Interview Questions: Tell me about yourselfMonday, 3 April 2017
Tell me about yourself. How would you answer this ?
This is often one of the first question in an interview. It's there to get you talking because it's easy for you to answer, all you're doing is talking about yourself. So, why can this question be so stressful? The question is so open ended that it can be hard to know what information the interviewer is looking for. What you say can engage the interviewers that are present, or cause them to zone out. for this reason, it's important to show how suitable for the position you are, and not sell yourself short.
You may have heard of an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short summary used to provide information about something and get the listener interested. That's what you are doing here, trying to get the interviewer interested in you. To do this there are three pieces of information you should aim to communicate when answering this question. Your background, what you can do, and why you want this job?
It's important to make sure your answer is concise. It's easy to get carried away when answering this question in an attempt to be thorough, but interviewers are not interested in your life story. Try to keep your response short, only a couple of minutes at most. Remember this question is only the first of many. You can discuss things in greater detail later on, for now just summarise everything to get them interested.
It can be difficult to know what information the interviewer is really after, because the question is open ended. Do they want to know about the professional you, meaning your education, work history, and skills? Or, are they asking about your personality, what do you like, what don't you like? The answer is somewhere in between. They want to see some of your personality, but in how it relates to the job. You can find the skills that are important to the employer by reading through the job description.
Much of the information in your answer is probably going to come from your resume, but you need to make sure you aren't repeating your resume or cover letter, word for word. When talking about what you can do, it's no time to be modest. If you have the skills the interviewer is looking for, or skills that are relevant to the job, tell them.
Remember your brief background, your relevant skills, and why you want the job, should align with the company and show that you're suitable.
I grew up in Sydney. When I was young I wanted to be a policeman, but as I got older I became interested in computers. I did well throughout school and decided to further study IT. You could say I'm interested in all things technology, which is why I'm always reading Sci Fi books, which brings me to why I applied for this job.
I've worked a few different jobs in the last 10 years. My first job was working in a supermarket. I worked there for a couple years. Then I worked for a bank in customer service. I stayed in that position for 5 years before taking on a support role for the banks IT department. Due to problems at my last job, I had to leave. You offer a great pay rate and I need the money, so that's why I applied for the job.
I bring up a lot of information in this example, probably too much, and most of it isn't useful to the interviewer. By trying to cram too much into my brief summary, it has resulted in a poor and unfocused answer. Next I spoke about my work history. Instead of talking about what I've done recently, I started at the beginning, 10 years ago.
Finally, while my reason for wanting the job is honest, it's a bit too honest. By putting a negative spin on the answer and bringing up problems I said I had at my last job, the interview is now wondering if I was the cause of them. While the pay is great, bringing it up first thing in an interview makes it sound like that's all I'm here for.
I've worked in IT for the past 5 years, in both support and development roles, for the education industry. For the past 2 years I've been working for A+ Education setting up and maintaining their mobile device management system. I was responsible for the smooth transition of the company's 300 devices over to the new management system. I enjoyed that role, but I'm looking for a position with a stronger focus on onsite support, and I feel my strong communication and problem solving skills would be a great asset to your growing company's support team.
In contrast to the first example, this example is more focused. I've dived straight into what I've been doing in the past few years, there is not irrelevant information. I've then talked about an important task I was involved in and the outcome. Finally I've spoken about what I'm seeking, and why I think I would be a good fit for the company.
Show enthusiasm, show what you can do, and show why you're suitable. Keep these things in mind when you're answering this question and you're on your way to making a good impression.