Tell me about yourself

One of the most common ways to open an interview is the old favourite tell me about yourself.

Most people treat this question as an invitation to ramble. They start talking about all sorts of things that are not related at all to their ability to do the job. Believe me, this is of no interest to the interviewer.

Despite the informal sound of the question, tell me about yourself is part of the interview and should be treated that way. Get it right and you’ll not only be off to a great start, you’ll also go a long way to reinforce the great first impression you’ve made with your interview attire and interview etiquette.

The best way to answer this question is to prepare an introduction to you as part of your interview preparation. So where do you start? Actually, not at the beginning. Despite how it may sound they don’t actually want to hear all about your life. The interviewer is looking for answers to the core questions

• Are you capable of doing the job? Are you technically capable and experienced enough for the challenges of the position?

• Are you able to fit the team/organisation? Are you the type of personality who will fit into the team and company culture?

• Are you willing to do the job? Will you be motivated and perform at your best if given the opportunity?

What they want to hear from you is how you can be the person they are looking for; why you are the right match for the job. The question “so tell me about yourself” is really your opportunity to begin to tell them why you are qualified to be just that person. Start by focusing on the employer! What is it that they will be looking for? Take some time to think about matching your skills and experience to the role and the company. List the skills and experience that are relevant to the job, and then ask yourself the key questions: Why can you do this job? How can you prove it? The best response is a brief summary of your professional career that takes in the key skills and required for the role. Here’s what you need to do

Who you are

Introduce yourself as a (insert the job title you wish to be). This is the professional definition of who you are, and it helps the interviewer to see you in that light. You add weigh by mentioning the length of experience you have.

Responsibilities & achievements

Include the key responsibilities you have held, and the key achievements of that period. Remember, you need to provide proof to back up what you say. Now, you don’t want to include every job you’ve ever had; keep it relevant by describing your most recent and relevant career history.

What you offer

Think about the core competencies of the role and let them know the attributes you have developed that you can bring to the table. What are the core competencies of the role?

When you’re all done practice your introduction until you feel comfortable with the main points and are happy you can deliver it on the day. And don’t worry that your effort will go to waste. Even if the tell me about yourself question doesn’t come up, your preparation will help your interview performance by helping you focus on showing yourself to be the right match for the role.

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