How to answer; So tell me about yourself

More often these days, employers and recruiters are conducting “pre-interview” phone interviews. They don’t necessarily mean you get the job if you ace it, however, if it doesn’t go well, it could mean you’re automatically off the list for a follow up face-to-face interview. Here are a few things to consider before taking a phone interview.

Many interviews begin with the interviewer asking, “So, tell me about yourself.” This question is a way of easing you into the interview so that you relax a little.

It’s also a way of finding out how organised a person is in their thought process. Employers will be hoping to see some clarity around why a candidate is interested in working for the company and what they can bring to the company as an individual.

Prepare for this question by thinking about the way the organisation presents itself on its website. How does it approach things like career progression and corporate social responsibility? Ask yourself if you have something in common and then during the interview, explain the alignment of values.

Examples could include any volunteering experience, community activities, or even any time you’ve spent overseas where the company has a presence.

“I did volunteer work at _________ which I really enjoyed, and from what I have learned about _________, we share the same values.”

What to mention.

Start by linking your answer back to your CV. You could say, “I’ve got a couple of really interesting past experiences that I think are relevant to this position and I’ve outlined them in my CV, but let me just tell you a bit about myself in those roles.”

You could also include the top two or three descriptive words that align with your personality. You could say something like, “My three core values are honesty, integrity, and persistence. Avoid mentioning a long shopping list of all the wonderful things you think about yourself, your personality and style.

What to avoid.

Stick to professional topics and not delving in too deep to the personal. This conversation is about you as a candidate, not about your personal life.

Your interviewer might be interested in hearing a little about your family and background, but just at a high level. For instance their profession and perhaps values you have learned from them.

How much detail?

Spend no more than two or three minutes answering this question.

If you’re organised in your thought processes and you’ve figured out the links between your own experience and the values of the business. Any longer will create a perception that you have not understood the question

Finish confidently!

Consider ending your response by asking your interviewer if they have any questions about what you’ve just told them.

That would probably take a pretty brave interviewee, but I think it shows confidence and a certain clarity of thought. If you’re trying to differentiate yourself early on in the interview, this could be the point that does it for you.