Tell us about yourself

This is one one of the most commonly used statements in any interview.

I have been asked this ‘question’ and I know I have asked quite a number of candidates the same. Many people find this ‘question’ offensive and unnecessary, while others argue, ‘if you already got my CV, what else do you need me to tell you about myself?’ On the other hand, from my own experience, the kind of responses I have received at times regarding this question have left me flabbergasted. There was an incident I recall a candidate responding, ‘I’m a very cool guy, easy going, very nice…. just a cool guy’ and I just sat there thinking to myself, ‘really???’

As a HR practitioner and an interviewer, I believe that this is one of the most important questions in any interview. Actually, it summarizes the entire interview questions, in my opinion. As a candidate, it is an opportunity to market yourself to the potential employer. We tend to make a mistake when we begin to recite our entire CV in response to this ‘question’. In reality, this is an opportunity, to say in your own words, and as much as possible in summary, who you are and what you have done before in relation to the position you are applying for or otherwise, and why you believe you should be hired by this potential employer. I am aware of candidates who have the best CVs in paper, but when it comes to the actual work, they are not even half as good as their CV. I’m also aware of candidates with not so good written CVs but are very hands on when it comes to the real work. Kindly note that I’m not trying to undermine the importance of having a presentable CV, after all, it is your first contact with a potential employer. However, one most important thing to note is that your CV will not do the job, you will.

You need to therefore share with this potential employer a brief of your academic history, prior work experience, with special emphasis on any work done and achievements made in relation to the position you are seeking to be hired for. This is your opportunity to convince this panel that whatever they are seeking is not new to you, that you have done it before successfully and if hired you wish to share your experience with them and do even much more to achieve their set objectives. Try as much as possible to avoid getting personal when answering this. Your private life should remain just that, focus on the job.

The next time then that you are invited for an interview and this question comes up, don’t roll your eyes and think, ‘are they even serious?’. Change the game plan, use this to your advantage. When your are done ‘telling them about you’, they will be left wondering what other question to ask you.


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