Tackling The ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Interview Question

A lot of interviews start with ‘Tell me about yourself’ interview question. Related: #1 Interview Question You Must Answer Correctly Personally, I think it is a lazy interviewer question - in fact, I don’t ever bother asking the question. Yet, since so many interviews start this way, it is good to have a great answer prepared. A lot of my clients ask me about this question. "What do they want to know?" Answer this question in terms of the skills and experience required for the position. This question is all about you as an employee, not about your personal life or whether you're a dedicated sports fan. Answer it by describing your best attributes relevant to the job. Interviewers also think it is improper or a sign of your lack of preparedness for you to answer their "Tell me about yourself" question with a question of your own like, "What would you like to know?" It's always a good to have an idea of what you’d like to say before you start talking! I suggest you learn to answer this question with a three part, pre-planned marketing statement that can more or less be reused from interview to interview.

  • Start with a brief summary of your career history – “I am a Product Manager with seven years of experience working for medium to large organizations the IT sector both in the UK and abroad.”
Then, talk them through briefly how your career developed but don’t just repeat what they can see on your resume. Talk to the interviewer more in terms of what you’ve learnt or achieved.
  • Mention a recent accomplishment that you are proud of that will also capture the potential employer's attention. You really want to focus on what makes you exceptional and how your skills and experience matches the requirements of the job.
  • A brief summary of specifically what you want to do next in your career or why you’re interested in this specific role.
Initially, when you answer this question, refrain from talking about personal stuff. It's not that what you do in your spare time isn’t interesting; it's just not the right time to bring it up. What you want to communicate is why you’re the right fit for the open position. Also, keep your answer brief – perhaps a couple of minutes. I’ve had people ramble on for 20 minutes about their whole life story when asked this question. You might want to prepare by writing down a few key points that you want to cover which you can practice before the interview. To see an example of how to answer this question + learn what questions to ask to uncover the hiring manager’s needs and how to answer even the toughest interview questions, sign up for my free 3-day ‘How to win at job interviews’ e-course: http://bit.ly/17IUcTb

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About the author

Margaret Buj is an interview coach who has been helping professionals get hired, promoted and paid more for over eight years. She is also a qualified Personal Performance & Corporate and Executive Coach and can help you with developing confidence and the attitude that will make it easier for you to get any job you want. Schedule a complimentary consultation with Margaret here.   Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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