August 15, 2012

Job Interview Questions & Tips: Tell Me About Yourself

Tell me about yourself… It seems like an easy question, doesn’t it? 

This is the most common interview opener. It’s an opportunity you get to set the tone of your interview and sell yourself and your abilities to the interviewer/recruiter.

Most times, people ramble a couple of words when asked this; stating their name, date of birth, place of birth and MUTE. Here is an example of a very poor response to this enquiry;
“My name is Chinwe, I was born on the 22nd of June 1975. I grew up in Delta State. I completed my youth service in 2010” .

Whenever you're asked a question at an interview, it's important you quickly inform yourself why the interviewer is asking that question. This will guide you to enrich your answers with the right content.

You are asked about yourself for many reasons, including the following;

  • To see how prepared you are for the interview
  • To check how much self awareness you have
  • To hear you discuss your interests and abilities 
Obviously, these 3 items will give the recruiter an idea of what you'll bring to the job if employed. A recruiter can use the "About You" query to identify a good team player, an organised individual, a good communicator etc. On the other hand, less favourable attributes like poor communication, nervousness and poor composure can be picked out from your response.

Your answer to this enquiry will have an effect on the rest of your interview. Therefore, it is important you respond with information that highlights your skills and abilities. Remember, your ultimate goal is to get the job by convincing the interviewer that you are the ideal candidate. Plan what you say.

How to PROPERLY respond to “Tell me about yourself”
  •  Start with your name
  • Give a quick summary of your professional certifications and academics (no need mentioning your primary school education here)
    • Mention your professional certifications and academic achievements (only state those relevant for the job you're being interviewed for)
    • Mention what spurred your interest in your chosen degree / career path (This is mainly for recent graduates. Mention reasons for your interest in particular subjects while at University / Secondary School)
    • Mention activities you were involved in while at university with a focus on the skills you developed. (This is mainly for recent graduates)
  • Give a quick summary of what you are doing at the moment
    • Mention your responsibilities on your current job (with focus on the ones that require similar skills as the job you for which you are being interviewed)
    • Mention your previous work experiences (still with focus on skills)
  • Conclude by stating your interest in/ fit with the position/organisation. (This should be a very brief conclusion because the question about your interest in the position/organisation will be asked later. Also, you may be cut off if you start a lengthy speech)
Notice the keyword here is summary. Also, entry level individuals should have more focus on bullet point 2 and less on point 3 while  professional hires should have more focus on point 3 and less on point 2 (practice aright).

What NOT to say in response to "Tell Me About Yourself"
  • Date of birth (this is irrelevant and as I always say only mention when asked unless you believe you have some sort of age advantage)
  • Place of birth (there is no point of mentioning your village. It has nothing to do with your skill) 
  • Marital Status (again, this is irrelevant and like some other items in this section should be provided only if asked)
  • Never make negative (insulting) remarks about your current job or employer (bitterness is unattractive, always)
  • Do not complain about how hard it is to find a job (they already understand you need a job)
  • Do not give a history about your family and avoid bringing up personal issues (keep it professional, always)

Simple, isn't it? Now practice and Tell Me About Yourself! 

Feel free to leave a comment below if you need further help with this. 

All the best



  1. How do you manage to keep churning out quality posts back to back?

    Succinct and true!

    Cant wait for the next ...