‘Tell Me About Yourself’ is the most popular way for hiring managers to start most one-on-one interviews.
How to answer the ‘tell me about yourself interview question
Yet so many people just don’t get it right and perhaps lose out because of that. Here is how you can deal with it.
After the informal chat about the weather and travel and so on, most interviewers will start off the formal part of the interview with something like this:
“Tell me about yourself”
The words may vary of course but the request is to start talking and get the interview under way. It is at this point that PANIC sets in. What do they want to hear? Where do I start? How long have you got?
Your answer to this really is quite simple when you think about it this way: The reason you are sitting in this room with this interviewer is to convince them that you are the person they need to hire. Therefore what they want to hear from you are reasons and facts to convince them that you ARE the right person to hire.
This is a job interview! Tell me about yourself means they do NOT want to hear irrelevant stuff about where you go to watch football or your pets’ names or how your grandchild just lost her first tooth. (I’ve heard all of these.)
What they DO want to hear is a brief introduction to show how your career brought you to THIS point of being here in THIS room with them. This means you need to show where and how you got started, the decisions and changes you made along the way and that the role you are about to be interviewed for is the right progression for your career. But not only is it right for you but with your interest, enthusiasm and skills it will be right for the prospective employer as well. And do all this in about 3 minutes!
For your answer to the ‘tell me about yourself’ interview question, you have three minutes to hold their attention and tell them how you took up your first job after college or university and gained specific skills as you progressed. Add to this your promotions or appointments to new job roles and how you sought out opportunities to develop in your chosen career. Spend most of your three minutes on your most recent job and how the expertise you have matches the underlying needs of the new job.
Then state most carefully that when you saw this new job being advertised, you became very excited as to the closeness of the match and the career development opportunity you envisioned. And that is why you are so pleased to be at this interview.
And that is how you construct your interview answer to the “tell me about yourself” command at job interviews.
The ‘tell me about yourself’ interview question is in fact a gift to you because Self Introduction Is Your Key To Interview Success