How to answer TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF interview question

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Aug 24, 2018


How to answer TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF interview question
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  • So you sent off your CV and your covering letter for that dream job and they're
  • impressed! You're called to the interview they welcome you, you shake hands and
  • they ask you the first question "Tell me about yourself?"
  • what do you do? what do you say? where do you begin?
  • well this question will be asked at almost every interview and let me tell
  • you that this is a trick question they are NOT asking you to tell you about
  • yourself. To find out why stay tuned
  • Hello and welcome to LetThemTalk and today we're going to look at how to
  • answer the interview question tell me about yourself we've got some general
  • tips and if English is not your first language we'll look at how you can
  • approach it if you're not so confident about your English level. As I said
  • at the beginning this is kind of a trick question they are not asking you to tell
  • them your life story and they're not asking you to talk, in detail, about your
  • professional and educational experience and background why should they do that
  • they got your CV they've read your covering letter, they know all there is
  • to know, so why should they ask this question? What they want to know is if
  • you possess the art of communication can you engage? can you keep them interested?
  • can you tell a story? the question beneath the question is we know you have
  • got what it takes to do the job on paper but let's see what you're like as a
  • candidate. And this is your chance to make a good first impression so
  • let's look at how to answer the question. Rule number one: Keep it brief. Very
  • important keep it brief one,two, three minutes should be enough I would say
  • five minutes is too long ten minutes way too long you could
  • probably say goodbye to the job don't tell your life story, you don't get any
  • points for giving a long answer and you risk alienating the interviewers you do
  • not need to talk about everything on your CV this is just the first question
  • and if you forget something, if you get something important, it doesn't matter
  • you can discuss it later in the interview. Your answer should pique
  • curiosity and the interviewer should be thinking "I want to know more" and not
  • "I already know too much". So what's the content of your answer you should
  • basically tell them a story about your professional background and educational
  • background if it relates to the current position. now you should mention some of
  • these things: so start by giving some adjectives to describe yourself,
  • especially ones that are relevant to the job you're seeking say something about
  • how you started you could mention an accomplishment you could talk about your
  • motivation tell them a story of how you changed something or made a difference in
  • your previous job or at university tell them what you can do for them and what
  • you want for the future and why you're best suited for the job. So you
  • can cover some of those points that'll be great and finally give some
  • personal detail to add colour or to show that you are and all rounded individual
  • and your life doesn't revolve exclusively around work but this should
  • be very brief, very brief just a few words. I know that some recruitment
  • advisors say that you shouldn't say anything personal when answering this
  • question but personally I think it's good to show that you have a life
  • outside of work and if one of your interviews shares the same interest it
  • can help you bond. but as I said keep it very short so that's essentially the
  • WHAT but HOW you tell it is much, much more important as I said the question is
  • a challenge to you to engage with them and to connect with them on an emotional level.
  • Often the words you use are less
  • important than how you say them so remember rule number one: maintain good
  • eye contact throughout. This seems obvious but I've seen so many
  • candidates who don't look you in the eye and it's quite disengaging. Have a good
  • tone of voice with nice rolling intonation not flat so that you sound
  • like a robot. When you get passionate raise your voice a little
  • don't shout though. You can speed up, you can slow down, you can use hand gestures.
  • personally I like that some people sit with their hands on their lap but I
  • think it's good to look a little animated and speak informally your
  • covering letter and your CV is probably written in formal English but when you
  • speak make it sound more conversational if it sounds too formal you can sound
  • distant and unapproachable and for the same reason don't memorize your answer
  • learn the key points, yes, but let the words come out naturally and leave room
  • for spontaneity. If English is not your first language you might be worried
  • about your grammar mistakes well certainly you shouldn't be. First of all,
  • the interviewers are not grammar teachers (unless of course you're going
  • for a job as an English language teacher and that's a different story) I assure
  • you that they won't notice any small grammar mistakes they want to
  • know that you can communicate in English. You can have perfect grammar and be a
  • bad communicator and you can have not good grammar and be a great communicator
  • and that's what they want and, as I said, the words you use are much less
  • important than the way you communicate and the story you tell. So even if your
  • level of English is not that great you can answer this question and it will put
  • you in a good position for the rest of the interview.
  • OK I've talked enough about this so let me just finish by giving an example
  • so imagine I'm a project manager at an interview for a new job so "Tell me
  • about yourself" I would describe myself as someone who is versatile and
  • determined and someone who loves learning. I'm creative, open-minded and
  • easygoing and I enjoy working with others and I try to use all these
  • qualities in my professional life for the last six years I've been working at
  • XYZ company I started out at the help desk where I worked closely with clients
  • and I built some good relationships. After that I did a number of roles in
  • the company and have been promoted several times now for the last three
  • years I've been working as a project manager. The company has been pretty
  • successful and I'd like to think that I contributed to that success my team has
  • been developing accounting software for the publishing industry and within two
  • years we came from nowhere to being the number one product in the field. And you
  • know actually I wasn't looking for a new job
  • I'm quite happy where I am and I kind of came across your job ad by accident but it
  • really captivated my imagination your company is renowned for being one of the
  • most innovative in the sector. And I know this is a more
  • senior than my current position but I do have the skills and the experience and
  • the passion you need and I do believe I can make a positive impact and that's
  • why I'm here today. So in a nutshell that's who I am professionally and when
  • I'm not working I like to go hiking at weekends and I like reading books.
  • OK that's it I hope you found that useful and if you have any tips of your own
  • about how to answer this question do put them in the comments and good luck with
  • the interview stay mellow and I'll see you next time.

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Learn how to prepare for the job interview question "tell me about yourself" with these top tips.

The TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF question is often the first to be asked at an interview and you need to get the answer right in order to give a good impression right from the start. We've got some general tips and if English is not your first language then we have some advice as to how to answer to make the most of your English level (even if it's not fantastic).

Check out our playlist on how to get a job from A to Z

Your host is Gideon CEO of LetThemTalk in Paris and formerly an IT consultant in London.

Intermediate and advanced English lessons with subtitles on our youtube channel. Brought to you by LetThemTalk language school in Paris.

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