A question like “tell me about yourself “may be used at the beginning of an interview to open up dialogue. Someone may also ask you to review your resume with them or to talk about what is not on your resume to try to get to know you.
Open-ended questions like these are likely to be asked through the entire interview process. It can be hard to answer questions with so much ambiguity as you may not know how you should respond. Its best to use these questions as an opportunity to bring something extra to the interview.
This article will provide tips on how to structure your response and what to avoid. You will also find some specific examples to answer the question “tell me about yourself?”.
What employers are really asking when they say, “tell me about yourself?”
Questions such as these are common at the start of an interview, as they are used to prompt you to start the conversation. This is the interviewer’s way of determining what you believe are your most valuable skills that apply to that position.
Potential employers are also aware that this can be a difficult question to answer and can put a moderate amount of pressure on their interviewee. if you are able to answer this question impressively, you can show that you are confident and are good at thinking on your feet.
Beginning an interview with a question like “tell me about yourself” could Segway into a casual interview, where the employer wants to get to know you, or it could lead to a more professional toned interview as well.
How to plan your answer
It can be hard to craft a good response for even a simple interview question. To help guide you, here are a few questions to ask as you brainstorm to formulate your response:
1. What makes you a good fit for this position?
Think about your strongest skills that apply to the role you are interviewing for. Maybe, you have many years of experience in the field, or specialized training for any aspect of the job but be sure to review the job description carefully and note where your skills are most relevant.
2. Why do you want this job?
Think about what most excites you about this new position. How will it fit into your career goals? Why are you going after this job now? What is it about that particular company or industry that made you apply in the first place?
3. What is most interesting to you about that career?
Once you have done your research on the company and their work, you will know more about their mission, goals and overall scope. Next, decide if this aligns with your personal professional goals. What do you respect most about the company and what excites you about the growth of the industry? As you answer these questions begin building your story of how these tie into your goals.
4. Define your best qualities pertaining to this job
If you have been known to be exceptionally curious, generous, or organized by friends or past coworkers, use these observations to build upon. Also, think about the traits you observe most in yourself and think of specific instances where you have embodied these characteristics.
5. Do you have any unique experiences that would make you stand out?
Remember that a question asking you to speak about yourself is a common interview question. Because of this, interviewers will have heard many answers. Using a unique trait or fact about yourself will help you stand out from the crowd. As an example, sharing that you began building computers at age 10 when applying for a programming role is not only relevant, but will help you make a mark on the interviewer.
What will your answer be to the question “tell me about yourself?”
Having a strong answer for this question will set the tone for the duration of the interview. You will want to make sure your answer is impactful, but not too long. To help accomplish this, include the following in your response:
1. Use real life examples to highlight your skills.
Use the job description and take note of the preferred skills section. Think of recent scenarios in your professional life where you have implemented these skills. It's best if these stories are recent and took place in a work setting. However, if you have relevant volunteer experience don't be afraid to include that as well.
2. What does your current position have to offer?
If you are coming from a more senior leadership role, you can emphasize your management skills and ability to take on more responsibility. If your move is lateral and requires different skills, explain how your current skills overlap and will be useful in the new position.
3. Talk about your personality is an icebreaker
It's OK to answer the question “Tell me about yourself” with some information about your personality, this interview question is meant to be used to get to know you. However, you don't have to talk about personal details. Feel free to discuss any interesting hobbies that show your engagement in your community or commitment to personal development, like any volunteer work or clubs you might belong to like a book club. If you have received any accolades or other achievements outside of work like running a half marathon, now is your time to bring that up briefly as well. Be sure to maintain a professional tone as you talk about your personal interests.
5. Make sure your answer is clear and concise.
To make sure your answer is understandable and not rambling it may help to use one of these formulas, where your points are organized based on a timeline. For example, talk about your interests, achievements, and goals in this order: Present, past, future or past, present, future.
Choose the order of events that best conveys your knowledge of the field. If your most recent position is the most similar and relevant to the one you are interviewing for talk about that one first and work your way through. However, if you are transitioning your career talk about past experiences that can relate first to show your knowledge of the industry.
Some examples of how to answer the question “tell me about yourself?”
It can be extremely helpful to read a set of examples to get a sense of how to formulate your own answer. You will want to remain unique in your answer, but the following examples are effective way to highlight a person's strength supported by examples, while keeping the length under two minutes.
“My career began as a retail manager however in 2018 I began the journey into health care. I have always enjoyed helping bring people together and work towards common goals. Due to my experience managing stores and working with teams of people, I considered healthcare administration my main career goal and I've been working In the field for the last three years.”
“I focused on efficiency in the office in my current role especially pertaining to patient outcomes. Right now, I oversee goals relating to the department's budget and patient volume. I was able to work with the IT department to begin a new communication system last year, which streamlined scheduling procedures and protocols. Because of this new system we increased efficiency by 20%.”
“I prioritize holding regular meetings with the administrative staff as well as the doctors and nurses to stay informed. It has also been my responsibility to manage and maintain advertising efforts for the center. I really enjoyed that aspect and I am looking forward to furthering my skills with this company. When I'm not in the office I love to read and am an avid hiker. Most weekends you can find me on the trail or at my favorite local bookstore.”
“I've always loved art and design ever since I was a kid. I was lucky enough to help my parents remodel their house when I was in high school as they allowed me to have input on the interior design plans. That's when I decided to pursue interior design as a career in college.”
“Since receiving my education I've been working for a design firm here in the city where I have built my portfolio that includes commercial and residential spaces. I strive to include innovative technology in my design. This has fostered my relationship with local suppliers. I have been rewarded with the experience of working on historical spaces which has taught me a lot about building preservation techniques.
it's a goal of mine to work in a design firm that focuses on the preservation of historical buildings. I'm looking forward to using my experience and passion regarding building restoration at your firm.”
“My current position at ABC restaurants is as a hostess where I've been for over two years. I enjoy the energetic environment where I juggle a multitude of tasks including seating customers, estimating wait times, helping with to go orders, as well as answering phones and making reservations. I thrive in the busy environment, and I’m able to keep my cool as we often have wait times of an hour or more on the weekends.”
“Previous to the restaurant industry, I worked as a retail associate for just over a year. This position taught me customer service skills and teamwork.”
“I'm ready for the next step in my career where I want to build on my problem solving skills and customer service skills in the restaurant environment. I am drawn to this restaurant specifically because of the reputation of having excellent service and a lively environment.”
When it comes down to it the question, “tell me about yourself” should be answered with what you want the employer to know about you the most. An effective answer to this question will create a strong first impression that will carry throughout the interviewing process.
Here are a list of do's and don'ts when answering the question.
Do not talk about religion, politics, or other personal information like relationship status. These subjects are too personal to be discussed in a workplace it may work against you.
Don't be vague when talking about your strengths. Instead, choose a few to highlight and give examples of when you implemented these virtues. This will be better than having a long list of attributes with nothing to back it up.
Do your best to stay conversational and natural. A memorized monologue will come across too stiff and awkward.
Don't reiterate your resume word for word. Again, stick to focusing on your strengths.
Don't rush the conversation into how the company can benefit you or what you're looking for in the role. This topic is more appropriate discussed in the later part of the interview if you are more certain you will be offered the position.
Do use real life examples that have happened recently in a professional setting.
Do keep your response concise and to the point, remaining under two minutes.
Do talk about your unique qualities the other candidates may not have.
Do talk about past successes and accomplishments
Do mention your relevant work experience, and how your current position has taught you skills for your next position.
Do take the time to highlight your personality. You could tell a short appropriate joke or mention a few things to help describe who you are.
Do directly reference the job description and how you fit the role.
Do briefly explain your hobbies and interests. This will help you seem interesting and well rounded
It's always a good idea to have a few good answers planned out for some of the more difficult interview questions. Especially something as broad and open ended as “tell me about yourself?” This way when you are faced with them in real life situations, you will have a concise and meaningful answer and you will not be thrown off guard. Even if you aren't on the job hunt, thinking about how to answer these questions can give you a leg up in every personal interaction.
The Careerbliss Team
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