Do’s and Don’ts to “Tell Me About Yourself” In a Job Interview
By Giulia Martinez
When you’re applying for a job, one of the important phases of the screening process is the job interview. This interview allows the employer to converse with you and evaluate if you are qualified enough to be hired. Being interviewed also lets you show off your social skills and lets the employer know how you interact and answer questions. While different employers may have varying questions for their interviews—depending on the context of the job—almost all of them open them with the same prompts:
“Tell me about yourself.”
Answering this can be a hit or miss situation. This broad prompt opens up so many avenues for one to answer, and while employers sometimes just use this as an icebreaker, it is still important for you to make a good first impression on them with how you tackle it. So with that, what are things you should and shouldn’t do while answering this question?
Don’t panic. Breathe it out and keep your composure as you answer. This is the very first prompt of the interview, after all. An interview is a two-way street, and keeping yourself relaxed will keep the interviewer calm as well.
Don’t walk the employer through your whole life story. They don’t need to know where you were born or what your long origin story was before getting to where you are today.
Don’t go point by point explaining your resumé. This is unnecessary because the employer has already supposedly read your resumé at this rate. It’s best not to waste time on things they already know, and just use this interview to tell them about more specific qualities that might make them more interested in you.
Don’t complain about your current job (if ever you have one). Even if your current job does not give you the satisfaction you want, it’s still not a good idea to tell the employer that. It is important to remember that they will want to hire someone who is genuinely interested and excited about working at the company. Meeting someone who is just trying to escape a situation will come off as a red flag.
Don’t be too over-confident. Yes, it’s good to be self-assured, but being too confident in your interview might be a turn-off to the employer. Remember that you haven’t been hired yet, and that being given a chance for a job is a privilege not everyone gets to have. Stay humble when you speak, and everything will follow.
Try to do some background research on the company beforehand. You might be given plus points by the employer if they see that you know exactly what the company’s goals are, and what role you will play in that if you get the job. Answering “tell me about yourself” could also involve you saying that you are interested in what the company does, and that you have the skill set to further their purpose.
Have an elevator pitch prepared! Some people may be better at winging answers than others, but if you want to prepare a little more, having an elevator pitch for yourself might help you stay concise. Some things you can mention are some of the skills you have acquired over the years, a hobby or two that relates to your interest in the job, and maybe even a fun fact about yourself that will make your employer want to learn more about you.
Tell your employer a few reasons why you are qualified and interested. You don’t need to list down every single experience that makes you qualified! Maybe stating just a few highlights from recent times and summarizing what you brought to the table for each of them will let the employer see your potential.
Keep it short and sweet! This is the first prompt of the entire interview, so keeping your answer concise and digestible will save you a good amount of time. You won’t want to waste all your energy on that first prompt, either. Being able to seamlessly gloss over summaries and highlights in your career will give the employer a good glimpse into how you answer questions. Overall, stay straight-to-the-point and don’t stray too far talking about unnecessary details.
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