15 June 2022

So Tell Us About Yourself

‘So tell me about yourself’ – the single most dreaded interview question.

You sit down in the stiff chair across the table from your interviewer. You feel good about yourself. You are wearing your most professional outfit, not a hair out of place, you feel confident and prepared albeit a bit nervous. And then the first question they hit you with is ‘So tell me about yourself’. You sit there and for a good minute try to remember your own name while also trying to figure out what exactly it is the interviewer wants to know. You start to stutter, your palms get clammy, and you panic. Sounds familiar?

Having recently landed a new job (yay me!) I think I have managed to nail down to a T the formula for what hiring managers want to hear when they ask you that question.

So let me help you out and spill the tea on what it is you should actually say.

First things first. I think it goes without saying that when an interviewer asks you that question, they are not expecting your life story. They don’t care about how many siblings you’ve got, they don’t care that you have a dog that just turned 7, or that you like to play Animal Crossing in your free time. What the hiring managers is actually interested in finding out is what are you bringing to the table. So next time you hear the question ‘tell me about yourself’ make the mental switch to ‘what value are you brining to the company’.

Any answer you give, any statement you make should always link back to what's in it for them. For example, let's imagine you are interviewing for a job as a social media manager. The wrong answer to the question 'tell me about yourself' could sound a little something like this:

'Well, my name is Jess and I'm 33. I live in London and I love watching movies in my spare time. I love social media and marketing. I am on Facebook and Twitter all the time. I love TikTok and have 750 Instagram followers. I have always been into creating content for myself so I thought why not make a job out of it. I used to work for a small company as a social media manager and I really enjoyed it'

This is a shitty answer, yet an answer any unprepared person will most likely give. To answer the question properly. Think about the following statements you should include in your response:

  • My background is...
  • I specialise in...
  • My strength is...
  • What I am looking for is...

Now let's compose an answer with the above statements.

'I am Jess and I am a Social Media manager. My background is in marketing and I specialise in creating compelling content for a variety of small and large clients. In my previous role I have been supporting both the sales and PR teams by creating promotional content for each individual platform. My strength is engaging with audiences and building a brand presence that resonates with customers. What I am looking for now is a company where I can add value, somewhere where I can grow and solve problems using my social media skills.'

You see the difference? The first answer is just blah. It's boring, it's a vague, it doesn't sell you.

The second one however talks about your skills and experiences, highlights your strengths and informs them of your achievements.

And that is it really. It's quite simple, isn’t it. Whatever job you are interviewing for, you can always use the template of My background is..., I specialise in..., My strength is... and What I am looking for is... to build a response that creates an amazing first impression of you as a candidate.

After all we never get a second chance at making a first impression so make this one count.

So next time you prepare for an interview, use this framework to build the best response possible. Then learn it, practice it, rehearse it. This should be something you feel comfortable saying and trust me, if you get this right you will feel like you've already nailed the interview so you will ooze confidence for the rest of the chat.

Now go out there and land your dream job! You've got this.

Background pattern