The killer interview question: Tell me about yourself

Ange Connor

It’s the interview question every interviewee under estimates. How hard can it really be to tell the interviewer about yourself? You know the answer, right? Everyone can talk about themselves can’t they? Wrong!

In my experience, the open ended “Tell me about yourself” interview question is one of those killer questions that so many people don’t make the most of in responding to. Often used as an ice breaker to make the interviewee feel comfortable and settle in to the interview, this question is actually being used for so many more reasons than to help you feel comfortable.

Here’s what we are really assessing as you waffle your way through a response:

Communication Skills: Show us how skilled and articulate you are in communicating information. We’re assessing the language and terminology you use, your grammar and communication style to see if it is appropriate for and is suited to the position, company and environment of the vacancy.

Initiative: When asked this question, many people respond with “what do you want to know?” We ask this question to gauge your initiative in identifying what information is appropriate and relevant to share. We want to see how you deal with being given an unstructured situation. This is your opportunity to share with the interviewer what you want them to know about you. When answered well, this question is your opportunity to highlight achievements, demonstrate your suitability for the position and differentiate yourself from the other candidates being interviewed.

Self Confidence: We’re observing your body language, eye contact and how you present yourself in a new, unfamiliar and potentially stressful situation.

Interpersonal Skills: We want to see how effective you are in engaging us and building rapport with us in this first few moments of the interview. If you can’t demonstrate your ability to do this of course we are going to wonder how you’d build rapport with your new team and the stakeholders you’ll interact with in the job.

Your natural style: The way in which you respond to this question demonstrates your natural style. By natural style I’m talking about: are you big picture, are you fact orientated, are you a detail person, do you openly share information about yourself personally and professionally, are you guarded and the list goes on. Sometimes it is equally as much about what you don’t say when responding to this question.

To nail this interview question don’t underestimate it, prepare and practice your response prior to the interview. Think about exactly what it is you want the interviewer to know about you, your accomplishments and why you are suitable for the vacancy.

Is this an interview question you struggle with or have struggled with in the past? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. Or if you’ve got other killer interview questions that you’d like some help and advice with, feel free to let us know and I’ll be sure to cover it in an upcoming blog.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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