You know yourself pretty well, so you would think it would be easy to answer the interview question: “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” But it’s far from simple to answer, especially as the interviewer will be looking for you to cover some key topics and show some important skills.
However, depending on the job you’re being interviewed for those skills and topics will vary.
Before we drill down to the specifics of answering the question in a marketing, HR or IT interview, here are a few general tips on how you can impress the interviewer with your answer:
1. Think ‘elevator pitch’
There will be all sorts of things you could tell an interviewer about yourself, but of course they won’t want to know everything. Keep it succinct. You will want to focus on your strengths and describe yourself positively.
The interviewer will want you to show how confidently and clearly you can communicate. By cutting out any waffling you’ll be demonstrating your ability to stay on topic and communicate effectively. You’ll also have more of a chance of engaging the interviewer as you’ll be offering interesting and relevant information throughout.
2. Have three main points ready before your interview
One of the big reasons why an interviewer asks the “tell me about yourself” interview question is so they can see what you proritise. By preparing three points to cover when asked the question, you’ll have had the opportunity to structure your answer.
List three to five of your top strengths and bulk out your three points from there. Focus on your career history, accomplishments and where you see yourself going. This will give the interviewer a sense of your ambition.
Bonus tip: Don’t simply regurgitate your CV! Expand on points, work in new details and tell a story that shows how you’ve reached where you are today.
3. Recognise the question in different formats
Some interviewers will take a more unconventional approach and change their questions slightly to see how well the candidate responds and adapts. They may not ask the very straight forward “tell me about yourself” interview question. Instead they may ask:
- “Can you talk me through your CV?” This will inevitably add more structure to your answer, however, be cautious not to just regurgitate your CV. Instead, focus on the points you listed in our previous point and explain how they tie into your CV. Remember to keep it brief, it can take a surprisingly long time to go through your CV in full so stick to what’s important.
- “Tell me something about you that’s not on your CV”: This question is effectively turning the last one on it’s head, but the three points that you’ve prepared for the “tell me about yourself” interview question will still stand if you’ve chosen them wisely.
- “What do you like to do in your spare time?” Now, this question is slightly different and will eliminate your career history to some extent. The focus is now on you, as a person, outside of work. They want to get to know more about your soft skills so go through some hobbies and interests that will show off skills that the employer wants to see.
4. Remember who you’re talking to
You’re talking to an interviewer, so always keep your answer professional and whenever possible tie it into the job you’re applying for. Focus on skills that are required for the job and, if you’ve done your company research, that the company wants in its employees.
So effectively, you’re not actually telling the employer about yourself – you’re telling them about their company too and why you’d fit in perfectly.
It’s obvious really – as we all know practice makes perfect. Practice your answer and your interview technique with your recruitment agency when you go for an initial meeting with them. Don’t be afraid of asking the recruiter for constructive criticism, they’re there to help!
Now we’ve got the basics out of the way, here’s a break down on some ways you can tailor your answer for a marketing, HR or IT interview (three very different industries!).
How to answer: “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” in a marketing interview
- When telling the interviewer about yourself show off your creativity and feed in examples of how your work influences you outside of the office.
- Talk about campaigns that have been hugely successful and talk with a sense of passion about your work.
- Marketing demands thinking outside of the box, so why not demonstrate that in your answer?
- Our point about ‘telling a story’ is particularly important here too – a lot of marketing (particularly content marketing) is about telling a story to consumers or businesses, so why not tell a story about you?
- Do you write a blog? Participate in a reading group? Are you a CIM member? Now’s your chance to tell the interviewer!
How to answer: “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” in a HR interview
- HR is all about people, so incorporate them into your answer. Explain how your work impacted positively on people and how your communication and inter-personal skills are put into action outside of work.
- Being able to coherently, tactfully and concisely explain things is also an important element of HR. Format your answer to exhibit those skills.
- In HR you will often work with people of all different characters and walks of life. Through your answer demonstrate how you interact with a variety of people on a day-to-day basis.
How to answer: “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” in an IT interview
- Tell a story about how technology has always interested you or explain to the interviewer how you first became interested in IT. Going back to show a history with technology will also give you the opportunity to show how you’ve adapted to changes and moved with the times.
- Explain how your previous work made a positive impact from a business perspective – remember the bigger picture.
- Look beyond your immediate IT skills too and incorporate skills such as teamwork and customer service. Don’t forget the value of being able to communicate ideas and solutions in an easy to understand way.
Hopefully these tips will help you tackle the question “tell me about yourself” in a structured and effective way – just remember to be yourself and be confident in your ideas. What other interview questions do you find difficult to answer? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help!
We’re always looking for marketing, HR and IT professionals to join our clients’ businesses. If you think you have the right attributes, send us your CV today and start your job search with Anne Corder Recruitment.