Tell me about yourself.

By Julailah Wahid

We’ve covered the ways to tackle the tricky question “What are your weaknesses?”

But if you ask me, the hardest thing to answer at a job interview is “Tell me about yourself".

Am I required to give the interviewer an extensive list of my skills and past achievements? Should I focus on selling myself, or just provide facts? Do I shed light on my obsession with blueberries and yogurt? How much does my potential employer want to know?

Although the question might sound like a casual interview opener, the interviewer isn’t exactly interested in knowing your personal details. Instead, your response should be akin to a one-minute elevator pitch, where you give a brief overview of your professional stance.

Here’s how you can describe yourself effectively at a job interview:

Step 1: Introduce your career history
Kick start your response by giving a concise one-sentence summary of your career and/or education history.

For instance, you could say, “After graduating from London University with a Bachelor’s degree in software engineering, I went on to work for several companies namely ABC Corporations and Built Enterprises.”

OR

“I am a software engineer with five years’ experience, two of which were spent at LOP Pte Ltd utilising Spring and iBatis technologies and three in specialty projects where I developed software for clients to help boost their competitiveness in the marketplace.”

Step 2: Recount a significant accomplishment
Next, talk about an achievement that you’re especially proud of, preferably one that can potentially grab the interviewer’s attention. Choose an accomplishment that can be explained or illustrated easily, and highlight the impact your contributions had on the company.

An example could be, “Previously, as an employee for a local events company, I learned that the company intended to install a high-technology facet and they were planning to seek external consultants for the project. Since I had done a similar installation at my last assignment, I outlined to the management how we could get the job done with in-house staff and successfully completed the project thereafter for approximately $60K less than it would have cost with external vendors.”

Step 3: Indicate your next career move
Lastly, state your desired career move in one to two sentences and ensure that you match it with the particular job position being sought.

You could end by saying, “For the next step in my career, I’d like to delve into more creative aspects of software engineering such as designing icons and web design templates. I’d also like to work in a department that focuses on security applications, where I can apply my team project management skills in managing members of a small, growing IT team.”

How else can you describe yourself at a job interview? Share with us in the comment box below!

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