So tell me about yourself

With an increase in employment levels and record numbers of people applying for jobs now is the perfect time to hone your interview skills.  In this, the first of our insight guides on interview tips, we’ll tell you how to answer the common question of ‘tell me about yourself’.

Those fateful words come up in the majority of job interviews; they’re an opportunity for you to really get your personality across while showing you’re the right person for the job – so why do so many interviewees stumble at this question?

Firstly, don’t panic when you hear these words. The interviewer isn’t looking for a way to trip you up, rather, this question is usually used to get the conversation going. It’s a chance for you to talk naturally without having to worry if you’re giving the right or wrong answer, and for the interviewer to jump in and delve deeper on relevant information.  This is your chance to make a great first impression – and one that leads to a job offer, so answering this question well can genuinely make or break your chances of success.

Preparation is key

Before the interview take the time to jot down a list of bullet points about yourself and your attributes. Think about your personality, and which of your experiences and skills (both in and outside of work) would benefit you in this job. Using bullets will help you to remember different key points that you can then expand on during the interview.  You’ll want to sound natural and talk spontaneously, rather than trying to memorise a script.  Follow our 3 stages below and make bullet points for each stage.

Who you are

Start with a succinct summary of your current role and an overview of your most relevant skills and experiences. Remember, your interviewer has read your CV so already knows your full employment history, they don’t need a longwinded account of your whole life.  Use this opportunity to grab their attention by summarising your key strengths in just a couple of minutes.

Why you’re the right person for the job

Next, briefly outline why you’re qualified for the job. Think about your key accomplishments that would suit this particular role, for example how long you have worked in the sector, particular experiences and achievements or successful projects you’ve been involved with. Be sure to tell them your accomplishments and competencies that are relevant for the role.

Why you applied

Wrap it up in a concise and confident way by letting the interviewer know how enthusiastic you are. Talk about why you’re there, eg because you’re looking for a new challenge and you want to step up your career. Ideally make it relevant for the job in hand and show you’ve researched the company.

Once you’ve made the bullet points for each of the 3 sections above, practise speaking aloud at home until you have a pitch for yourself that sounds natural yet confident and reflects your personality.