Tell me about yourself? Tips on describing yourself in an interview.
Tell Me About Yourself (TMAY) – The dreaded but inevitable question at any interview. The one where you em and eh and start telling them about your life to date – including sisters, brothers, girlfriends, boyfriends, what you had for breakfast…..
No, this is not what they want to hear, they don’t really mean to show an interest in you and your interests – they want to know how you can be good for their company. It is a guaranteed question and one which will have a different answer in every interview. Why? Because each job spec is different and every time you ‘tell someone about yourself’ you are actually applying for the job in question. It is not a generalisation of your life but a very specific resume of what you have done in the past that will help this company in the future.
So, as you research the company for your interview preparation, you must also prepare your TMAY, your unique selling point, your Elevator Speech – imagine yourself in an elevator with the CEO of the company and you have until the ground floor to sell yourself – what would you say?
It takes time to get it right and a maximum of 3 minutes is really as long as you should speak for. So, it is a brief summary of your life to date and how the skills you have learned along the way fit in with this company. You can touch on education but only the most recent. Outside interests are equally as important as work experience. Sport displays team work, captaining a team shows leadership skills, being a member of a drama groups displays confidence and an ability to communicate, voluntary work shows empathy and the ability to do something for nothing, helping with children shows patience and flexibility – all examples of how the interviewer is not just interested in your last work placement but also your life skills.
Practice it out loud, practice it in front of your mother – who will tell you how fantastic you are and why wouldn’t they want you and then practice it in front of someone a little more critical! You may feel foolish to begin with but very grateful when you get in to the interview and they ask you……TMAY.
Remember – do not sound too polished and rehearsed, try and sound spontaneous as though you never imagined they would ask such a question!
Sound enthusiastic and not like someone repeating something by rote
Refer to both work and social experiences
Match your skills with what the interviewer will be looking for
Tailor your TMAY to suit the company and specific position they are looking to fill
Start with your earliest childhood memory
Badmouth past employers
Tell them your name – that much they do know
Say ‘as you can see from my CV’
Helen Murphy is a Consultant with extensive experience in H. R. 15 years in the hospitality industry has given Helen the insight and experience into what is expected of employees. Giving practical and useful advice on CVs, interview preparation and customer service skills are her specialities. She has worked with undergraduates and postgraduates in several 3rd level institutions. Helen also currently works with entrepreneurs in Start Your Own Business Programmes.