“Tell me about yourself” – This is a question that is used quite often and is one that you should certainly prepare an interview answer for. Interviewers like it because it provides an easy starting point and can also cover a lot of ground. Also many interviewers don’t really know what questions to ask, so this is an easy way out.
For you as an interviewee, it is a great question. It gives you an opportunity to provide a detailed background about yourself and can also help you steer the interview in a direction that you want.
You might be tempted to provide your entire life history (where you grew up, how many children you have, and so on) as a response to this question; however, most of it will be irrelevant. It is important to focus on what the interviewer is most interested in – which is anything that shows you will be able to perform the job well. One good approach to handle the question is provided below:
First provide a summary of your past education and experience. At this point do not give too much information. For your work experience, mention where you worked and what your role involved. For your education, skip school and start with university. Talk about which university you went to (especially if it is well known) and what you studied (especially if it is relevant for the target job)
Then for the most relevant education/experience you can elaborate a bit by talking about some of your important achievements, which showcase the key strengths (most needed for the target job) you displayed, along with a specific example/situation to serve as proof. A good format to use for this is CAR
- Challenge: What was the situation or challenge that you faced?
- Action: What actions did you take to overcome the challenge?
- Results: What were the results?