a casual question without structure – this may be partly why this question throws us off. We are used to interviews having strict, structured questions so when one is asked so casually, it can make us second guess ourselves.
So seeing how you react to this can be telling for the interviewer. The second reason interviewers like to ask this question is because they get to see what you consider to be important – i.e. what information about yourself you think is important enough to use to answer this question.
When answering this question, what you want to work into your answer is around five strengths you have that are important to the job. These could be experience you have as well as traits and skills you have. For example, you could have strong communication skills which allow you to form good relationships with people easily.
There are some things you also want to avoid when answering this question. Firstly, you don’t want to just spew out your resume – the interviewer has already seen and read this, they want to know more about you, not what they already know.
They also do not want your life story. This isn’t your chance to start an autobiography, save the stories for after you’re hired for your colleagues. This is an easy trap to fall into however, as its the easiest way to answer the question, but if you keep in mind that you don’t want to do this, it should help you navigate your way around it. Added to this, you don’t want to keep talking about yourself for too long.
Don’t go on a 10 minute ramble about yourself – as they say, no one likes someone who only talks about themselves. You want to keep your answer short and sweet, between 1-2 minutes. Obviously you won’t necessarily be able to fit in all your best points into this time frame so this is why its important to plan and decide what are the best factors you want to include. Most important of all, don’t ask “What do you want to know?”. This is a big no-no!
All this screams to the interviewer is you are unprepared and this won’t look good in their eyes.
So now you know what you don’t want to say or do in answer to this question, lets think about what you should say. When answering the question, you need to focus on what the interviewer is interested in. Although you may find certain parts of your life interesting, are they relevant to the job and are they what someone who may hire you wants to hear?
So in your head, you need to be thinking that its not about you, its about them. So in your answer you want to include the primary selling points you have that apply to this job. But you also want to include why you are interested in this position right now.
You can explain why you feel the role you are applying for is the best step for you to take next, not only for yourself but for the company too. So lets have a look in some more detail at how to answer this question.
The first step to give a little bit of information on who you are. When doing this you want to give information on your professional self, for example, by saying I have been an accounts manager for 10 years. What you want to avoid is giving too much of a personal background on yourself, for example, where you grew up, how you performed in primary school etc. Avoid giving too much information and stick to your professional identity.
After this you want to give some detail of your strengths. Use this time to highlight a few key points that are unique and can make you stand out. This may have already been listed on your resume, but thats okay if you keep it short and as mentioned above, don’t spend the entire time just reeling off your resume. However, you want to keep it relevant so don’t talk about your first job as a paperboy when you were 14 but instead focus on points that could be beneficial to the role you are applying for.
Finally you want to finish by telling the interviewer why you have applied for this job and are here today. You do this by telling them why you want the position. You want to be positive about this for example, say you are looking for a more challenging role.
What you don’t want to sound negative or sound as if any job would do. You need to make the interviewer believe you want this job in particular and to work for the specific company. So you don’t want to say something along the lines of “I’m looking for new opportunities” as this could sound to vague and that you may be applying for every position going.
You also don’t want to sound as though you left your lsat position on negative terms, such as you had issues with your boss, as this could make the interviewer wonder whether you could issues with colleagues in their company if they hired you.
My last piece of advice would be, as hard as it is, try not to squeeze in to much detail into this segment. You will have time to talk in more detail about different aspects of your experience and expertise.
But if you reel off to much information in one go, it could cause the interviewer to tune out and they might not fully absorb some important information because it was surrounded by stuff they already know and are not interested in.
If you follow these three steps, your answer will be great!
• First, talk about past experiences and success.
• Secondly, mention your strengths and abilities that you can bring to the job.
• Finish by summarising your current situation.
For example, you might be looking for a job where you have the opportunity to use your customer relation skills and to work with a company for values this.