You have spent endless nights slaving away at your desk trying your utmost to cover every possible question the company could throw your way. Your interview day approaches you by what can only be described as sheer luck catch the early train, your mood is a solid 10/10 by this point, notes in hand and a coffee carefully balanced on your briefcase, you finally reach your destination. You enter the majestic doors of the head office and walk to the reception greeted with a welcoming smile. The receptionist takes you to the interview room and you take a seat itching to get started. Your interview slot was at 09:30am, it is now 10:00am, you draw your gaze towards your watch and sigh softly, ‘at least you weren’t late’. The interviewer, who could only be described as well-groomed and incredibly confident approaches the doorway and summons you in, well this is it!
As the interview commences, you find yourself equally confident in your responses and provide well thought out answers to each question the interviewer asks, it all seems to be going so well, too well in fact. Until the interviewer asks you a question you find yourself completely stuck on, “tell me about yourself?”. This is about you.. arguably the simplest and easiest question out there, you sit there puzzled for a moment, trying to hold it together.
The classic “tell me about yourself?” question. Sure, on paper it sounds simple, after all you know yourself better than anyone else right? But where do you start? Your background? Hobbies? Keep it light-hearted or stick to your CV and keep it professional? Take a deep breath and relax, so many people struggle with the same question and here are our tips on how to overcome this kind of scenario.
Firstly, ask yourself why would the interviewer need this information and why are they so interested to know? Before you begin to dissect this, the interviewer does not want your life story – short, sharp and informative are the key words here. See this question as an ice- breaker, it is solely there to ease both you and the interviewer into the actual interview and to get a brief, yet adequate representation and depiction of you as a person. This might seem like an unnecessary question, but the employer is giving you the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
If you nail this part, it will give you the self-assurance to project yourself in the same manner for the rest of the interview. Answer it wrong however and it can have detrimental effects. For starters, it can make the interviewer inclined to view you as the ‘Ok Candidate’. Or in other words, the sort of candidate that is easily overlooked. So, by this point you are probably asking yourself what a good answer looks like? Well its actually not as difficult as you may think. First and foremost, it should be tailored. Although, technically the answer is about you, it should be tailored around the job at hand. It should be based around your personal experience and achievements, as such you should mention your background (what did you study?), your achievements (how do you stand out from other candidates) and also your interests (why are you applying for this specific job?) and lastly, structured! Your answer should have a simplistic format, a great one to adopt is the Past-Present-Future format. Meaning your answer should uncover the past – so your background and relevant work experience, it should then focus on the present – so your current role, what you do and your accomplishments at the establishment and lastly, the future – so what you are looking to do next and why are you interested in this position.
A quick and fiery breakdown of how to answer the “tell me about yourself?” question. Remember to keep it simple and straight-forward. The interviewer is not there to catch you out, they simply want a bigger and better picture of you as a person, where you were, what you’re doing now and where you want to be. See it like that and you’re sure to walk into that interview with nothing short of confidence in your own abilities.