How to Answer the Daunting & Ambiguous Interview Question: “Tell me about yourself”

Recruiters love to use this age old question as an icebreaker and no matter what type of job or position applied for, you can almost guarantee that you will start off being asked: “So! Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

Potential employers will use your response not to be nosy about what you like to get up to at the weekend; rather to decide two things about you as a person: your sincerity and your maturity level.

This question is also great for recruiters as it is quite open ended so they can use this to gage a candidate’s level of confidence and how well they portray themselves by the information that is communicated. If your opening answer to this question is subpar, or you speak too much about your hobbies without relating it to work, you can create the wrong first impression; so here is the best way to answer this tricky question:

Answer this question with the position in the forefront of your mind

This question can seem like an invitation for you to go into depth about your personal life in a longwinded aimless tale, so ensure to keep it succinct, highlighting your most notable experiences. Bear in mind that they already have the majority of your professional achievements in front of them which you should have listed on your CV.

The recruiter wants to know the relevant parts of your life story that relate to how well you will be able to perform in this role. For instance, if you are interviewing for a sales position, mention to the Manager about how you grew up running lemonade stalls to make some pocket money whilst you were still in school.

Ask yourself: “what is it about me that they really want to know”. This proves that you are mature; socially mindful; attentive to future tasks and can respond to any given responsibilities with ease of mind.

Be confident & don’t be afraid to show your true personality

While we have cautioned against the risks of waffling, it doesn’t mean that you should be robotic and stick to a scripted response when answering this question. Again, bear in mind that this is often used as the icebreaker, and the first impression you will exude to your potential new employers.  You should speak with confidence and show a bit of personality to your answer.

Your recruiter is hoping to hear who you really are and if you will fit in to the office culture additionally, so for instance an individual applying for a Journalist or Copywriter position may mention “I discovered my passion for copywriting in secondary school after I started writing for the weekly newspaper”. This is both relevant and shows an appetite for the role.

One or two small elements that show you are compassionate; a family oriented person or any other positive trait you’re hoping to portray can go a long way. Saying something similar to: “a detail which isn’t on my CV is my background; I grew up in a large, chaotic, generally happy Cypriot family.”

The best advice we can give you is: anticipate that this question is coming, so don’t dread it, welcome it as an opportunity to set yourself above your competition with a memorable and flawless first impression.