3 steps on how to answer ‘Tell me about yourself’ in an interview

Careers Avenue providing steps on how to answer interview question 'tell me about yourself'. Get this question right and boost your career with the job of your dreams

Every interview has the dreaded ‘Tell me about yourself’ question, however if you prepare yourself you can answer this question to your strengths. There is no wrong or right answer to the question however employers want to hear your story on your professional background. They do not want to hear about what you did back in year 9 at school!

Firstly, congratulations on securing an interview, you would have been selected from possibly over hundreds of applications so they must have liked the content in your CV. First impressions count so the next step is to convince the employer that what you have written in your CV is demonstrated in your interview. You can get most of this across when they ask the question ‘Tell me about yourself’.

Employers ask the question to break the ice and go into interview mode.

Highlight the key skills in the job description and then go through your CV highlighting where you have used those skills and then prepare a script to answer the question ‘Tell me about yourself’. The script should be broken down to cover 3 steps – present, past, future. When you break it down to 3 steps, the question becomes easier to answer.

There are examples below of what to include in a script and practice talking about your Present, Past and Future with a family member or friend. Do not sound robotic when answering the question in an interview, you will want to sound natural and talk passionately about yourself.

Stick around to the end for a bonus tip on what to include in your answer.

OK, let’s get stuck in, here are the 3 steps to answering the question ‘Tell me about yourself’ in an interview.

Present

Talk about your present role include the employer, job title, responsibilities and achievements. You want to provide a snapshot of your experience so no need to recite everything that is written in your CV as they can ask questions after. Talk passionately and use this opportunity to talk about your achievements like cost savings or revenue generated etc. If you were a Recruitment Consultant, you would use an example like the one below;

I am currently working for XXX company as a Recruitment Consultant, managing a portfolio of clients, delivering temporary and permanent candidates within the technology sector. I started with zero clients and now have 10 clients generating over £XXX a year. I was instrumental to our business development initiative by implementing strategies to increase revenue by incorporating networking, marketing and events to our sales targets.

The example above clearly demonstrates the employer, job title, responsibilities and achievements. Employers like to hear when you go above and beyond within your role so talk about being part of community groups or initiatives you got involved in that had an impact on your role. Community groups or initiatives could be inside or outside the workplace.

Past

Talk about previous roles where the skills you are interviewing for will be required. Again, mention employer name, job title, responsibilities and achievements. If you were a Recruitment Consultant, you would use an example like the one below;

I previously worked for XXX company as a Recruitment Delivery Consultant, my role was to find suitable permanent candidates for our clients within the finance sector. I was targeted on placing 4 candidate per month and averaged 6 placements across the duration of my time. I was also pivotal to the success of the implementation of a new CRM database which has seen us save over £5000 from not using other job sites.

The example above clearly demonstrates the employer, job title, responsibility and achievements.

Again, talk passionately about your previous employers, this shows integrity and loyalty which are traits every employer wants to hear from a prospective employee.  

Careers Avenue blog post on how to answer interview question 'tell me about yourself'. Boost your career today and find out what to do in an interview.

Future

Explain your goals and where you want to be in a few years, make them achievable. Employers will have potential opportunities for individuals to progress so let them know you want to progress. If you were a Recruitment Consultant, you would use an example like the one below;

I understand from the job description you are looking for a Recruitment Consultant to achieve X revenue within 2 years and then move into a team leader role. In my current role, I am on my way to achieving X revenue and assist the current team leader with mentoring the team in their absence. My ambition is to manage individuals to teach them what I know and motivate them to get the best results. I have started an online course on ‘Managing People in the Workplace’ which I feel will help me settle into a team leading role once I have achieved X revenue within 2 years.

The example above clearly demonstrates the ambition of the individual however highlighting they know what they need to achieve to get there. The individual has also started educating themselves in the field of management further highlighting they are taking actions on their ambitions.

Bonus tips

Values

Read about the company values and describe how they fit in with your values. For example, if you are interviewing at Google one of their core values is ‘Technology innovation is our lifeblood’, so talk about the impact technology has had on you and how it excites you to be part of technology for the future. Show passion and integrity! An example of this below;

Having read your values, I was thrilled to see we shared the same values especially ‘Technology innovation is our lifeblood’ as in my current role I am part of a committee to ensure best practice on technology within the workplace. I enjoy testing new technology and speaking to technology partners on how technology can improve the way we work not just within the workplace but at home also.

The example above clearly demonstrates the individual has read the company values and has aligned their own values to demonstrate they would be a good fit for the company.

Conclusion

Do not feel overwhelmed with the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question as the key to answering the question is preparing your answer and then passionately talking about yourself. Once you have broken down the question into Present, Past and Future the question is a lot easier to answer and will take you around 90 seconds. Just remember to smile!

Comment below and let us know how you get on..

Author: Kaan Azmi

I have worked in the recruitment industry for over 20 years and have placed thousands of candidates in to their dream careers. I have always enjoyed passing my knowledge onto candidates to progress their careers. I provide information around CV and Coversheet writing, job search tips, interview techniques, salary negotiation, resignation letters, entrepreneurship, networking, first time jobber, graduate assessments, recruiter relationships, linkedin strategy, hiring, leadership & management, career fit, career change, career development, career goals, income & money. There are testimonials on the website and on my LinkedIn profile, please go and see the impact I have made on people's careers. My background has seen me start as a Resourcer which is where I learnt how to find candidates on job sites so I have a keen eye for a keyword in a CV. I then went onto become a Recruitment Consultant where I would engage with clients to understand their needs and deliver passive talent pools. I ended up managing teams of up to 30 individuals ensuring they achieved personal and company targets. I engage regularly on social media channels answering career based questions, feel free to look me up and connect! I am a family man, husband to Beks and father to my 3 boys. Well, 4 boys if you include Picasso our dog! Since I was a boy I have supported Liverpool FC, some would say I was a glory supporter however I started supporting them when they were not winning trophies and stuck with them through dark times. On wards and upwards and Liverpool FC are now achieving trophies on a regular basis. My aim is to help individual's with any aspect of their career, so please get in touch for more information on careers.

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