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Tell me about yourself: How to answer

Yes, it’s the dreaded first interview question, the question that has you frantically searching in your memory banks and experiencing your professional life flash in front of your eyes: “Tell me about yourself”.

Surely it should be the easiest question you get asked in your interview, but sometimes, explaining yourself in a professional and interesting way can be as tricky as the rest. Even Therese Walsh, one of our Senior Recruiters in Allen Recruitment finds her heart racing at the sound of the question!

Not too worry – Therese is here to help us all lower our heart rate and optimize our answer to this question.

Like we mentioned before, when the question is first uttered your mind goes back in time, but perhaps telling your potential employer about your first day of school is a little too far back. Therese suggests a more recent chapter to begin with, “start with my most recent education, third level if you have it and work from there giving a brief overview of your roles, what your responsibilities were and how you moved from there.”

Vague answers are also a big no, don’t list 5 of the bullet points you looked over last night instead, “concise clear and structured responses are key.”

Therese said she can’t stress enough “Practice your answer!” An interview situation can be a stressful situation, that may make you forget the simplest of things. “Have your answers prepared – have your CV in front of you signposting your experience or if it’s a phone interview have cue cards with one or two sentences per role that you can quickly glance through to keep you on track.”

One things for sure, everyone loves talking about themselves, and perhaps when nerves are in the mix, rambling can happen. “I had some cornflakes for breakfast…….”

Seriously though, “if you find yourself on a tangent or if you find yourself getting too much into one company, focusing on your relationships with individuals you used to or still work with then that might be a bit too much and you must swiftly move on.”

After all that, it’s important to know why the question is asked and why it begins most interviews. Therese believes it is a vital question employers must ask. “The employer is qualifying your profile ensuring that there are synergies for the role you’re applying for as well as if you’re going to a be a fit for the team so no way around it I’m afraid.”

Perhaps a key difference to keep in mind the next time your asked “Tell me about yourself?”

Scenario 1, a social setting meeting new friends, it genuinely means tell me about you, your hobbies, interest and family.

Scenario 2, a job interview, the next time an employer asks you the question, remember, they are really asking “Tell how you can add value to my company?”


Posted in: Job Seeking Resources

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