The Great Reveal: How to Answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question

This question is generally asked at the opening of an interview – it can be a great asset to answer it correctly but it is one that you can get very wrong. It can also be framed, take me through your CV, outlining the areas of your work experience and competencies in relation to the role of…

This question strikes fear in people and they commonly say – “I don’t know what the employer is looking for” – You will know by reading the Job Advert and the Person Specification carefully – underline the key words: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! If you prepare you’ll be surprised how easily you will sail through your answer.

Know The Buyer!

The employer has listed what they want in the Job Advertisement – it’s up to you to tell them that you have the required skills / attributes – use their words in your answer.

The best answer will begin by briefly telling the employer what they are looking for and then outline your main selling points that explains that you have what they require. When you focus on your relevant qualifications for the job you increase your chances of convincing the interviewer that you are ready for the challenge.

Why Interviewers Ask You the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question

From the interviewer’s perspective, this enquiry is one of the best for finding out if a candidate is suited to the role. It is worth remembering that the hiring manager wants to like you; it is in their interest to find the best candidates for their company. Recruitment is an expensive business and they want to get it right first time. The idea is to get you talking and to hear from you that you are the right person for the job.

How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself”

You can use the most frequently stated do’s and don’ts in job interviews to help you avoid ineffectively answering any interview question. The don’ts when answering this particular question can be summed up:

Don’t

  • Regurgitate your CV
  • Be too modest OR too arrogant
  • Include irrelevant information such as your favourite colour or wine
  • Discuss aspects of your career that have little or no relevance to the role or industry in question

You need to answer this question with laser-like precision, and it is a much simpler task than you think. The best answer to any common interview question is short and succinct. You may need to inject just enough personality to get the hiring manager to like you but resist the urge to ramble, brag, or hide in your shell. A great answer involves the following:

Do

  • Detail ‘Who’ You Are: Begin by outlining who you are professionally and throw in a couple of strengths
  • Provides an Overview of Your Skills: Your interviewer may not remember your CV, so remind them by highlighting a few key skills that make you a good fit for the job
  • Explain Why You Want the Job: If we’re cynical, the main reason to get a job is to pay your rent and not starve to death, but the interviewer already knows that! Instead, outline that you want a new challenge and believe that the company and the job offer’s it.

Things to Avoid When Answering “Tell Me About Yourself”

Perhaps the biggest mistake interviewees make when answering this question is to go off on a tangent. The result is an answer that is an incoherent and rambling mess. You know it is a common interview question, so there is no excuse for not creating a ‘scripted’ answer and sticking to it. Remember, it is usually one of the first questions asked, so there is little danger of repeating information already mentioned in the interview.

In any case, here are a few things you should avoid mentioning:

  • Religious or Political Affiliations: Avoid at all costs. You have no idea if the interviewer shares your views, so it is best to keep a lid on it
  • Personal Information: This means anything you wouldn’t ordinarily tell a stranger. It also relates to information about your family

Frequently Asked Interview Questions Related to ‘Tell Me About Yourself”

  • While the following questions are not necessarily the same as “Tell me about yourself,” they are all designed to gain a greater insight into ‘who’ you are personally and professionally.

 

  • “Describe Yourself”
  • “Why Would You Like to Work for Us?”
  • “What Makes You Unique?”
  • “Outline What You Do in Your Current Position.”
  • “Where Do You See Yourself In 5/10 Years?”
  • “What Motivates You?”
  • “What Are You Passionate About?”
  • “Why Should We Hire You?”
  • “Why Do You Want This Job?”
  • “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

In summary: Read the Job Advert / Person Specification; if you have what they are looking for or as near as possible begin by outlining what they want and proceed to tell them that you have the skills, experience, and drive to successfully do the Job.

Good Luck!