The Elite Career Blog

Interview Question 101 - Tell Me About Yourself

Adriana Modersitzki
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January 3, 2018
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4 minute read

'So, Tell Me About Yourself'

You walk into the interview, shake hands, sit down and the first thing that comes out of the interviewer's mouth is 'Tell me a little bit about yourself".
Ah. Ok.......What do they want to hear about? Do you tell them about how you like to hang glide? Do you talk about your family? Wait. What if talking about your children provides grounds for inadvertent discrimination? Do you stick to your work history? Will that make you seem boring?

This interview 'question’ often stumps a lot of applicants when they’re in the interview hot seat, as they don’t quite understand the balance of personal versus professional information to disclose. Rest assured, recruiters and hiring managers don’t ask this question simply to see you squirm.  The motivation here is to gather a more balanced view of you as a person, outside of the work history on your resume. It’s also an excellent opportunity for you to develop a rapport with the interviewer and it gives you a chance to relax into the interview process.

When you’re interviewing for a position, you need to keep in mind the core message that you want to deliver, when answering ALL questions - even ones that sounds friendly and chatty! The core message during an interview is “I’m the best match for this position, and I’m someone you want to hire as part of your team.” With that in mind, here are some quick dos and don’ts:

Dos and Don’ts

DO NOT – Go too far into personal territory. Remember you’re in a job interview, not having a coffee with an old friend. Let's not talk about health issues or focus on your family too much.

DO NOT – Load in so much information that no one else can get a word in edgewise. If you want to take this opportunity to develop a rapport with the interviewer, then you have to give them a chance to engage with you and your story. This answer must paint a picture of YOU and give some insight into your personality.

DO NOT – Keep things purely professional. You want to give the interviewer a little insight into you as a person. This is also an opportunity to provide context around any major career changes or gaps. For example, you may have travelled overseas for 12 months and have a gap in your work history, or perhaps you have gone back to study to facilitate a major career change. Talk about why.

DO NOT – Over exaggerate or tell tall tales. This one is self-explanatory. Recruiters and hiring managers perform reference checks, and if things that seem too good to be true - they check.

DO - Be upfront and honest about your abilities and achievements.

So, What CAN I Say?

If I were asked this question (and being self-employed I often am!) I would say:

“I’m a resume writer and career coach, so I work with people to empower them to succeed and develop confidence when job hunting. My background is in recruitment, and until starting Elite, I worked for a major recruiting agency in several locations all around Australia, recruiting for a range of industries. I loved engaging with applicants and sourcing the best possible employees for my clients, but I noticed very quickly that I spent a lot of time either culling through poorly written resumes that didn’t do the applicant justice or interviewing applicants that were so nervous that they struggled to represent themselves well. When I took maternity leave my family moved to Cairns, and unfortunately, there was no local branch of the company I worked for there. Thinking back to my time recruiting, I decided to create Elite to demystify the recruitment process and help job seekers represent themselves in the best possible way. I started off with a laptop and that golden 40 minutes of naptime, and haven't looked back. “

Now, that never comes out the same way twice, but I know the things I want to cover. With those in mind, I can paint a quick picture that tells more about me as a person than my resume alone can, and it takes me maybe 2 – 3 minutes to deliver. It also leaves a little room for the interviewer to ask me questions back.
BAM! We have a conversation, rather than a monologue.

For more, see my Free Advice Friday video on this topic over on the Elite Facebook page.

Take The Next Step

I hope you’ve found this useful! If you need a little hands-on help to prepare for interviews, you can book a session with us here. Alternatively, you can find us over on our Facebook page where we post regular tips and tricks to help you successfully negotiate your job hunt.

Elite Résumé Services is a boutique career consulting service. With a little polish and some new, shiny Elite packaging, you’ll stand a cut above the rest.

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