Recently, preparation as a key ingredient for interview success was discussed and it is important to state you are configured to fail an interview without preparation. This might not be the case if you are the only person who is overly qualified for the job – (Classic case of a one eyed man being a king in the company of the blind) but, if you are being interviewed along with other professionals, adequate preparation will be a key factor to your success.

Whether you hold a professional certification or not, one way to shine in an interview and dictate the tone of the whole interview is learning how to answer “tell us about yourself” as this is usually the first asked question in 90% of most interviews, and is such a big opportunity for you.


Tell us About Yourself (What Does it Mean)

Consider that the interviewer is not asking this question for asking sake, he/she has your resume and knows the basic information about you already. “tell us about yourself” or “tell me about yourself” is a question you need to understand the reason behind or why interviewers/employers ask the question.


  1. Interviewers like to start with this question, and depending on what you say, that will determine the nature of questions that would follow. According to Muse career coach and CareerSchooled founder Al Dea; “Depending on what you say, it’s going to help them figure out the next question, which might help start a chain effect of follow-up questions and lend an easy flow to the conversation.” Al Dea also states that the “tell us about yourself” question also helps recruiters and HR managers accomplish what’s often one of human resources major goals in the recruitment process which is getting to know the potential employee.


  1. The interviewer is not looking for information that is already contained in your curriculum vitae. Answering the question with recitation from your curriculum vitae will not help your chances. The interviewers want to know how you fit into the job role you are applying for and you should answer with relevant information.


  1. Consider this question as a first impression opportunity to set the tone of the entire job interview in your favor by presenting a desirable personality for the interviewers. As noted earlier don’t go into recitation of the content of your resume. Also, don’t go talking about your love for things that don’t relate with the job except the interviewer ask, focus on what is related to the job you are been interviewed for.


  1. Dwell on a concise, enthusiastic, sale pitch kind of response that adequately sells you as the very candidate for the job. Give your interviewers the impression that there could be other offers on your table, and you are just looking to pick the right one without saying anything about that.


The interviewers hope in asking you “tell us about yourself” is to keep you talking long enough to get necessary information for their next question, so by selling yourself efficiently, you make them like your personality and dictate subsequent questions.


How to Answer “Tell Us About Yourself”

  • Know Before Whom You Are Speaking (Your Audience)

“Tell us about yourself” question can come from different personnel during the recruitment process. In most cases it will come as “tell me about yourself” especially when you are been interviewed by one person. The understanding of the position and knowledge level of the person interviewing you should inform the way you answer. If this question is asked by a potential superior officer you will be working with when hired, then you can go technical, but not when you are been asked by a receptionist or a HR personnel who don’t really understand the technicality of your job. Therefore, avoid the habit of using same answer for every occasion. Imagine a Business Analyst professional talking technically to a HR officer at an interview hall. Technical terms should be saved for those with appropriate knowledge unless it’s necessary to pass a message.


“Tell Us About Yourself” Right and Wrong Answer Sample 1

Right way to answer:

My name is Matthew Jones; I really enjoy being at the center of a top design team. I worked as lead designer at Studio256 Designs for the past four years.

Wrong way to answer:

I oversaw four designers who delivered over 150 client projects a year. Before that I worked at Ricardo’s Crop Shop for two years, where I chipped in on a customer website that won a Shopify Design award. It’s been a great learning experience, but I’m ready to spread my wings at a high-end design firm like yours (Name of company). That’s why I’m so excited for this position.

I live and breathe design. I’ve been into art for many years, and I just love that I can do this kind of work and get paid for it. I’ve been working for seven years now in graphic design, and I just adore it. I’m so gratified that I get to go to work every day and do something that I love. (zesty)


  • This Is Often Your, First Impression So Make It Count

Make sure you are at your best when answering this question. The “tell us about yourself” question will be the first question over 90% of the time, so preparing to be at your best matters. This will help you turn the tides favorably in your direction. By turning the tide favorably in your direction, we mean get the interviewers to like your person immediately.
Sometimes the things that inform big decision making are instant and interview halls are no exception.


“Tell Us About Yourself” Right and Wrong Answer Sample 2


Right way to answer:

I really enjoy providing robust software solutions. I’ve led a software engineering team of 10 programmers at Xyzzy Solutions for three years. Our proudest moment was receiving the 2018 XX awards of excellence. Before that, I worked for two years as a software engineer at XX Organization where I slashed security breaches 70% by winning full employee buy-in for our Principle of Least Privilege drive. It’s been a great run, but I’m chafing at the bit to sink my teeth in with a high-performing DevOps team like the one at Brass LAMP Dev.

Wrong way to answer

I’ve always been really interested in computers. I guess for the past nine years now I’ve been a programmer, but my passion for tech started way back when I was a kid. I’ve always loved monkeying around with code, but it wasn’t until I moved to Arizona that I tried to make a living off it. I got really into it and I can’t imagine doing anything else. (zesty)


  • Give an Answer That Relates to the Role and Company

Each time you hear the question “tell us about yourself” in an interview, the interviewer or employer wants to hear about you in relation to the job you are applying for.

According to Tina Wascovich “When an interviewer asks that, they really mean tell me about yourself as it’s relevant to the position you’re applying for and this company. They’re giving you an opportunity to articulate why you have the right qualifications,”

Stav Ziv opines “Take advantage of the opportunity! In order to do that, you’ll want to spend some time combing through the job description, researching the company, and figuring out how you can tell your story in a way that makes it crystal clear why you’re interested and what you bring to the table that aligns with the role and company.”


“Tell Us About Yourself” Right and Wrong Answer Sample 3

Right way to answer:

A: My name is Jude Wilson, I thrive in the excitement of a fast-paced office. As a receptionist at Drake & Caswell, I loved interacting with our 200 regular clients and managing training and travel schedules for 25 employees. Before that at Mindon Well Drilling, I really enjoyed being the contact point for hundreds of clients calls and visits every week. In fact, I saved 20 management hours a month by sorting calls and emails. Those were great opportunities, but I’m at the point where this position at Maven Consulting Solutions would really let my talents shine.


Wrong way to answer:

Well I’ve been a receptionist for the past seven years and I love it. You know, interacting with all the people and taking calls and just working with people in general. I’m a people person. I love the back and forth and energy. Even on my days off I love hanging out with friends and being around family. I’m also a hard worker and I’m very dependable.


Final Words

Preparation for an interview is important but your preparation might not do much if your competition is those with certifications such as APHRi, PHRi, SPHRi, GPHR, CAMP, PMI-PMP, PMI-PBA that you don’t possess. While it is important that you prepare adequately, it’s also important that you build your CV with the right professional certifications. These tips will make you standout in any interview.

Do you have any interview stories, please share in the comment section?

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