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How to Answer the ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Interview Question [Ireland]

ell me about yourself job interview question Ireland

A job interview is always nerve wracking, but many prospective job candidates feel particularly concerned about answering an open ended question such as “tell me about yourself”. What is the hiring manager hoping to hear? Should you recount your entire life story, or somehow twist the question to make it relevant to this particular job? Should you ignore your personal life or should you assume that this question is small talk designed to open up the conversation?

When you’re preparing for interview questions, it’s hardest to be ready for open ended questions. However, at CareerWise, we are experts in all things employment. From knowing the best answers for the toughest interview questions, to helping you progress your career from your current position, we can help you navigate the rocky world of work and create a professional portfolio to be proud of.

Here is our guide for how to answer the “tell me about yourself” interview question.


Why do employers ask you to tell them about yourself?

While the job description and your subsequent application will have assured hiring managers that you have the necessary qualifications for the role, an important part of the recruitment process is ensuring that you’ll be a good fit for the company culture.

The best candidate for a job will be the person with not only the essential technical skills, but someone whose positive attitude and soft skills will enable them to work effectively with future colleagues.

The job interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself in order to gain insight into you as a person. They will be observing your personality traits and your confidence as you are talking.


What similar interview question might hiring managers ask?

There are many variations on the theme of the “tell me about yourself” interview question. Similar posers include, “how would you describe yourself?”, “tell us about you”, and “tell me something interesting about yourself”.

All of these open ended questions could easily trip you up. But with a little preparation, they can also become a great opportunity to demonstrate that you are the perfect candidate for the job.


How can you prepare for the “tell me about yourself” interview question?

Although it might seem hard, you can prepare for this kind of question by rehearsing a simple formula. Expect to need to tell a great story about yourself, in around two minutes, and give yourself a short script as a foundation for the conversation.

It can be useful to think about anecdotes from your career that illustrate high points and key accomplishments whilst providing additional interest. Some people like to give themselves more structure, beginning with your current job, skipping back through your professional history, and then forward to what you hope to achieve in your future career.


Key things to include in your answer

Whatever basic structure you decide to graft your answer on to, there are several key points which you must make sure you cover.

  • Relate whatever you say to the role you are interviewing for

It would be a mistake to ramble off into personal interests, or to try and create a one-size-fits-all answer that doesn’t engage specifically with this new company.

Instead, go back and re-read the job description. Identify stories from your previous experience that demonstrate that you have the specific skills required. Aim to draw primarily from your current role and recent experience – however, it’s worth mentioning other assets such as volunteer work if it highlights your suitability for the position.

  • Be specific

A concrete example makes a good story much more effective. Try and mention key takeaways that will stick in the interviewer’s mind – statistics and figures, rather than just general comments.

They will know from your CV that you have a bachelor’s degree or that you are a qualified software engineer. But will they know that, despite being a recent graduate you have improved efficiency in your current role by 20%?

Different industries will of course require slightly differing approaches, but the vital point is to engage your interviewer by giving solid examples of your skills.

  • Be polite and engaging

Whatever your planned response to the interview question, you can give your answer the best chance of going down well by remaining courteous throughout the interview.

Be sure not to avoid eye contact with the interviewer, as this will make you appear untrustworthy. Show that you are genuinely interested in this new job, listen attentively, and try not to ramble when you deliver your answer.

  • Explain inconsistencies

However fantastic your CV, if there are inconsistencies, the “tell me about yourself” question is a good chance to address them.

For instance, if you are applying for a job that is a less senior position to your current position, you need to be ready to explain why you appear to be seeking demotion. Your interviewer could assume you lack ambition, or you are lazy, or you aren’t up to the rigours of a high pressure role. Tackle these problematic conclusions head on, by preparing an answer that makes clear why you want this job.

  • Break the ice

Although you shouldn’t go into personal details, you should use this kind of open ended question to give a better sense of yourself as a person. So perhaps highlight any relevant hobbies – maybe you are an avid reader interested in the overall mission of this company; or your academic career began with a passion for computer science that led to your career.


What not to say when responding to the question “tell me about yourself” in a job interview

Even if you feel thrown by this kind of question in an interview, at least if you remember what to avoid talking about, you can steer clear of disaster.

  • Avoid personal information

Don’t start talking about your personal life, marital status, children or political views. It will look unprofessional and most likely make the interviewer uncomfortable.

  • Don’t ramble

The danger of rambling is real if you haven’t prepared for this kind of question. Bear in mind that you should stick to two or three examples which highlight relevant skills, and make the information you impart as concrete as possible.

  • Don’t list your CV

The interviewer already has this information, and their time is valuable. You need to keep them interested by answering with fresh material that adds value to your application.


Are you preparing for a job interview or career change?

If you need help planning your next career move, call CareerWise today. Our specialist recruitment service can guide you from job search to interview process, through sample answers for a tough interview question and important tips for prospective candidates.

CareerWise are Ireland’s top specialist recruitment firm. Get in touch today.




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