31 Aug 2020

How to answer the interview question - "Tell us about yourself?"

This is usually one of the first questions asked during the interview - and a fantastic opportunity to make a great first impression. 

Why is this question asked?

The interviewer wants to know how your experience is relevant to the job you are applying for.

What we need to get across in our answer: Why we are qualified for the job and why we applied in the first place.

Step 1 - Preparing your answer 

First - review the job description and make a note on why your experience and skills qualify you for the role. Identify your relevant expertise, strengths and the unique qualities you can bring to the hiring company.

Then have a think of any success stories or situations where you excelled.

Ask yourself 

• Why are you interested in applying for the role? How does it align with your career goals?

• Why are you interested in the company or industry?

• What gets you excited about working at the company?

Step 2 - The structure of your answer

Combining WHAT you are professionally, with WHO you are, and WHY you’re a great candidate for this role. 

What to include in your answer: 

• Mention your job title, responsibilities and projects that you've worked on recently

• Discuss any recent accomplishments

• Discuss relevant past experience that led to your current position

• Highlight any new hard and transferable skills acquired (Especially if you’re moving into a different industry/role)

• What you’re looking to do next and why you are interested in this role

What to avoid in your answer:

• Regurgitating what’s written on your CV and Cover Letter

• Telling your life story

• Winging it - Instead, prepare your answer so you’re confident about discussing each of your key points during the interview

• Mentioning highly personal information - religion, details about your family or partner, political affiliation, etc.

• Mentioning your strengths and skills without any supporting evidence or examples

Putting it all together - Sample answers

Management Role

(CURRENT SITUATION & CAREER BACKGROUND) “I’m an innovative ecommerce manager with over 5 years experience managing all aspects of an online business - from implementation to sales - for small and medium sized businesses.”

(SKILLS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS) “I have spent the past two years at [company name] where I was promoted to a senior role within 9 months. I love managing teams and delivering solutions for clients.”

(BRING IT BACK TO THE JOB) “Although I’m enjoying my current job, I feel I’m ready for a more challenging role and this position very much excites me. The opportunity to lead such an innovative team is what motivated me to begin working within this industry.”

Construction/Labour Role

(CURRENT SITUATION & CAREER BACKGROUND) “I am currently the team lead for XYZ Freight. During the past 3 years, I have been promoted several times, from a General Assistant, to Package Loader and Assistant Foreman."

(SKILLS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS) “During my time I have completed various Construction Skills Certifications including Scaffolding - basic and Scaffolding - advanced. I have also had the opportunity to work on a number of special projects which include the reconstruction of the radar tower at Dublin Airport. I really enjoy being an Assistant Foreman - it gives me great pleasure to empower my team and motivate them to strive for their best.”

(BRING IT BACK TO THE JOB) “I believe that this experience and training have prepared me for the next step in my career which is why I have applied for the management role at your company. Your organisation has received a number of excellence awards in recent times, so to be part of an industry-leading team and to grow with the very best is what excites me most about this opportunity.”

No Experience - Customer Service Role

(CURRENT SITUATION & CAREER BACKGROUND) “I’m a motivated recent graduate from the University of College Cork. I completed a BA in Communications this year, receiving a 2:1 degree.”

(SKILLS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS) “During my studies, I lead a team of 5 people for our final year project management module. I was responsible for the organisation and smooth running of group meetings as well as delivering a keynote presentation. Our team received an overall grade of 80%.”

(BRING IT BACK TO THE JOB) “While I’m just starting my professional career, I feel I have the necessary skills for the role of Customer Assistant at your company. I have always strived in a team environment, and given that this role requires cooperation between a large team of over 15 people, I know I can bring value to working with others to reach the company’s objectives.”

Marketing Role

(CURRENT SITUATION & CAREER BACKGROUND) "I have been working in the marketing industry for 3 years, primarily working in technical and project executive positions."

(SKILLS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS) "Most recently I worked as a senior marketing executive for a large multinational firm that involved working closely with senior management to implement international digital marketing campaigns. With this project coming to a close, I realised that I am looking for a new challenge. I feel that my industry experience of delivering solutions for senior managers will allow me to meet and exceed the expectations for this position."

(BRING IT BACK TO THE JOB) "When I saw your company was hiring for this role I applied immediately. I have been a long term admirer of your organisation's corporate social responsibility campaigns, and being part of a company that gives back to the community is a huge motivating factor for where I want to work."

Customer Service Role

(CURRENT SITUATION & CAREER BACKGROUND) “I’m currently working at XYZ Company as a Customer Service Manager. I have been in this role for 15 months.”

(SKILLS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS) “Recently I successfully led a project to reduce time spent on manual processes by implementing chatbox technology solutions that automate answers for customer queries. In addition to process improvement projects, I spend the majority of my time managing key client accounts, providing them with solutions for their eCommerce platform.”

(BRING IT BACK TO THE JOB) “I now feel it’s the right time in my career for a new challenge. Only recently your company announced its expansion plans for the next 5 years, and I feel to reach my own professional objectives, It’s necessary for me to join a company that matches my own ambition.”

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We wish you all the best with your job interview!

Good luck with your interview!

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