“Can you tell me about yourself?”
My mother’s maiden name is Queen Elizabeth, I love beef, and I am left-handed…
And you expect to get the job?
Majority of job seekers get so nervous with the question “tell me about yourself”, and they end up rambling instead of slamming home their point.
As a novice, the “tell me about yourself” question is usually the first and the hardest to answer. But the post will make it as simple as ever. And you wonder why you never came across it before.
This post will help you understand the following;
- What the interviewer really means by “tell me about yourself”
- How to answer the “tell us about yourself interview question”
- Practical answers you can give, and why you should give them.
And if you decide to turn interviews you attend to a job offer, then you should read how to ace an interview
The tell me about yourself interview question is one question that comes first during an interview. You may wonder why several interviewers keep repeating it right?
The basic fact is that a lot of job seekers find it very difficult to provide satisfying answers to this interview question. This is because they have little or no idea of what the interviewer is asking about.
So what is the hiring manager trying to know when he says “Tell me about yourself?”
There are certain ways hiring managers can paraphrase the question and throw you off balance such as;
- Can I get to meet you?
- Describe yourself for me
- How would you want me to see you?
- Tell me something about you
- In few sentences, say something about yourself
Never mind about the complexity of the above questions, here are what the hiring manager is actually asking
Tell me your professional background
What value do you have?
What value have you added to yourself?
What are you bringing to the table?
What makes you outstanding?
Even if the hiring manager ends up not asking the question, it is important to prepare an answer to that interview question.
Top Ways to Fail the “Tell me about yourself Interview Question”
There are common mistakes that make graduates look unqualified for a job role in general. But in this case, failing to answer the tell me about yourself interview question properly will give you to start the interview not too good.
Reading the Resume
Candidates with no proper knowledge of how to answer the Tell me about yourself question ends up reciting their resume for the hiring manager. It can become very boring especially when the manager has already gone through your resume.
Even when the interviewer asks you to walk him through your resume or to describe your typical working day, it is necessary to keep the conversation engaging and not some recitation competition that bores the interviewer.
First Date Answer
Many recent graduates obviously think that the hiring manager is interested in their personal lives and hobbies. An interview isn’t a first date, so nobody cares what are your likes and dislikes.
In a job interview, you focus on your professional experience and values, unless you are asked by the interviewer what your hobbies and other related activities are.
Rambling all the way
I messed up the very first time I was asked such a question because I had no idea of what the interviewer meant by “Tell me about yourself”. My answer sounded like “My job experience – I had none then, or my schooling experience or what information are you actually asking about?
I have interviewed several smart graduates who bored me with so much information that I ended up not picking out any information specifically.
In most cases, candidates ask for clarification when asked the tell me about yourself interview question. Most likely, asking for much clarification makes you look confused. Dive in with the method I am about to teach you, and when they require extra information, they will make it clear to you.
Why do Hiring Managers ask the Tell Me About Yourself Interview Question?
To know if you fit in
This is the first signal every interviewer look out for when you are asked to say something about yourself.
Would it be nice when introducing a speaker for a seminar in sales, and the audience discovers that he/she has several years of experience in Engineering without sales experience? Would you listen to such a speaker as a sales man?
Then imagine you rambling about your hobbies and likes, when the HR wants to know the skills that would add value to his organization. If you don’t impress him with the skills and qualifications you have, the interview might be as short as ever.
Why you are interested in the position
If you were fired from your previous place of work, then you shouldn’t bring it up. You can just add that new challenges are what inspires you – but be careful not to look like a career harlot.
Steps to answer the let’s get to know you question
Create your Career Pitch
A career pitch is just like a sales pitch that helps a company describe a product, business, and highlights its value proposition. It answers the question “Why should I buy it?”
Since you want every hiring manager to buy the skills you have to offer, then you should write a pitch that would sell you ASAP.
The idea is to keep it short and simple. It should also be customized for different job roles – as the interviews roll in.
You might not be able to fill in all those great qualities in your resume, so spend time and think of how to write something mind-blowing.
A perfect career pitch that answers “tell me about yourself” would contain the following;
Who you are
This is more like knowing what your capabilities are. It isn’t about your name, date of birth or state of origin. It is about what you can do as related to your career path.
If you are a super salesman who can generate thousands of dollars for your firm by implementing your secret sales strategies, then you know.
Just make sure that wherever you find yourself, you can always answer the question “Who are you” in a professional setting.
Bad: My name is Mike Bush, I am from Delta state. I graduated from UNIBEN in 2016 from Electrical/Electronic department. I love reading books that are motivational, and I love taking challenges…
Don’t try the above in an interview…
Good: I am a professional salesman with about 5 years of sales experience penetrating several markets with products and have broken all existing sales records I ever met.
Highlighting your Expertise
You shouldn’t assume that the hiring manager has read through your CV, and knows what makes you unique. Use your well-crafted pitch to highlight the few points that make you stand out. That is the main reason the employer wants you to tell him about yourself.
Bad: “My first job was at Emma and sons limited where I worked as a cashier. From there I moved to GTBank where I joined their sales department. The target was much, so I decided to resign because we were not treated properly…”
Oh no! Nobody cares about how your former employer treated you. The question is “what do you have that the interviewer needs?”
Good: I have spent the last 3 years as a salesperson with Hitech Company, where we succeeded in penetrating the market with our product. I won the best salesperson for 3 months consecutively. I am skilled in prospecting and closing deals with ease.
Why you want to move
You should end your explanation of the can we meet you interview question by telling them you need the job and why you intend to leave your current job.
Bad: “I am not comfortable with my manager, and the way he handles issues. The company is having financial issues, and salaries are not even paid on time. That is the reason I decided to look for other opportunities that would favour me.”
Seriously? So when this organization starts having issues, you would still dump them and move on? Never come out as someone negative. Always say positive things about your past relationships with your ex-company.
Good: “I sincerely love my current job, but I believe I am now ripe for a new challenge, and this position seems perfect for it.”
The above statement is concise and oozes positivity.
Creating a strong first impression is critical when you are trying to answer the tell me about yourself interview question. Once you answer this interview question correctly, you stand the chance to create a long-lasting impression in the mind of the hiring manager.
Hint: Remember when questions start coming left, right, and centre, you should be happy that you are on the right track.
Are you ready to get the job?
This video will help you.
“Now tell me about yourself” using the comment section.
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