Be it for a job or an internship, one of the most commonly asked questions in an interview is ‘tell me something about yourself.’ It is one of the most frequently used methods to get a conversation started. Other ways a recruiter can pose such a question could be ‘walk me through your resume,’ ‘how would you describe yourself,’ or ‘tell me something about yourself that is not on your resume.’
While the question may sound easy, it is quite daunting for people to answer it correctly. Often, people fail to describe themselves in the manner expected by employers, affecting their chances of getting hired. And then, people wonder what went wrong, even though they had all the skills required for a particular job.
There is no need to worry anymore because, in this article, we will be looking at ways to ace a ‘tell me something about yourself‘ question and succeed at job interviews.
A Guide to Describing Yourself to Employers
When an interviewer asks you to describe yourself, they want you to express any skills or experiences they believe would be relevant to the position they are hiring. Hence, narrating a story about how you won a debate competition in high school or mentioning details such as marital status and family background are irrelevant.
Let us take a look at two ‘tell me about yourself examples’ below to help you answer and tell me something about yourself.
Example 1: “Hi. My name is Richa. I worked as a Sales Executive at XYZ Limited. I am from Kolkata; however, I shifted to Mumbai due to my husband’s job transfer. Right now, I am looking for roles in the domain of sales. My hobbies include reading and listening to music.”
Example 2: “Hello. My name is Richa. I am originally from Kolkata but now settled in Mumbai. Previously, I have worked as a Sales Executive at XYZ Limited. My biggest sale so far was closing a three-year deal with ABC Cosmetics. Relationship building was crucial to this deal, as well as providing demos of the product we were selling, which decreased the client time and improved productivity.
As an individual, I enjoy building personal connections with clients; however, the area where I shine provides attention to detail. I tend to spend a lot of time with new products, which helps me address the concerns of a customer fluently, explaining features that may not be visible.
My goal is to improve my selling and leadership skills in the long-term, helping me take up managerial responsibilities in the future. Hence, I look forward to working in a sales-driven company as that of yours.”
Can you observe the difference between the two? Tell me about yourself, examples?
In the first tell me about yourself example, the interviewee went on to provide details on her personal life, such as marital status and hobbies, which were not relevant to the position she had applied for. Besides, the interviewee did not even mention why she had used it for the job in the first place, what she wanted to gain from it, and the skill sets and experience she would bring to the table.
Now, look at the second. Tell me something about yourself. In the example, the interviewee has managed to ace the tell me something about yourself question. Not only has she explained what role she worked in, but she also mentioned her achievements, strengths, how they would help her succeed in her chosen domain, and what she plans to achieve in the long term. Moreover, the interviewee also explains how the organisation she wants to work at would help fulfill her goals.
Who do you think would get the job then? If you guessed the second,
While there are several tell me about yourself examples on the Internet, you must know how to draft your answer to the question. Many times, interviewees miss out or are unable to recall important details or information that may be deemed relevant to their position. Therefore, here are some tips to help you prepare whenever a prospective employer asks you to describe yourself.
- Prepare a Pitch
In an interview, a question of ‘tell me something about yourself’ is inevitable. As you rehearse for your interview, make sure that you have a pitch ready. While you need not memorize it word by word, the tone can help you answer the question without any hesitation. Hence, make sure that you include essential points such as relevant experiences for the job at hand, strengths and skill sets necessary to the post you have applied to, your plans, and how the job or organisation will help you accomplish your goals.
- Quantify your Achievements
Whenever you mention your achievements, make sure you quantify it in terms of time, money, or people. For instance, if you worked as a content writer, instead of saying “My article on the financial crisis was well-received,” you can instead mention, “My article on ‘The Financial Crisis in India’ was well-received by readers, and I made to the list of the ‘Top 100 Most Read Writers in 2020′”.
Similarly, if you worked as a sales representative earlier, you can describe your achievement as, “During my time as a sales representative for JKL Corporation, I helped the company achieve its target of selling 1 lakh smartphones and earning a profit of Rs. 2 crores”, rather than just saying, “During my time as a sales representative for JKL Corporation, I helped the company sell many smartphones and earn profits.”
After drafting a script for a ‘tell me something about yourself’ question, practice until you feel confident. Rehearse your writing several times until you feel confident about speaking in front of people. Practicing will help you avoid nervousness during an interview and help you remember the important details you wish to emphasize. However, it is essential to note that when you speak, your speech should come out naturally. It should not feel forced or robotic.
To help you prepare to tell me something about yourself type of questions, the STAR method always works. The acronym ‘STAR’ stands for
Let us try and understand how the STAR method works.
S – ‘S’ stands for the situation. Try to find a few examples from your previous job that would help explain your achievements or describe how you overcame any challenges. Such answers would help illustrate your experiences and the goals that you have accomplished and highlight your strengths.
T- The letter ‘T’ stands for the task. In this, you should mention the functions or the roles that you were assigned to your previous workplace. For instance, if an employer asks you what work did you do as a social media manager, you can mention that “As a social media manager, my task was to increase the number of our followers on Instagram by 50%.”
A- ‘A’ stands for action. While it is essential to describe your achievements, do not forget to mention what steps you took to achieve your goals. If you said that your role was to increase the number of followers on Instagram by 50% at your previous workplace, describe how you did it. You can start by saying, “To increase our followers by 50%, I started researching relevant pages on Instagram, tagging them in our posts, using relevant hashtags, and increasing our posts’ frequency.”
R- The letter ‘R’ stands for the result. While narrating your achievements, do not forget to state what the outcome was. Thus, if you said that your task was to increase Instagram followers by 50%, mention as follows, “From a following of 500, I was able to improve the number of followers to 1000, which was more than what was expected.”
Must Read: Digital Marketing Interview Questions
Do’s and Don’ts
We have now looked at quite a few tell me about yourself examples. We have also looked at tips to prepare a pitch for such questions. Now, we will pay attention to some dos and don’t keep in mind.
- State your qualities and strengths that you believe would make you a suitable candidate
- Mention why you are interested in the role, the organisation, and how it would help you achieve your career goals
- Mention any past achievements at your previous workplace or university, which you think would help you succeed. Do not forget to mention examples.
- If you are transitioning to a more senior role or a different industry altogether, explain how you are taking on more responsibilities in your current job.
- Avoid stating personal details such as marital status, family background, children, and so on.
- Steer away from controversial topics such as politics and religious affiliations, as they can affect your candidature
- Don’t list strengths or hobbies which may not be useful for the job you want. Instead, mention only those qualities which you think would be relevant to the role.
- Do not summarise your resume. The interviewer is looking for who you are as an individual, which is not reflected on your resume. Describe things which are not on your resume
- Do not exceed more than 2 minutes. Try and answer the question in less than 2 minutes.
Well, these are just a few examples to help show you how you should carefully frame your answer to the “Tell me about yourself”.
Remember, there’s no “correct” way to crack an interview. The trick to nailing the answer is to understand what the employer is looking for in a candidate and sell that in a way that best compliments your Resume and personality. Be confident, be true to what you are, and your career goals, and the answer will follow.