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“Tell Me About Yourself” | Interview Question Tips

tell me about yourself

The ‘tell me about yourself’ question in a job interview may seem straightforward but it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase your qualifications, experience and personality to a potential employer, not just rattle off what you like to do on the weekends.

Being able to craft a good response to this question needs preparation. Your answer will be assessed for your ability to communicate well, motivation, ability to think on your feet, and whether you’re a good fit for the company’s culture and values.

Answering this question well will mean you can highlight experience that you have that is relevant to the role, your career aspirations, skill set, work ethic, ability to work independently and in a team. All of this adds up to the potential to create a strong sales pitch that really sets you apart from other candidates.

This article will teach you why this question is so famous among interviewers. It will train you how to properly respond to it to meet their expectations.

Why is the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question So Important?

In a job interview, you will have to answer lots of questions, but this one is particularly infamous when it comes to interview preparation. This will be your chance to flaunt your best qualities and skills and prove that you are fit for the job.

The interviewer is not only interested in your qualifications and experiences, but they want to get to know more about you, and this time, they are not only interested in hearing facts about your resume that they already know, but they also want to hear about you as a person so they can establish if you’re a great fit for the team.

What Are Interviewers Looking for in Your Answer?

Whenever interviewers pop up this question, they are searching for a couple of key things such as:

  • Your ability to sell yourself: Use this chance to self-promote your skills and qualities that match the job description. Take your time. Think about what sets you apart from other candidates and use it to your own advantage.
  • Your communication skills: Do not just use this opportunity to tell people about your communication skills, but show them directly. Showcase your skills and confidence by responding clearly and in a straightforward way. There is no need to give long boring speeches. Simply pay attention, listen to the interviewer and answer accordingly.
  • Your ability to think on your feet: The interviewer might want to test how well you handle pressure. This question can make you nervous as it’s so open- ended. Try to keep your cool, take a few seconds to collect your thoughts before you answer. If you take cue cards or notes into the room with you, this can be a good question to briefly check them to make sure you cover the key points that you want to.
  • Your motivation: Employers will want to know if you are genuinely excited about the job position and really show interest in the company’s work. Show them that you are motivated and thrilled about this opportunity with your answer.

How to Answer the Question Effectively

Let’s dive directly into some successful tactics to answer this famous question. These strategies will not only leave a long-lasting impression but it will even convince them that you are an absolute must-hire!

Give an Overview of Your Previous Experience

When they ask this question, use it as a chance to give them a quick rundown of your professional journey. Grab this opportunity, give a good first impression and explain why you are the best candidate for this position.

Briefly highlight your most relevant work experience and skills. You can also make mention of any accomplishment related to the job you are competing for. Remember: keep it short and sweet. Do NOT run through your entire CV – they already have this in front of them.

You can get some plus points by opening up about past experiences either personally or professionally that shape the skills and expertise you bring to the role. You can also grab this chance to give them a glimpse of your personality.

Let’s pretend for example, you are there to apply for a job in customer service. Share a story about a time when you went out of your way to help a customer. This small story not only shows your skills but also the type of person you are.

Talk About Your Career Development Ambitions

You will definitely be asked about your career development ambitions’ during an interview. You need to give an answer that will impress your interviewer. Keep in mind that this answer will give them a vision of your goals and motivations.

When talking about career development, try to do so in a way that fits the role you’re applying for. If you know the company has a management fast track program and it interests you, this is a good time to say that.

Equally, if you’re applying for a lower level role but want to climb the ranks as you gain experience and qualifications, telling your potential employer this signifies that you’re in it for the long-haul and are pro-actively thinking about your career progression beyond this role.

Be sure to include comments on why the role you’re interviewing matters to you. Talk about which aspect of this job you find appealing and how you see the role developing. This will demonstrate that you have really given a deep thought about this position and how it plays an important role in your career journey.

Finish your answer to this question on a high with a positive example of your achievements of relevant skill set that also shows your personality. For example, if you play team sports at the weekend, share how the skills you need for that tip over into your work too.

Explain How Your Skill Set Matches the Position

During an interview, do not speak about all the skills that you have. Instead, only make mention of those related to your job and relate how they have helped you in your career. Let’s say for example you want to apply for a project manager position.

Only talk about how you have successfully completed all your projects on time, and this, under budget, all thanks to your strategic planning competences. Similarly, if you are applying for a sales position, tell them how your sales have increased due to your excellent ability to build relationships with your customers.

In other words, just be specific and use examples to support your statements. Once again, do not make mention of irrelevant skills or that has no relation to the job you are seeking to get. If you do so, you will only end up confusing the interviewer and lower your probabilities of securing the job.

Describe How Your Ethics and Values Fit with the Company

If you have good business ethics, let them know! It is a plus and will impress the job interviewer. Do not just tell them that you possess these qualities, instead, it is better to explain to them what makes you believe in these things as well as how they help in guiding your work. It is equally important for the company you want to work for to know and respect your work ethics.

To give you an idea, imagine you are being interviewed for a position where you will have to deal with a lot of customer interaction. You can talk about how honesty and always being fair to customers lie at the top of your work ethic beliefs.

Here is another example; you are being interviewed for a job where you will have a lot of independent work to do. This time you will not talk about honesty but explain how maintaining high standards of quality control is important to you when working without direct supervision.

When you talk about beliefs that are related to the job, it helps to prove that you are committed to them. This will help build a good image of yourself and even make you a valuable asset that they will want in their team.

Talk About How You Function Well in a Team

Good teamwork is an important element of every successful workplace so being able to demonstrate how you work well within a team is a key point to get across in the answer to the question ‘tell me about yourself’.

You can use examples from your professional career to date, family teamwork examples, or your sports and hobbies that require working well with others. Whichever example you choose, focus on what you bring to the team, how you react to others, and your flexibility in overcoming challenges faced in a team environment.

Are you a great people reader? Can you delegate tasks? Can you work with anyone and anywhere? Do you like to get on and work? Share these things too. You can strengthen your claims by making it sound more real with the help of examples.

Take a moment to remember a time when you had your team’s back or how thanks to your intervention your team successfully reached its objectives. Do not simply list your achievements, not only does it sound boring but it also does not tell much about you.

Instead, share anecdotes of your participation as a team member and how it helped the team. Sharing your experiences will provide interviewers a better idea about the type of employee you will be.

Explain Your Confidence in Working Independently

If you have what it takes to work independently, you already have more chances of getting the job than your competitors that cannot. Some of the traits that employees want to see in the people they hire are: self-motivation and dedication. They like when their employees are able to take proper initiatives and are able to work independently.

With increasingly more companies adopting flatter structures, employees must be able to handle individual roles and responsibilities. In this era, not being able to work independently is a big handicap as this skill is becoming more and more valuable.

As mentioned before, don’t just list abilities, show them through examples. Use examples and anecdotes to demonstrate how you succeeded in working independently. For example, when working remotely, you manage your time so you work during your most productive hours and have never missed a deadline because you use time tracking software to stay on track on tasks and workload.

Talk About Mistakes You Have Made and the Lessons You Learned

Employers are looking for candidates who are able to learn from their mistakes and grow from them. Mentioning a time when you made a mistake and what you learned from it shows that you are self-aware and resilient. Be sure to frame the story in a positive light – emphasise what you did to rectify the situation and what you learned from it.

In an interview, employers do not want to keep hearing how qualified or skilled you are. They also want to know about your weaknesses and mistakes and how you dealt with them as well as what it taught you.

So, do not hesitate to admit your mistakes to them. In fact, it will show that you are mentally strong and able to self-reflect, which are valuable skills in themselves. When explaining how mistakes were made, also share how you recovered from them.

For example, if you went for a promotion but didn’t get the role, you could say that whilst you were initially sad, you didn’t let this loss demotivate you, instead, you worked harder, improved your skills and eventually you climbed up to that position. These kinds of stories show that you are a professional who is dedicated to learning and growing.

Talk About What You Like to do in Your Free Time

You will make a big mistake if you do not mention your personal life in a job interview. While you should not relate extremely personal stories, it is necessary to let interviewers know the things you are passionate about, especially if they are related to your work.

Suppose you are interviewing for a web developer job, you might mention that you’ve enjoyed coding as a hobby since you were young, or that you enjoy developing new apps and ideas in your spare time because it’s such a passion. This way, the interviewer will know that you are genuinely interested in what you do for work and aren’t just looking for a way to pay the bills.

Most hobbies and interests will have some overlap in terms of your professional role if you look hard enough. Play an instrument in an orchestra? That means you can work with others and take direction. Cox for a local rowing club? That means you can take charge of a group of people and motivate them to work hard.

Final Thoughts

Mastering your answer to the question ‘tell me about yourself’ in an interview is a great way to stay memorable after your interview is complete. By following the ideas laid out above, you will be able to create a well rounded answer that feels natural but also ticks the boxes that the interviewer needs to hear from you.

Far from just an ice breaker question, it’s a great way to set yourself above the competition by demonstrating great communication, relevant skills and experience, and showcase your personality.

Taking the time to prepare ideas for this type of question ahead of your interview will mean that you’re not grasping for ideas at the moment and instead can respond in a calm and collected way.

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