The interview question “tell us about yourself” is the same as “tell me about yourself”. The variation in most cases is in the panel you face. When you are in front of one executive, the question is most likely tell me about yourself. But when you are facing a group of interviewers, the question will come in the form of “tell us about yourself”. Other forms in which this questions appears in interview halls includes

  • Let’s know you
  • Tell us about your background
  • Let’s meet you
  • Who is John Parker (where John Parker is your name)
  • Tell me something about yourself
  • May we meet you, etc.

In his article Job Interview: Why preparation is the key to your success James opined that “Securing a good job require adequate preparation. When you are out to build a successful career, preparation is necessary to utilize opportunities that may come your way.

The fact that the richest 1% in the world owned more wealth than the rest of the human race is mind bugling. Those who fly higher are mostly committed people who live prepared…”

The fact that you are here, means you are preparing, but it does’t stop here. Preparation is important even after you know how to answer all the interview questions with the right answers. And remember that understanding is far better than reciting of what you read anywhere.

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.

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 namely, getting to know the potential employee.

The interviewer is not looking for information that is already contained in your curriculum vitae. So 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.

Consider this particular question as a first impression opportunity to set the tone of the entire job interview in your favour 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 hubbies and love for certain things, but let your focus be on what is related to the job you are been interviewed for.

Instead, go for 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. Before getting to the right way to answer “tell us about yourself” lets see the wrong way to answer this question.

How Not to Answer “Tell Us About Yourself”

If you answer the “tell us about yourself” question wrongly, you will come across to your interviewers or employers as one of the following: Over-qualified, under-qualified, naive, not enthusiastic about the job, or simply seen as a risk for the company you seek to get employed in.

1. A Fool is Know For Much Speaking (Don’t Give Them a Reason to Nap)

In his book Ecclesiastes 5:3 Solomon stated that one way to know a foolish person is because they talk too much. Be that as it may, you are in an interview to talk, but remember that a meaning succinct statement is always better than a lengthy one. You are not auditioning to be a stand up comedian.

The main problem with talking too much in interviews is that you will eventually say things that will come back to hurt you when its time to pick the right candidate. Don’t be like those who would go as far as talking about their first dates, how many children they have that could make employers see them as potential late comers. Keep private stuff private and focus on official stuff. According to Anatole France “Silence is the wit of fools.” so speak just the right amount of words.

2. Resume Recitation (Don’t go There)

Many job applicant would dive into their resume in attempting this question. But this can lead to too much information. Not that you should not talk about your resume content, but let it be an overview of information that makes you right for the job you are interviewing for.

3. Don’t Answer “Tell us about yourself” With a Question

Many candidate will start the answering of “tell us about yourself” with another question. It normally comes in this form “You mean about my job experience or about my educational background or what kind of information are you looking for?” says Pamela Skillings.

4. Don’t Talk About Your Former Boss

This interview is about you and you alone. The interviewer is interested in knowing how you fit into what they want. It will become a mistake to use this time to talk about your former boss bad or good behavior towards you. Let the interviewers know that you can function in your role even under pressure.

How to Answer “Tell Us About Yourself”

 

1. 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 its absolutely 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.

I was in charge of 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.

Wrong way to answer

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. (zety)

2. 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 favourably in your direction. By turning the tide favourably in your direction, we mean get the interviewers to like your person immediately. Sometime 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 Bossie award. Before that I worked for two years as a software engineer at SurgeWallop. 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. (zety)

3. 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. I think they’re giving you an opportunity to articulate succinctly 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 client calls and visits every week. In fact I saved 20 management hours a month by triaging 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. (zety)

Conclusion

In all your preparation to answer “tell us about yourself,” remember that the interviewers want to know how and why you are qualified for the job, so keep it professional, be enthusiastic, brief, keep it positive and ensure you have a good understand of the best answer presentation so you can navigate every curve and twist.

 

Themuse “Tell Me About Yourself” Sample Answers

“Well, I’m currently an account executive at Smith, where I handle our top performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.”

“Sure! So I’ve always enjoyed writing and public speaking, even going back to high school. This led me to pursue writing-related passions, for example in college, where I was an editor for our school newspaper. In addition to writing, I got to learn how to manage a team and the writing process. After college, I took a job at Acme as a social media manager, writing copy and social content for the company blog, but I raised my hand to work on the communications plan for a product launch which is where I discovered my interest in product marketing. After switching to a product marketing role and managing the two most successful new product launches last year, I realized I’m excited to take on a new role. I’ve learned I work best on products that I love and use, and given that I’m a big user of your company’s products I jumped at the chance to apply when I saw the open posting.”

“I’ve been in the marketing industry for over five years, primarily working in account and project management roles. I most recently worked as a senior PM for a large tech company managing large marketing campaigns and overseeing other project managers. And now I’m looking to expand my experience across different industries, particularly fintech, which is why I’m so interested in joining an agency like yours.”

References