The most terrifying question you are likely to be asked in an interview is the deeply personal, open-ended "tell me about yourself".
This is where you put everything on the line and you share who you believe yourself to be and literally be judged for it. At least that's what our mind starts screaming in that moment.
Let's take a moment to prepare, then.
How do you answer the question "tell me about yourself"?
Is there a right answer? More importantly, is there a wrong answer? Let’s explore how to answer "tell me about yourself" in an interview.
Why do people ask the “tell us about yourself” question?
This is often the question we are asking ourselves in response. Why does the interviewer need to ask me this?
It's really simple and all we have to do is put ourselves in the interviewer's shoes. By asking an open-ended question, the interviewer is able to gain an understanding of who you are as a person, which is important when deciding if you are the right candidate for the job.
Ideally, they want to gain insight into how you see yourself and the value you place on your own experiences.
This is the first step in deciding whether you are fit for the position and whether they feel comfortable with putting you up to the task.
How to answer “tell me about yourself”
The next question that goes through our head, what does the interviewer want to hear?
Let's look on through the perspective of the interviewer - they need to make a decision and they want to make it fast and easy.
They want to hear how your experiences fit with the role and how confident you are in talking about those experiences.
Furthermore, they want to understand why you decided to apply and show up for the interview in the first place.
You need to give good reasons as to why you reached out to them and what they mean for your career just as you are selling yourself on what you will mean to them once hired.
Avoid doing this at all costs
The worst mistake you can make when deciding how to answer "tell me about yourself", is to over inflate your abilities, knowledge or skill.
Bragging or coming off as cocky can be just as damaging as falling short and understating your own self-worth.
Act natural, be yourself and feel as though you have just met a new friend and you are excited to share the best parts of your life experiences, schooling and career with.
Don't try and impress the interviewer, by being yourself and oozing with an inner sense of confidence and calm, the interviewer will feel much more comfortable listening to you.
What to say in response to “tell us something about you”
Now that we understand why this happens, what the interviewer is looking for and what not to do, let's take a look at how to ace this question.
First, you need to do a little preparation. Take a notebook and write down all your strengths and skills learnt in school and at work.
Now connect these strengths and skills with actual experiences where you have demonstrated them.
From there, take down several responsibilities you will have in the future role. Connect those experiences and strengths with the responsibilities required by the company and explain how these connections will benefit the employer.
An example answer to “tell me about yourself”
When the interview question “tell us about yourself” comes up, consider the position you are interviewing for and the roles and responsibilities that will be involved.
Let's say you are interviewing for a job as a property manager.
For this kind of position, you would need to be good with people, have great time management skills, be comfortable with admin work and proactive when seeking new tenants for your clients.
Now think back to where these skills might have developed in your school life, at home and especially in the workplace.
You could say "I went to school at ______ and living half an hour from my university, I developed well rounded time management skills to ensure I was never late to class or an exam.
I also share a house with 3 other students and I am tasked with managing the cleaning schedule and rent payments for my housemates and I strengthened my people management skills when diffusing any conflicts that came up."
Nail this question every single time
The best way to overcome your fear of the question tell me about yourself is to face it head-on.
Practice by writing a script and understand why this question is asked.
Work on how you can use something about you and your personal life experiences and skills to relate back to the position with the company and always deliver your answer calmly, confidently and truthfully.
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