“Tell Us About Yourself” The Smartest way to answer this Interview Question

“Tell Us About Yourself” The Smartest way to answer this Interview Question

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Whether it’s a job interview, admission essay or meeting a potential mentor, ‘Tell us about yourself’ is one of the most commonly asked interview questions.

This question is not just an ice-breaker or asked to simply initiate a conversation. When answered smartly, it can help you create a good impression and have a smoother interview process ahead.

Some people freeze at the question. Others get carried away as they ramble on with their response. You want to be at the middle of both extremes where you are in control of what you say and how you say it. There are a million answers to this open-ended question, and most of them are wrong. So today, you will learn the smartest way to answer this all important interview question “Tell us about yourself?”

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Answer in 4 Easy Steps

When asked this question, most people usually answer in a certain way. For example, an IT professional will respond like this:

I’ve always been really interested in computers. I guess for the past nine years now I’ve been a programmer, but my passion for tech started way back when I was a kid. I’ve always loved playing around with code. For the past 4 years I’m trying to make a living off it.

This is the typical answer.  It’s nice, but it doesn’t speak from the perspective of the interviewer.

There’s a reason employers make you introduce yourself. And there’s a solid formula to give the perfect answer. Here are 4 easy steps to answer this question:

  1. Start with an important strength the hiring manager is eager to hear.
  2. Tell how that skill or quality helped your achieve great results.
  3. Give metrics to show the extent of your achievement.
  4. Tell how this new opportunity will help you grow your talents even more.

Here is an answer to illustrate this:

A: I really enjoy providing robust software solutions. I’ve led a software engineering team of 4 programmers to apply for an innovation challenge while in school. Our proudest moment was receiving the first runner-up award.  After that I worked for two years as a software developer at XYZTech. I slashed security breaches by 70%, a feature that helped the company secure its first 8 figure client. It’s been a great run, but I’m even more excited to be a part of a high-performing Developer Team like you have at ABCTech.

The difference is as clear as Night and day. This answer speaks to what the interviewer is interested in. It follows the four steps of:

  1. Starting with an important strength the hiring manager is eager to hear.
  2. Telling your accomplishments using that skill or quality.
  3. Giving metrics to show the extent of your achievement.
  4. Telling how this new opportunity will help you grow your talents even more.

Use the Right Achievements for the Best Answers

Now you get that you have to start with an important strength the hiring manage is eager for. You also know that the best “tell me about yourself” answers include achievements from a recent or past role.

But how to you pick the right achievements, that fit the job? The easiest way to pick the perfect achievement to mention for a job is to read the job offer carefully to understand what the employer is looking for. Highlight the required skill set in it. Then pick the most important for your interview answer.

If you cannot find enough information in the job advert, reach out to employees on LinkedIn, research the company online or read the company website. That’ll give you enough knowledge to nail the question. Whatever achievement you pick, tailor it to fit the job. The closer your achievement to the job skills, the likelier it is that you’ll get hired.

What If You Don’t Have Previous Work Experience?

What if you are just fresh out of school, with little to no work experience? How do you talk about your achievement?

In that case, talk about your volunteer and internship work experience. Talk about how you taught yourself to use software tools and how you used it to become 50 percent more productive. Talk about involvements where you showed your leadership skills, over achieved the targets, came up with innovative solutions or anything that hints you will be a great candidate for the new job. Mention your achievements that demonstrate good work ethics or job requirements like ‘attention to details’.

Whatever you do, don’t go telling you family history or life story. Keep the answer brief and avoid talking about personal stuff including religious or political views, marital status and family members. The interviewer is not curious to know your life story. And ideally, this answer should not be more than a minute long.

Some things including your salary expectations, expectations from this role, management can be kept for later part of the discussion.

In Summary

When next you are asked the universal, “Tell us about yourself” question. Start with an important fact about yourself. Talk about your most recent role, a past role, and why you’re excited for this opportunity. Mention achievements that will show the hiring manager you’re effective. Learn the job needs by reading the offer carefully and researching the company. Rehearse your answer before the interview day. It will give you more clarity, and you will look confident in front of the interviewer.

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Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!



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About Post Author

Professor Cram

Professor Lawrence Cram is a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University working in the Department of Applied Mathematics. His interests include astronomy, mathematics, engineering, computing, and physics. Due to his extensive expertise, professor Cram has worked as a Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney and as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at ANU during 2004-2012. In 2013, he retired as a Master, University House and Graduate House. In January 2014, he was appointed as an acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Charles Darwin University. Professor Cram is also a Fellow at the Royal Astronomical Society and the Australian Institute of Physics.
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