It is said that how you answer the “tell me about yourself” job interview question can set the tone of an interview.
You have made the shortlist and been called to interview. Congratulations! That in itself is something you should be pleased with.
The interview process is a costly and lengthy process so making it this far should always be appreciated. In fact you should give yourself a small treat as a reward for getting to this stage.
Now that you have a date for your interview you can really prepare yourself to make sure you impress and get that job!
Go over the job description; make sure you know it inside out. Check your CV / resume and try to see what questions you might be asked. For example, if you have been out of work for a while – you are probably going to be asked what you have been doing. Be ready with a good reason.
“Hello, would you tell me about yourself.”
One of the first and most important questions you are likely to be asked is the “tell me about yourself” interview question. Whilst this might seem an innocuous opening or ice-breaker, you should be very careful how you answer this question.
You are usually invited for an interview based on written evidence gained either from your CV, resume, application form or letter of application. In most cases this is the first time that interviewer or employer will have met you in person.
This question is designed to give the interviewer a little more information about you in person. It can also give them an idea of what type of person you are and also provide clues as to which further questions to ask.
Good sample answer to the tell me about yourself interview question:
“My name is Anna Bodi. I have 4 years’ experience in hospitality. As you can see from my CV / resume I have worked in some of the most prestigious wine bars and restaurants in Anytown. Last year I won a national award for staff training which I am proud of because I think that helped create a great team and happy working environment. I am well aware of your company’s excellent reputation and believe that I could make a positive contribution to your team.”
Remember when answering the “tell me about yourself” interview question it is not an invitation to reveal your personal life. Do not ramble, but keep it relevant to the job and the organisation.
Bad answer to the “tell me about yourself” interview question
Let’s take this sample answer:
“My name is Anna Bodi. I am 25 years old. I have two brothers and one sister. I came from Italy last year to learn English at Anytown college. I have done this job before in my country. Now I can speak a little English, I think maybe I can do this job because I am a quick learner.
I live with my partner and we have one child. My partner works from home and she looks after our little girl so I can work flexible hours.”
You can see not only is this response quite vague with little information about her skills, experience and ability to do the job; it also introduces topics that need not be discussed at interview.
Look again at the answer. By telling the interviewer that she has a child, the interviewer now has information that they might not have been able to ask. Read our illegal interview questions to find further examples of what an interviewer can and cannot ask you at interview.
The best way to answer the “tell me about yourself” question is to give an answer that summarises your relevant work experience, introduces and highlights your skills; but most importantly allows you to ‘pitch’ why you are the right person for the job.
Interview skills can always be improved.
Using a Professional Interview Coach
It doesn’t matter whether this is your first job interview or you are a mature job seeker. You need to be at your best during your interview.
Using the services of a good professional interview coach is something you should consider. Working together, you can put in place an individual plan to address your needs.
You can practice specific areas of concern and unique answers that won’t sound prepared – because they are true. Most importantly, they will give you coping strategies that will help you deal with interview nerves and anxiety.
There are some excellent interview skills courses that you can access which will give you the opportunity to ask in-depth questions, learn and gain a deeper understanding of the whole recruitment process.
By familiarising yourself with difficult interview questions you are likely to be asked, your interview skills presentation will seem more natural and your confidence will increase. You can also find some popular interview questions and interview questions you may be asked here at The Personal Development Cafe.
If you have any interview tips, a topic you wish to raise or questions you would like answered, you can use our comments form below. All comments will be reviewed and then posted as soon as possible.