Have you ever wondered why an employer wanted to ask you this question in an interview?
“So, what can you tell me about yourself?” You find yourself at a loss for words.
This question seems out of place doesn’t it? Instead of the employer asking about your job experience and skills, they begin with that question. Do they mean your personal life? Are they trying to catch you into saying something wrong here?
It really is not a trick question but new hires get tripped up by this all the time. Most think that this question is just random or a tactic to ease the tension in the interview. They really believe that this is not important at all. However, this is arguably the most important question that all employers will ask you.
Turn Your Thinking Around
Think of it like this: Instead of hearing the question as “What can you tell me about yourself?” instead think “What can you tell me about yourself so that I can know that I’ve made the right decision in hiring you.” That is ultimately what the employer is saying.
The employer wants to make sure that they are satisfied with you. You want to put them at ease. You want to reassure them that you are the right person for the job. Employers spend thousands of dollars hiring people so they want to make sure that they didn’t make a mistake with you.
When they ask you this question, it is your time to shine. The employer is the judge and you are the contestant. Make sure to “Wow” them with your response. Show them your talents but make sure your talents line up with their needs.
Your answer will be a mixture about your personal life and your job experience. When sharing about your personal life, make sure you don’t share too much and make sure it is appropriate.
How to answer This Question
When they ask you “What can you tell me about yourself?”, your response is related to the job title that you are applying for. You can tell them about some of your personal life as long as it is relevant.
For example, when applying for a position in the healthcare field: Well, my passion is to help people and I enjoy assisting others in need of help. I have experience working in retail and in customer service and after witnessing all the wonderful people that work in the healthcare field when I had a sick relative, I have an understanding of what it takes to care for someone’s loved one. Based on my hospitality skills and my passion to help, I know that I would be an asset to your organization.
Here is someone applying to a restaurant that has a job description of “Cook.” The description includes “Cooking quality food in a timely manner for customers, a great team player in the kitchen, and is eager to learn exciting new recipes and meals.” Let’s take a look at a less than stellar response to “Tell me about yourself”:
“Well, I’ve enjoyed cooking. As a matter of fact, I’m currently a home cook. I just wanted to work in a restaurant because I wanted to give this a try.”
Ouch. This does not bring any reassurance to the employer and there is little connection with this new hire’s personality and experience to the job description. Even if you have little to no experience with the job you can still find some way to weave that into your answer. Let’s fix that statement:
“Well, I have been cooking as a hobby but now I want to make it much more than that. I’ve been using my cooking skills for local and community events. I also volunteered at food banks. I shadowed other restaurant chefs to see what their day-to-day responsibilities were. I really admire the work you do here at this restaurant and I want to be a part of it. I’m eager to experience new ways to cook meals. I love working with other cooks to make a quality product and I believe my skills will help benefit your team.”
That was better. See how you can connect your personality and job experience to the job description?
Now that you have some kind of idea of what to expect for when that question comes up, practice answering it. To do that, rehearse the question out loud. You can practice on yourself in a mirror, checking your facial expression, or speaking to a recorder and have it play it back to you.
If you don’t like the way you sound, revise and improve your statement. Try it again. Ask a friend or relative to listen to you as you present your answer and have them give you honest feedback until you are comfortable with your answer.
You always want to make sure that your future boss is comfortable hiring you. Whenever you hear this question, it’s to your benefit to answer it enthusiastically and confidentially.