Tell Me About Yourself – A tricky but likely interview question

As someone who just recently started my first internship, I spent too much time stressing out about this question in preparation for the interview- when there really is no need to stress. If you follow the structure, put in the preparation time and practice out loud it all comes together.

According to our clients this question is one of the most dreaded to be asked in an interview. You are almost guaranteed to be asked this question in some form. Other ways employers may ask this question is: Talk me through your CV, or Talk me through your achievements or work experience and skills etc.

Preparation is essential for this question. At Hilt, we recommend an hour; practice saying it out loud too to see if it flows well and that you will be able to answer it in just two minutes! When preparing your answer make sure that what you are planning to say is relevant to the job requirements. Throughout your answer make sure to refer back to the job description, overlap and link the education, skills and experience you have to what is required- sell yourself.

With regards to structure, we suggest that for students and recent graduates you build your answer as follows:

  1. Education
  2. Skills/Competencies
  3. Work Experience
  4. Strong Finish
  1. Education

Summarise your recent education and how it is relevant to the job. Mention some modules or projects you worked on that you really enjoyed and  are relevant to the role. There is no need to talk about where you went to secondary school etc.

2. Skill/Competencies

Based on the job description, mention the relevant skills  you have for the job. Tell them where you acquired these skills be that in past work experience, jobs or education. For example.  “I have really strong customer service skills and I showed these when I was working in a busy call centre for a year while at college”. Prove that you are capable.

3. Work Experience

Tell the interviewer about your past jobs, work experience and how it is relevant to the job. Outline what your responsibilities were and the skills you learned.  Just because you don’t have experience of working in the industry you are interviewing for doesn’t mean that the work experience you have isn’t worth mentioning. For example, if you demonstrated great problem solving skills when working in a retail environment part-time and you are now interviewing for a graduate role in HR that requires excellent problem solving skills, those skills are definitely relevant and transferable.

4. Strong Finish

It is vital that you include a strong finish at the end of your answer. This gives you an opportunity to really sell yourself. Explain what you can do for them. Complete your answer with a memorable line. For example : ‘I believe that I have the skills required for this role and I would really like to be given the opportunity’.

Remember that you should be finishing up with this question within two minutes, make sure to time yourself when you are practicing out loud.

Don’t worry if during the interview you forget what comes next in your answer, pause and keep going, you will have the preparation done. The script does not need to be rigid.

The interviewer does not want to hear about your personal life or what you do in your spare time- keep it professional.

Find career related information and resources  in our book ‘CV & Interview 101’ available on our website, by clicking here. Or click below to view our other career resources.

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