Interview Q & A

Q. Tell Me About Yourself ..

Having attended interviews and listened to candidates responses over time, we have taken some of the best replies and responses to this question and constructed a script and answer template to help you to answer the question.

It will help you to know what you need to say and how to say it so you do not feel nervous, are prepared and you can do as well as you can during the interview.

First let us look at some important key points to consider:

1. When the hiring manager is asking you the question “tell me about yourself,” they are not actually asking you to tell them about your whole life story.

They are not asking about your family, parents, your background or what kind of pet you have.

The answer to this question is not about that, it is often mistaken for that and so when people hear that question they spend most of the allotted time for questions talking about things which are not so important.

What they’re actually asking is:

  • What will your value be as an employee?
  • What are you bringing to the team or company if we hire you?

It is important therefore to make a mental switch, to think and answer more about these points than to speak about yourself and every step you made in your career choices.

2 Be yourself, no guessing the right or expected answer, simply be your best self.

Many people make mistakes and many believe in the interview, “I just want to be me.” It is alright to make mistakes at interview as long as you are your best self, you come across as authentic, you do not come across as fake.

It does not mean you have to be like an open book and share everything. Think of it as a first date, this is the first time you are both meeting each other, you are just getting to know each other.

So make sure that you present your best self, think about being in their shoes, what is in it for them?

A quick explanation:

Let’s say someone is hiring and you’re applying for a marketing manager position. The hiring manager asks you “please, tell me a little about yourself.”

A typical response would be:

“well, I studied business at college, I grew up using social media a lot and am really familiar with it, so I thought I could actually make a living from it as a consultant for hire. I got a number of clients in the past three years and today I am in a relationship where we plan to move in together. My partner, he asked, no he told me, I should get a stable income and a proper job that offers training and good potential. That is why I am here and applying for this position. Your office is also very convenient to home and it would not take me long to commute every day.”

Think for one moment if you were the hiring manager, what would you be thinking?

The statement you listened to as a response to “tell me about yourself” opened up a potential life-story of a response, me this, me that and I am only here because I was told to be here.

It may not get a positive appreciation 

Hence the need to turn it into a benefit to the hiring manager, a response could have followed the three S’s for success (borrowing the five S`s from lean adapting the STAR interview model for ourselves).

A. "Tell Me About Yourself" Answer Template Using The 3 S`s

Looking at the same role as a marketing manager that you’re applying for, if we look for the three S`s for success:

S1: I have been doing social media for the last three years and I specialise in helping small business owners to grow their Facebook and LinkedIn pages. In the last 2 years I helped support over forty clients in different industries to build up their post engagement, webinar event attendances and newsletter sign-ups for new and existing offers or services. One client now has 100 people attending their webinars and I did that from a concept start less than five months ago. I made a list of some of the clients and the projects I worked on, three are happy to be called as references.

In one short statement you have explained your potential value, showcased your skills and highlighted them without bragging about them.

Now it is time to take a breath, not seek to ask any questions just yet. You have to move onto S2, your strengths.

S2: In fact, try to be specific and keep it to one, “my strength is …….” or “my real strength is ……” to keep it simple and short.

Here if we use the same example, the statement could simply be “my strength is understanding from a list of needs what the audience is looking for and the message they would like to read.

It is a simple one liner type statement and you can then build on it by adding the third S, the context or situation. It is very easy to make a bold statement and turn it into a sales pitch about you, a reason for using a framework like the 3 S`s to build more meaningful answer.

S3: Situation, how does it apply to you, the role you are applying for and relate to your background and strength?

You lead “ What I am looking for is ………….,”

What I’m looking for is a company that I could add value to, that I could produce a positive return on marketing spend for and where I can be an influential voice on projects.

Is this what …..…. name of company or you are looking for?

You have taken control of a moment in the interview and asked the question to the hiring manager, who may be taken aback because no-one else asked him a question like this before today.

The hiring manager may respond:

“yes that is what we are looking for” or may not.

If not, do not worry, they will outline the person for the role they are looking for and then ask related questions for you to answer.

The 3S`s are a starting point, they help you to sell yourself in a good way.

Do you have to write your own 3S style “tell me about yourself?” Do you have to practice speaking it?

We would suggest you could start using the above example as a template, write it out in your own words and vocabulary style, speak to the mirror or record yourself saying it.

Do not be afraid, we do know of one candidate who sang it in the shower, no-one knows who heard him and he did not care either. It was his space to practice.

The more you say it, the better you get to know it and then you will have a small script which are your words, you own it and when they are spoken, it sounds just like you!

Then after a number of rehearsals, when you are in front of that potential hiring manager, you will be ready to go.

You will come across in a natural way and avoid the “blank face” of a rabbit frozen in the headlights of a car, appearing to be in a mild panic as you take time to think of a response or what to say next.

A. "Tell Me About Yourself" FAQ

When do you get asked “Tell me about yourself” at interview”

You are normally asked this question early on in an interview. Interviewers sometimes start their interview after the introductory hello with the request as both an icebreaker question and to allow you to summarise your work experience and personal interests or values.  

Why does an interviewer ask “Tell me about yourself”

The question is asked because it has been proven to be a good way for hiring managers to get a first impression of a candidate because most will make up their mind and decide if you are a suitable candidate to progress in the hiring process or to receive a job offer in the first three to five minutes of an interview.

Why do I feel nervous when an interviewer asks me “Tell me about yourself”

Many people find it difficult to speak about themselves and worry that in an interview, they will give the wrong answer or even no answer. Confidence is a big part of preparedness, preparing a response and practising it before the interview will help you to appear calm, decisive and more confident.