It's a very common interview question...tell me about yourself?
What you need to focus your reply on is what you’ve done that is relevant to the field you are applying for.
This question isn’t about your free time, how many cats you own, or that you are the captain of your bowling team. The question is about the job, and the skills and experience that you have that are relevant to that job. When you're answering this question, you should use the acronym EES, which stands for:
E = Education
E = Employment
S = Skills
This allows you to take a structured approach to your interview. We all know that there are many distractions when it comes to an interview, whether it’s nervousness which leads to loss of track of thought, or something else. By using EES this allows you to stay focused when it’s most important, and approach things more effectively.
Let's look at an example of a poor response to when asked “Tell me about yourself”
“I live at home with my girlfriend, I’ve just finished university I did really well, and now I’m looking for a job. Previously I’ve done work experience in a museum, I’ve also completed a couple professional courses, and I enjoy playing football and tennis in my spare time.”
The reasons this response is weak are that it's too general, it doesn't tell the recruiter anything, provide any information on the candidate's education or experience. It shows a general lack of knowledge of the vacant position, which might not be accurate but it appears this way because no relevance was created.
A good response would be along these lines:
“During my time at university I studied business and information technology. I obtained my master's degree, after which I studied for my marketing degree and an international business qualification. I received awards for having the highest grades in the university, while being employed at a major cell phone company retailer.
During my time there, I developed personal skills that allow me to work more effectively with customers in a fast-paced environment. My biggest strength is my ability to communicate, by listening effectively to the needs of my customers to ensure they have the right product to solve their problems. My second strength is my ability to sell and hit targets. I enjoy working under pressure, learning about new products, setting and reaching goals. During my three years at the company I never lost one customer, an accomplishment I am very proud of. This is why I feel I would be an asset to your team with my experience and education."
When you present yourself this way, you
The bottom line is: keep it simple, focus on what makes you a good fit. Let them know what is relevant to the position you are applying for in terms of the skills, education, and abilities you possess.
Practice this question and the answer you want to give in front of a mirror, to build up confidence in yourself and your ability to present yourself well.