“Tell me about yourself” is one of the most common and, at the same time, difficult interview questions. Job seekers make a mistake if they assume that an employer is asking this question just to start a conversation or defuse the situation. But it is not so.
Why Do Interviewers Ask “Tell Me About Yourself”?
When asking the “Tell me about yourself” question, an employer expects to receive an answer that will help form a general impression of what kind of person you are, and learn more about your skills, goals, and priorities.
This question allows the employer to hear a brief, generalized story about your professional qualities, skills, experience, and qualification, and understand which of these qualities you consider most relevant for the proposed position.
Another reason is the interviewer’s desire to find out how self-assured you are, and whether you are confident in your professional qualities. If you are hired, will you be able to present yourself as a specialist to clients, suppliers, and colleagues?
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Since the employer usually asks you to tell about yourself at the beginning of the interview, your answer will set the tone and mood for the rest of the conversation.
Therefore, do not neglect this issue, considering it too simple and not worthy of your attention and time, but be sure to prepare for it in advance.
After all, if you answer correctly, you will get the opportunity to highlight those skills and experience that will present you in the most favorable light as an ideal candidate for the position.
Bad Answers, or What You Should Not Talk About at the Job Interview
If an employer at the interview asks you to tell about yourself, do not think that he wants to know the story of your life.
Therefore, remember these few points that the employer does not need to talk about:
- Do not talk about your personal life.
- Do not retell the story of your life (starting from the moment you were born and ending with your graduation from the university, wedding, or the birth of children).
- Do not talk about the problems that exist at the current or were at the previous job.
- Do not retell your resume word for word.
Questions That Will Help You Prepare a Good Answer to the Question “Tell Me About Yourself”
The difficulty in answering the employer’s question most often lies in the fact that the job seeker does not know where to start the conversation. To prevent this from happening to you, prepare your answer in advance.
The following guiding questions will help you do this:
- What professional qualities do you have? Carefully study the job requirements and consider what skills, qualities, and experience you have. In what way do you surpass these requirements, what distinguishes you from other applicants?
- Why are you interested in this position? Why do you think this position should be the next step in your career advancement? Does this job match your career goals?
- Why are you interested in this company or this industry/field/sphere? If you have spent a little time and studied information about the company and the industry in which it operates, then you probably know about its mission and goals. Now think about whether the company’s goals are in line with your professional goals. When preparing for an interview, try to draw a parallel between the goals, the vision of the future of the company, and personal career goals and aspirations in your answer to the employer’s “Tell me about yourself” question.
- What positive qualities do you have? How do your colleagues, boss, and friends describe you? Maybe as a purposeful, hardworking person? Or generous and always ready to help? Remember the situations when these qualities manifested themselves.
- What skills would make you stand out from other job applicants? Try to find something special in yourself and tell the employer about it. For example: “You know, it is not casual that I’ve become a programmer. I remember when I was eight, my parents bought me my first computer, and even then I installed programs, and games, and tried to change something …”
How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in an Interview
Your answer to the question “Tell me about yourself” will likely set the tone and mood for the entire interview. So try to prepare a short but interesting story, lasting about 2 minutes.
Include the following four points in your answer:
- Tell about your professional experience, successes, and skills related to this position.
First, read again the job requirements. Determine the skills you have. Consider what examples from your professional life you can give the employer as a demonstration and confirmation of these skills. And also tell why these skills will be useful for the applying position.
For example, you are applying for the position of the HR manager, and in your last job, you conducted seminars and training for staff. Of course, tell the employer about this at the interview.
- Highlight your strengths and abilities.
It is desirable to confirm everything with examples and to quantify your achievements. For example:
I have improved the quality of customer service.
In one quarter, I achieved a 10% increase in the processing of customer requests.
- Highlight your personality.
The employer, asking the question “Tell me about yourself”, also wants to understand you as a person, but this does not mean that it is necessary to share information from your personal life. It is enough to mention your hobbies, or interests (for example, music, reading, sports, volunteering, or charity).
- Edit your story using one of the formulas: “present-past-future” or “past-present-future”.
These formulas will help you create a coherent and understandable story. Choose the option that suits the position you are applying for and matches your goals and professional experience.
For example, if you want to highlight the skills you have acquired at your current job, build your story according to the formula present-past-future.
If you want to focus the attention of the employer on your education and your advancement up the career ladder, then is suitable the past-present-future formula, where:
- Past: your knowledge and experience, the history of becoming a professional.
- Present: what you are doing at the moment, the main achievements.
- Future: what do you plan to do in the future, and why are you interested in this job?
How to Introduce Yourself in a Job Interview
First, your answer to the employer’s question “Tell me about yourself” should be thoughtful. The employer does not need information that you worked as an operator five years ago if you are currently applying for the HR manager position.
Second, your answer should be clear, specific, and short (just 2 minutes). Your skills and professional achievements should be the basis of your story about yourself.
Give a little background, then tell about a few of your main accomplishments and skills, use specific examples, and close with some information about your goals and interests.
And the last. You must structure your answer. That is, built according to one of the formulas discussed above (for example, according to the win-win formula past-present-future).
Sample Answers to the Interview Question “Tell Me About Yourself”
Your story about yourself should ideally consist of three parts:
- Job. These are experience, skills, and achievements. This part must be about 80% of the story.
- Education. Secondary or higher education, academic degrees, additional education, training, and courses. 10-15% of your story about yourself.
- Personal. 5-10%. Your interests, hobbies, and qualities
“I have been working as a technical project manager for seven years.
Graduated from the X University, faculty of business administration. After graduating, I got my first job as an administrative assistant at Company X. There I did mostly clerical work, making charts and reports, and doing paperwork.
After that, I worked as a technical project manager in an IT company for about six years. Personally supervised four teams and their work on software projects for cloud storage. I followed everything to go smoothly in terms of achieving business goals, meeting deadlines, and staying on budget.
In my free time, I study and read a lot about robotics and artificial intelligence. And since these are the areas that your company is engaged in, I decided that I definitely need to send you my resume.“
Example Answer #2
“I worked as an assistant to the financial director for almost two years. In my previous job in the finance department of company X, I was responsible for economic scheduling, business travel planning, and planning business meetings for three executives and 15 employees. Also, I helped in presentation preparation and organization and wrote the reports.
The boss considers me an organized and very responsible employee because I always meet deadlines and can solve several tasks at the same time.
Having enough work experience, I am looking for an opportunity to move on and try something new. And I would like to take the next step in my career in your company, the main direction of which is the improvement of the environment, which is exactly what I am passionate about and what I would like to do next. “
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