Glenford Smith | How To Answer The Interview Question: “Tell Me About Yourself

The most innocuous job interview question that may seem like an interviewer wants to settle you down and get to know you better is: Tell me about more about yourself.

This seems innocent enough, but you should be careful that you don’t go the way of the unwitting applicant.

If a candidate is not prepared and equipped to respond to the question, he or she could sound the death knell at the start of the interview. Treat this question with the seriousness it deserves, and learn how to answer it well. About 80 per cent of interviews begin with this question, so be prepared to answer it.

So how does one go about responding with confidence?

To the uninitiated, the question is an invitation to ramble on about themselves and, delve into some work history. In essence, they mouth off on the details given on their resume. This is the wrong track.

What the interviewer wants is information relevant to the position applied for. in other words to match your response to what the interviewer is looking for. In other words, sell what the buyer is buying. The interviewer couldn’t care less about you but may get excited when he hears something relevant to the company, which could possibly be helpful.

So before blurting out your answer to this, or any question, it’s imperative that you discover the interviewer’s pressing wants, needs, problems, or goals. Only then should you, with a targeted response to the interviewer’s question, attempt to answer.


Here is a two-part system for proceeding:

a. Before the interview, look up everything to uncover the interviewer’s wants and needs.

b. As early in the interview as is convenient, ask for a complete description of what the position entails.

Say something like: ‘I’d like to answer your question, but in order to make the best use of our time together and speak to your needs, I need your assistance. To help me do so, could you provide some details about the most important priorities of this position? All I know about the position is what I learned in the classifieds.’

Then sit and listen. Listen especially for the interviewer’s needs, goals, and wants.

Then follow with a second and then possibly a third question. You might ask simply, ‘And in addition to that?’ or ‘Is there anything else you see as essential to success in this position?’

Don’t worry that you’re asking too many questions. This calls for extreme confidence in yourself, especially in making the question sounds natural. If you practise the question in all its variations, you should not sound rehearsed.

Answer the question with a laser-like focus on the interviewer’s needs, wants, and goals.

By going to the interviewer’s needs and matching these with your own experience, you are speaking to the interviewer’s interest. Throughout the interview, keep coming back. match your knowledge and work experience with the needs of the interviewer.

Illustrate each answer with specific examples of responsibility and achievement, all the while matching the needs the interviewer has just described.

News by Jamaica Gleaner

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of ‘From Problems to Power’ and co-author of ‘Profile of Excellence’. [email protected]

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