Title Card - "Tell Me About Yourself"

“Tell Me About Yourself”

The question feels like a pretty straightforward one that appears on nearly every job interview. It might also feel pretty superfluous, seeing as you have already given them your resume. Many candidates often follow up this question with “well, what do you want to know?”

In actuality, the answer is still fairly straightforward, just not in the way most candidates think it might be. If you find yourself regurgitating what you’ve provided them on a resume, or provide little enough information that you’ve essentially not answered the question (ie: Hi, my name’s Dan, I am a writer and looking for a job in this field), your answer is far too shallow and requires some more thinking.

Consider what the employer would want to hear. If you’re applying to a job in digital advertising, are they going to care about your retail job you had six years ago? If your answer is yes, why? What skills did you learn in that job that are relevant to the one you’re interviewing for?

These are the sorts of things that you want to be pointing out to your potential employer: things that are not initially obvious but you believe are relevant to their decision making. I specifically highlighted the communications skills I used in a sales job when applying for an IT Service Desk position, especially because I didn’t want them to overlook an experience just because it said “jewellery” and not “IT”.

This is also one of the things that set me apart from the rest of the pack. In IT, communications skills are highly sought after. Most people focus on one or the other and don’t really have a good combination of both. These are the sorts of things that you should know ahead of time before going into an interview.

I also understand that finding these unique skills can be challenging when trying to figure them out for yourself. I know at least for me, it is much easier determining what other people are good at rather than trying to figure it out for myself. Ask the people around you who know you what they think you’re good at, and don’t discount anything. See if there are any repeats from person to person, and chances are you have a good, marketable skill you can use.

Armed with these skills, you now have some good content for the “tell me about yourself” question, but how do you best structure it?

As far as length goes, it should not be extensive or long-winded. Get to the point, keep it professional, and keep it relevant.

One format that I think works well is to move from your past and your experience, through the present with your current role and proudest accomplishments, and into the future with what you are looking to do next. In looking to the future, include how you feel your future includes the position you are applying for.

Remember too who you are talking to. If your interviewer is a human resources manager, they will likely not know much about your field of expertise and your answer should reflect that. Someone with more experience in your field may warrant a more detailed response.

It’s for this reason that you also should not have a standard answer for this question. I give you guidance, yes, but like I just mentioned, you may have to give modified answers depending on who you are speaking to, both in the person within the company and the company itself. Understand the structure, understand the reasons for why you structure your answer in the way you are structuring it, and use that knowledge to tailor your answer accordingly.

With practice, the answer will come naturally to you. The more interviews you complete, the easier it will become.