Interview spotlight – tell me about yourself

When you go to a job interview it’s almost inevitable you will be asked: “Tell me about yourself.” Although this is a frequently asked question, interviewees can still find it difficult to answer, as it is such an unstructured question that is open to all sorts of interpretation.

The interviewer will often open with this question for a number of reasons: to see how you conduct yourself in an unstructured situation, how confident you are, if you can think on your feet and whether you are articulate.


How not to respond

Although this is a very open question, the one response the interviewer doesn’t want to hear is: “What do you want to know?” This will immediately show that you are poorly prepared for the interview.

Try to focus on things that will interest the interviewer. They aren’t interested in where you went to school and where you grew up, but what you can bring to the job and the company.


Career summary

Provide a brief summary of what you have been doing recently by talking about your current or last job. Most importantly, let them know about what skills you have gained in the tasks you have been responsible for and how they tie in with the role that you are being interviewed for. Employers are looking to see if you have transferable skills that will be beneficial to the role they are recruiting for.


State any relevant professional memberships or training courses that you are involved in – this shows you are interested in improving your skills and keeping up to date with current industry affairs and standards.

The other thing recruiters are looking for is whether your personality fits in with the culture of the company and the team you’ll be working with. If you are personable, professional and polite in an interview, this will go a long way.



Describe any major achievements that you have gained from your previous roles – it might be that you have increased sales, delivered training to colleagues or designed a new website. Anything that relates to the job you are interviewing for will be of particular interest.


Use any positive feedback you have received to your advantage too; don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet. You may have received a performance-related incentive, a prize for outstanding achievement or a letter from senior management thanking you for your hard work on a particular project.


Keep it brief

Remember that the interviewer will have several other questions to ask you, so be careful not to go off at a tangent or start rambling. They just want to know a little bit about you at this stage and will pick up on anything that raises their interest later in the interview. Try writing down and practising the points before the interview so you don’t forget any of the things you want to get across.


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