May 28, 2020  
 
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How to Answer the "Tell Me about Yourself" Question

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

The question "Tell me about yourself" often has people stumped in interview situations. For all intents and purposes it would seem like one of the easiest questions in the world to answer. The problem is that many interviewees are unsure what information they should include in the answer. In order to answer effectively you need to understand what it is exactly that the interviewer hopes to glean from your answer. You also need to be prepared so that you're not flustered when question time comes around.

Gearing yourself up to answer the 'tell me about yourself' question appropriately is really quite simple if you divide preparation of your response into three separate phases.

1.

The question is essentially about you, but during the first phase of preparation you should focus on the company and the job you are applying for. What three qualities are essential for the position?

We'll suppose you are applying for sales job. Your prospective employer will be looking for someone who is:

  • A good communicator who likes dealing with people.
  • Capable of setting targets and keeping to a strategy in order to achieve them.
  • Able to accept rejection, if for example, a sale doesn't go through.

So you might say:

"I'm an outgoing person who gets on with people. I'm self motivated and enjoy setting myself targets. I'm also determined when it comes to achieving my goals despite any obstacles."

2.

Focus on your previous employment; make a note to mention your last position or one that has a bearing on the job you are applying for. Mention a couple of your achievements. Like this:

"I was the ABC Company's top sales representative for four consecutive years. I was responsible for the sale of more than 6 million product units."

3.

Now look at the company you are applying to. In this part of your answer you will be revealing your interest in the company. Be enthusiastic and make points that are relevant to the industry.

Something like this:

"I'd like to work in solar panel sales as I believe my skills at building long-lasting relationships with customers would be put to use. It is your company I am particularly interested in as you run a green policy throughout and not just in product manufacture. I think more and more people are going to turn toward a green way of life and I'd like to be involved with a company that promotes that."

By combining the three sections your response would be as follows:

"I'm an outgoing person who gets on with people. I'm self motivated and enjoy setting myself targets. I'm also determined when it comes to achieving my goals despite any obstacles. I was the ABC Company's top sales representative for four consecutive years. I was responsible for the sale of more than 6 million product units during my time there. I'd like to work in solar panel sales as I believe my skills at building long-lasting relationships with customers would be put to use. It is your company I am particularly interested in as you run a green policy throughout and not just in product manufacture. I think more and more people are going to turn toward a green way of life and I'd like to be involved with a company that promotes that."

Notes:

  • Never say, "I'd like to work for your company because of the commission rates and the company car." This expresses self-interest - it is the company that should be your main interest.
  • Keep responses short. Avoid talking for over two minutes. Rehearse and time yourself as you read aloud.
  • Learn your response so that it is second nature to you to give it in answer to the question.
  • Ask the interviewer a question such as, "Have you noticed an increase in public interest in solar energy in the past couple of years?" This presents the opportunity for further communications.

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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