Answering the “tell me about yourself” question – get your interview off to a flyer

Many potentials employers will start an interview – typically the first – with the “tell me about yourself” question. Don’t let your chances of landing the job fall flat because of an arduous answer to this opening challenge.

The reason why your interviewer asks this is simple; it allows you to talk about something that you should be comfortable with therefore settling into the interview more easily. This question asks you to neatly package your career and also some highlights relevant to the job you’re being interviewed for.

  • Don’t fall into the trap many candidates across the world fall into; documenting their career history from school to most recent job in finite details taking 20 minutes to do so.
  • Similarly, don’t offer something so lightweight that it gives your interviewer(s) no clue as to who you are.

At MRK Associates, we are here to help you to start your interview in the right way. Here we provide a structure to this frequently answered question. It’s more likely than not that you will be asked this question.

– Highlight the key headlines of your experiences – recent 2-3 jobs, academics and interesting hobbies. Make yourself sound interesting.
– Mention any skills and strengths specific and relevant to the job you are being interviewed for
– Any award wins or personal achievements that are complementary?
– Don’t waffle on for too long about family or other irrelevant topics that will bore the interviewer

Your answer is about defining what you do, what you’ve achieved, what your passionate about and how you relate to the job and company you’re being interviewed for. Here’s some further advice to help you excel in this part of the interview:

Don’t dismiss this question

It’s more important than you may realise. As well as refreshing your memory on your career successes from you CV, if gives you a chance to talk about yourself and settle yourself into the interview before the more probing questions come along. The interviewer’s mind might be made up by the time you get to talking about your experiences, if you flunk – in the interviewer(s) mind – the ‘tell me about yourself’ question. Think about how you want to come across.

Not a template

Map out – using the above as a suggested template – the educational highlights, skills, experiences, outside interests and impression that you want to give the interviewer. Although your answer to this will be similar in most interviews, this is not a ‘one size fits all’ as you need to subtly adapt your response to each interview opportunity, company and advertised job. What is the company culture, what type of person do they want and what skills/ experiences are they most likely looking for?

Practice makes perfect

Finish your response a few days before the interview and recite it so it sounds seamless, but not arrogant, if/when you come to deliver. This is time well spent, even if the question isn’t asked, because it will help you for other questions that may come up. For instance, when the interviewer is probing you on specific experiences, you will have thought through your career already so should be able to pull on relevant information to highlight. By practicing, you will come across naturally, fluent in your successes and clear in how you want to develop in this position.

We’re here to develop your career and put you in front of employers who want to employ professionals just like you! Don’t forget to check out our Career Advice for further information about getting the job of your dreams!

Roland Seddon, Managing Director, MRK Associates.

MRK Associates is a recruitment and career advisory company specialising in three distinct areas of professional employment – finance/accountancy jobs, and revenue management/data analyst jobs. Our main geographical focus is in the Northern Home Counties area (Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire) where we provide a personal, knowledgeable and professional service within these markets.

For more information, please telephone 01442 894555 or email: info@mrkassociates.co.uk

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