tell me about yourself interview question

As interview questions go, the initial ‘tell me about yourself’ one should be a breeze! After all, you’re the person who’s best placed to answer it thoroughly and passionately, aren’t you?

It commonly crops up in interviews, whether online or in-person, and it’s designed with a few aims in mind.

Firstly, you might not be the only one feeling a little nervous at the start of the interview. The interviewers may need a few minutes to relax and feel entirely comfortable with their role in the process too. So, the ‘tell me about yourself’ gives them time to breathe and compose themselves. It also gives you time to centre yourself and prepare yourself for success.

The second aim is to see how easily you communicate with others and whether you can convey information clearly and concisely. This is an essential soft skill needed in all roles and organisations.

Lastly, this ice-breaker question is a fantastic opportunity to see where the interview might lead. A CV or job application can only offer so much information on a candidate’s past experiences and skills. Hopefully, a well-executed answer will lead to an interview that flows nicely, and the interviewer will get the most information out of you to make an informed decision about whether to progress you in the process.

It can be daunting knowing how much detail to include about your skills, experiences, and other interests, so in this blog, I’d like to explore how to nail your answer!

Variations on the ‘tell me about yourself’ question

It’s helpful to think about how else this question might be phrased. If you’re expecting the questions in one format and you’re thrown a bit of a curve ball, the last thing you want is to feel unsure and flustered.

Other ways the interviewer may pose the questions include:

  •       I’ve looked over your CV, but could you expand on it for me?
  •       I’d like to hear about your career journey.
  •       Tell me a little about your background.
  •       I’m interested in learning more about you.

 You only get one chance to make a great first impression with your interview panel, so preparation is vital to ensure you don’t leave out any important information.

tell me about yourself question interview

Preparing your answer

There are a couple of different ways you can structure your answer. One way is to use the present – past – future format.

What does that mean?

Present. What’s your current role? What have been your biggest achievements? What have you enjoyed about the scope of your role? What are you passionate about?

Remain positive about your current situation, and be mindful of complaining or talking negatively about your line management or current work situation.

Past. How did you get to where you are now? What skills and experiences have you gained along the way that are a good fit for the role you’re interviewing for?

Future. Where do you see yourself going in the next 2-5 years? What attracted you to the role? Why would you be a good fit for the organisation and team?

You could play about with the order you discuss each of these sections to tell your unique story. Whichever way you choose, it’s a good idea to end with “… and that’s why I’m here today”, or some variation on this statement.

This will leave the interview panel with a solid mental image of why you’re a great fit and why they should think of progressing you to the next stage of the recruitment process… or even hire you straight away

Another approach is to draft an answer which covers these main points:

  • How is your current role similar to the role you’re applying for?
  • Explain your ‘Why’. Why were you attracted to this role? Why are you a good fit for the role and organisation? Why are you doing what you do?
  • How do your values, skills, achievements etc., align with the organisation’s values? Make sure you do plenty of research on the company and try to find out who’ll be interviewing you, so you can find some background information through LinkedIn or the company’s website.

More tips for interview success

  1. Include keywords from the job description and sprinkle these liberally into your answer.
  2. Think about your audience and tailor the detail to match the interviewer’s seniority and influence.
  3. Always remain professional. But don’t be robotic.
  4. Be clear and concise. Don’t jump all over the place!
  5. Think about your tone of voice. Be positive and passionate. Practice, but don’t create a script!

Would you like someone in your corner to help you through the interview process?

For more information about how I can guide you through the interview process, contact me to book a free, no-obligation 30-minute phone consultation.

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