What’s the best way to answer the “tell me about yourself” question at an interview?

What’s the best way to answer the “tell me about yourself” question at an interview?

So you’ve settled into the interview room and finished with the pleasantries around your journey when the interviewer smiles and starts the interview with this question “so tell me about yourself?”

What can seem an innocuous introductory question is fraught with hidden danger. As it is so open and vague it is very easy to waffle, go off on a tangent and be unclear when you’ve answered the question when to stop.

It can throw the unprepared candidate off from the very start. Answered right and you’ve made a great first impression, differentiated yourself and are in the driving seat. You’ve set the tone for the interview and encouraged a genuine conversation to develop around your achievements.

So what is the interviewer really interested in hearing about? Not your life story and not your whole career. Quite simply, they want to hear why you are an appropriate candidate.

Avoid being caught out by being unstructured and rambling in your answer by preparing well.

Here are my top interview tips:

1. Focus on what demonstrates your suitability to the role.

2. Look for the clues in the job and person specification and match them with your most relevant achievements.

3. Research what’s important to their industry, their business and their team.

4. Visit the ‘Work for us’ section of their website, and check out the interviewer and other employees on LinkedIn.

We recommend writing down your answer in advance and practising it out loud several times so that you sound natural, confident and succinct.

And if the question doesn’t get asked it will not be a wasted effort as you can use a version of it to answer the “why should we choose you?” question.


You may also find the following articles useful in your interview preparation:

Top tips to help you beat off competition and succeed in an interview

Interviews: Actions speak louder than words

Preparing for an interview

How to handle tricky interview questions


Working with a career coach can greatly improve your chances of success at an interview by ensuring you are well prepared, fully focused and can sell yourself effectively to the interviewer.

Personal Career Management are the leading provider of outplacement and career coaching services in the UK, and have a strong team of experienced career coaches to help you manage your career effectively and put together an effective, targeted job search campaign.

If you are interested in finding out more about how our career coaches at Personal Career Management can help, please contact us on 01753 888995 or fill in our online contact form. We also offer a free introductory meeting.

About The Author

Corinne Mills

Corinne Mills is the Joint Managing Director of Personal Career Management, she is a career coach, trained in workplace counselling and NLP with 15 years career management experience. Corinne is a Fellow of the CIPD and ex Chair for the CIPD Chiltern Branch. Her background is as a Senior HR Manager with a MA in Human Resources (MCIPD), Corinne is the author of the UK's no 1 best-selling CV book "You're Hired! How to write a brilliant CV" and 'Career Coach'.

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