Tell me about yourself

Written by: Pam Lindsay-Dunn, Director of People and Culture, Hays EMEA
Published on: 8 Apr 2019

“Tell me about yourself” ostensibly seems like quite an easy interview question. In actual fact, quite a lot can go wrong at this stage. This is often the first question an interviewer will ask you, and your answer will inform the entire basis of their first impression. Also if you slip up here, you risk feeling nervous and derailing your confidence and flow for the rest of the meeting. That’s why it’s essential that the answer you provide is a good one. 

By structuring your response, you will be able to cover all the relevant points and keep the interviewer engaged with your story. Here’s how: 

1. Only include relevant points from your list of qualifications 

When answering this part of the question, ensure you only include the experience and education that relates directly to your role. Nobody cares about the paper-round you had when you were 15! Instead, provide your interviewer with a brief overview of your professional background, and only mention qualifications that support your application. 

With this type of answer in mind, you have outlined only the educational and career history which is relevant. Keep them engaged to prepare for your next point. 

2. Which key skills support your candidacy? 

It’s now time to discuss your relevant skills and development gained from your professional background and experience so far. For instance, in something like a marketing role, you might say: 

“During my time in the industry, I managed to apply what I learnt from my Master’s degree, and expand my knowledge further upon my digital marketing experience." 

You should be able to support this answer through measurable examples, such as campaigns or stats that you can claim credit for. 

By this stage you now should have provided an overview of your educational and professional background, and supported it with your key relevant skills and evidence to back up your points. 

3. How the role fits with your desired next stage of your career 

This should be the final part to your answer, and is your best chance to tell your potential employer about your ambitions in a way that supports your application. 

It can be useful to look at this as a trick question. Although it may be tempting to talk about the reasons why you want to leave your current employer, this should in fact be centred around why you want the role within this new organisation. 

This way, you will come across positive in your interview and show your potential employer that you’re interested and enthusiastic about the role. 

Putting it all together 

So, by applying all of these golden rules in one go, you can create something like this to confidently answer the question: 

1.“I am business management graduate with a Masters in Digital Marketing. Since leaving university I have pursued my marketing career for the last 2 years within the sports industry.  

2. During my time in the industry, I managed to apply what I learnt from my Master’s degree, whilst expanding my knowledge further upon my digital marketing experience. I believe that my skills are best highlighted from my recent email marketing campaign I lead, increasing our conversion rates by 10%. 

3. My previous organisation helped me develop the digital skills I have today, however, I believe that for the sake of progressing my expertise further, it’s time to move on. Therefore, I’m looking for a more challenging role within a fast-paced global organisation, where there is plenty of room for me to grow as a marketing professional; hence why I was so pleased to be invited to interview for this role.” 

Practice, practice, practice! 

Practice makes perfect, and by doing so you will be able to avoid the nerves and common interview errors of maybe forgetting what to say as well as displaying negative body language. Your body language says a lot about you, and can even be the deciding factor for you to succeed. Don’t let your nerves show through and affect your performance. 

Use these steps above to start your interview strong, plan a concise and positive answer that tells your potential employer why you deserve this role, and why your experiences make you the best fit for the organisation. 

If you are looking for support with your employment needs please contact your local office

About this author 

Pam has been at Hays for over 20 years and is the Director of People and Culture working across EMEA. Prior to her current role working across Europe, Pam held a management role within Hays running a large commercial region in the UK. Having benefited from gaining first-hand experience managing teams in a busy sales environment, Pam is now passionate about sharing her experience; providing the best support to our business and ensuring that our workforce is able to adapt to the changing world of work.