“Tell Us About Yourself”

“Tell me a bit about yourself”

Do you dread being asked this question?  Do you even know where to start?  This question seems to throw candidates into a spin!  Tell me a bit about yourself – it’s not an excuse to talk about your life story!

It’s actually very simple when you think about the person asking the question.  Think for a moment the reasons why you are being asked this question.  If you start to consider this question from the interviewer’s point of view it becomes much clearer.  They simply want to ascertain your fit to the job, team and company.

Would you like to be able to handle this question with confidence?  Would you like three easy steps to help you prepare for this question?

So, let’s discuss the purpose of the job interview and what and how you are being assessed.  Understanding how you are being assessed will help you prepare for any question.


First and foremost, hiring managers are assessing your ability to do the job.  They want to feel confident from the conversations you have during the interview that you can do the job.

So, review and analyse the job advert and any other documents you’ve been sent.  If you have a job description that’s great.  Review the skills, knowledge, experience and the technical and behavioural competencies.  Look at the essential and desirable criteria and prepare accordingly.

Also, read and review the description and content of the job.  Not just the requirements, otherwise you’ll miss lots of additional information.  So, thoroughly review all the information you have available.  Use this information as a guide to prepare highly relevant examples and share your knowledge and skills.


The chemistry between the hiring manager and the candidate is so important.  Managers need to feel they can work with you.  They want to understand if you are going to work well with the team.  It’s important they leave the interview confident about your productivity and performance.

They also need to be confident you are going to fit with the wider organisation.  This doesn’t mean everyone is the same.  You can be from very different backgrounds and share the same values and objectives.  Diversity is very important to organisations today.  It’s highly beneficial to bring different experiences, views and opinions to a team.  Review the company website and follow them on social media to get an idea of their culture.


Most hiring managers and recruiters understand there’s no job for life.  That’s not what hiring managers are trying to ascertain when they assess your commitment.  They want to establish your motivation and drive for the job.  Are you genuinely interested in this job?  Highly motivated individuals take pride in their career and strive for results.  This attitude is a win-win for your career and the business.  Highly motivated individuals are productive and this benefits business.

Think about why this job is of interest.  Consider the reasons for wanting to join this company.  What is it about the sector you find most attractive?  Do your research on the company and the sector they operate. Look at the trends and major factors impacting this sector.  Take the time to explain the reasons for being interested.  Treat this question as the executive summary of a business case.  Be concise and succinct.

The guidelines for answering the “Tell me about yourself” question:

  • Match your experience, skills and knowledge to the job – this requires you to do your homework and read the job advert and job description.
  • It’s a great opportunity and an invitation to highlight your match and fit to the job requirements and the company culture.
  • Do be clear and concise with your answers – this will show you’ve taken the time to prepare and that you are considerate of the interviewer’s time.
  • Don’t use loads of buzz words or lots of adjectives – it’s not an opportunity to show off about how wonderful you are.  It’s better to prove you’re the right candidate.
  • Get the balance right between what you can bring to the organisation and what value you can add with your skills, experience and knowledge and how you will benefit from a career aspiration point of view.

Get the “Tell me a bit about yourself?” question wrong and you can so easily talk yourself out of a job.  It’s essential to take the time to understand the job and the organisation.

Hopefully, you’ll now have a much better understanding about what information hiring managers need to make a good decision.  Hiring managers aren’t actually asking you to tell your life story.  Most good recruiters won’t be asking about your personal life anyway – their role is to assess you against key requirements relating to that job and your fit to the corporate culture.

Dawn Moss is the Founder of Your Interview Coach. She helps both candidates and hiring managers through the complexities of the recruitment and selection process. For more information, visit www.yourinterviewcoach.co.uk

Tell Us About Yourself. The interview question everyone dreads

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