How to Answer the Interview Question “Tell Me About Yourself?”

Go to ten job interview’s, eight will start with the first question being “tell me about yourself”. It’s a great question to open up a discussion while allowing hiring managers to gain information in a short period of time.

“Tell Me About Yourself”

Over the year’s I have often used this question at the start of my candidate interviews. What has surprised me over the year’s, is how candidates answer the question, and how many candidates make a complete and utter mess, of what is a fundamental job interview question.

How Not to Answer the Question

Before we talk about answering this job interview question, let’s start with, how not to answer the question.The idea behind this question is to get a basic understanding of your career history and experience, while remembering that you’re in a job interview. We will discuss further what I want to see in your job interview, however, I don’t want to see any of the following;

  • Please don’t throw the question back to me with the, “What would you like to know”. In my case it’s normally replied with a very sarcastic “you’re in a job interview, what do you think I want to know?”.
  • Unless you’re a graduate interviewing for your first role, I don’t want to know where you went to school, what you studied or why you studied it.
  • I don’t want a 15-minute speech covering an in-depth description of everything you did during the early part of your career.
  • At this stage, I don’t want an in-depth speech about your present career.
  • I also don’t want to know about your hobbies or what you enjoy doing outside of the office.

How to Answer the Interview Question “Tell Me About Yourself?”

To answer this question, you need to give the interviewer a short two-to-three minute speech about your career history, your knowledge and your experience.I want to make it clear, you need to keep the reply to this question brief. No thirty-minute speeches, no talking about your family. I want a good well thought out two-to-three minute speech about your career and what you have achieved.

The Tell Me About Yourself Step’s

Step One – Provide a brief introduction to who you are. For example, “I am a C-Level executive with ten years’ experience in providing result’s under challenging environments and leading, training and motivating large teams.”

Step Two – This is where you need to summarise your most recent work history to support your career objectives. My advice is to focus heavily on the most recent ten years of your career. Generally, hiring managers are less concerned about the early part of your career.

As an example, I would start this section by saying something like, “I started my career in…”, before focusing on your recent career by telling the hiring manager something like, “Most recently I have had the challenge of trying to improve a company that had serious cash flow management problems. We focused on……..”

Step Three – Here you need to explain how your experience will help the hiring organisation. Make sure you connect all the dot’s while explaining how your experience is transferable.

For example “I was looking into your past financial records and understand the challenges you face on a day-to-day basis. I believe my experience with crisis-management situations will help during the day-to-day cash-flow management.”

Step Four – Ask a question. You need to make sure you ask a good question that will help you control the interview while engaging the interviewer in a conversation. Don’t ask a simple “yes or no” question as this could cause the conversation to stop.

As an example, a great question could be, – “What strategies are you currently using to improve your cash flow situation OR what areas of my career would you like to know more about?”

Finally

It’s much better to be too short and precise than too long. If you stick with the above advice, you cannot go wrong in your next job interview.

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Nick Jones

My name Nick Jones, I am a professional Head-Hunter with over 20 years of experience working all over the world. I specialise in out-of-the-box job search strategies to get your CV directly to the hiring manager, thus skipping any ATS portals or recruiters who think they're important.

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