The tell me about yourself question is almost inevitable in any job interview. However, candidates must not confuse the question as an invitation to talk about themselves on a personal level, but rather about their compatibility for the job.
Similar to the “why should we hire you” question, you should look to reply with an answer that directly puts your abilities to get the job in a good light.
A good approach to this question would be to intimate to your potential employers how your previous work experience, previous accomplishments and any other skills that make you the ideal candidate for the job.
Ideally, you should spend around a minute answering this question, while you do not want to be too brief about it, you also do not want to go into too many details at this stage.
Do not be shy to ask for a clarification
Just to be sure that you do not ramble on about an unnecessary point, you can nicely ask for further clarification from the interviewer.
“I would be pleased to. Can you tell me precisely what kind of information you might be interested in?”
Again, this is a great way to be more clear and conversational with your answer.
What to not say
Simply talking about yourself without any reference to the job might give your interviewers the impression that you are either naïve, under-qualified for the job or unprepared for the interview. Remember this is a job interview and not a blind date.
How to properly answer the question
Remember, however you choose to answer this question, you should build it around the position you are vying for and not about you or your personal life. While it is not a taboo to talk about yourself in an interview, you should not misunderstand this question as one of those “what are your hobbies” interview questions.
You may also give your answer in two parts;
- How/Why you are qualified
Give reasons why you should be considered for the role. Try to avoid repeating what you already have on your resume. On the other hand, try and shed light on the qualifications that you have that are most related to the job.
- Your reason for applying
Try as much as possible to give career-related answers like ‘I decided to apply for this job because I believe my skill will be optimally utilised working for a firm like yours.” Do not give reasons like you want to be closer to your spouse or that your former boss was demanding too much from you.
Tread carefully when you answer the popular tell me about yourself question.
Consider following the tip given above for your next interview!