How to Approach the "Tell me about Yourself" Question in an interview?

28th Jan 2019
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A significant amount of interviews will start with an introductory question that allows you to give an overview of your career – the tell me about yourself question. It is a lovely question where you have total control. However it is one that candidates struggle with, it is so open and general they often don’t know what to say.

This question can take many forms. It might be as simple as “tell me about yourself”, it might be “tell me about your experience to date” or even “just bring me through your CV”.

Regardless of how it is phrased, this is a question that gives you a golden opportunity to start the interview with impact and make a strong first impression. It’s an open goal.

Don’t let the opportunity go to waste. Have a concise, structure and practised answer that is tailored to the job you’re applying for.

The answer needs to give a clear overview of your work and educational experience to date. It must be heavy on specific achievements and outcomes. And it must be relevant to the needs of the employer.

Think of the answer as containing five key steps.

An introductory line that sums up the breadth of your experience in one sentence

If you only had one sentence to explain your career to date what would it be? Ideally, it should contain the number of years’ experience you have and the breadth of departments/sectors/roles you’ve worked in.

Your most recent/relevant role

Don’t approach the question in a chronological fashion. You have about 30 seconds to really grab the employers attention. If you start with your first role and work upwards you will waste that time detailing experience that is no longer relevant.

Start with your current role

Give the scale of the role in terms of staff reporting to you, level of responsibilities, budget controlled etc.

Then list briefly the three to four key achievements you’ve had in the position. The essential projects you’ve been involved with. The key outcomes you’ve achieved. They should be specific, concise and objective.

Your next most recent role and any subsequent relevant experience

Then detail the remainder of your experience following a condensed version of the structure above. But make sure that every line is relevant to the role you are applying for.

Educational Experience

Then all together in one section give a bullet-pointed overview of your educational background. The course studied, the college attended and the major results and projects will suffice.

Tie it all together

You need to end the answer by telling them why you are in front of them and why your experience is relevant to the role. Give a future focus to your answer and do the thinking for them. Detail, briefly, why you feel your career achievements and educational background makes you a strong candidate for the role or promotion.

You should be able to deliver all of that in under two minutes. And you should have this answer practice, verbally, several times before the interview. You need to be able to deliver it with impact. You might not be lucky enough to be asked the question but if you are, you need to nail it.

For more tips on how to approach certain interview section see our Advice section.

The above tips really only scratch the surface of what you need to prepare for an interview. The Communications Clinic offers tailored one to one job interview preparation sessions to help you get over the line and secure the job you want. We put you through an interview, record it, assess it and make you better.

If you call us on 01 644 9700 or email us on and mention you read the above article we can book you in for an Interview Session for a reduced fee.