Tell Me About Yourself: Using Your Skills to Share Your Story

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By Posted 12mth(s) ago Reading Time: About 5 minutes

Every interview starts with the famous question: Tell me about yourself. How do you answer this succinctly and capture the interviewer’s attention?

‘Can you tell me more about yourself?’

Every interviewer starts with this question to understand your professional story. This self introduction is essentially a teaser. However, this is not any ordinary story but one that is crafted to make you a desirable candidate for a role.

Your professional story is contingent on your skillsets. Being able to perform a role requires a set of competencies, be they interpersonal skills or technical expertise. These are largely honed in your work and academic experiences. You need to put together your skillsets for the story and position yourself as the right person for the job. Blindly compiling a self introduction that covers every aspect of your professional life will not interest your interviewers.

To answer a ‘Tell me about yourself’ question, therefore, needs planning.

Steps to answering ‘Tell me about yourself’

As you brainstorm on how to answer the question, ask yourself the following:

1. What skills do I possess?

  • Based on your industry, you can map out a personal skills chart with both soft and hard skills.- Soft skills: Communication skills; networking and interpersonal skills; critical thinking skills etc- Hard skills: Technical skills involving the use of software, instruments, machines and the equivalent

2. Do I have the skills required for the position I am applying for?

  • Analyse the job description of the role and extract keywords and phrases that indicate the skills employers are looking out for. Some descriptions clearly state the competencies required – i.e. ‘A team player with good interpersonal skills’. In others, you would need to extrapolate. The following line from a job description is a good example:‘Act as a single point of contact for all regional stakeholders on questions pertaining to technical solutions, and maintain positive working relationships.’Being the “single point of contact” requires one to have good communication skills to relay information to all stakeholders clearly. To “maintain positive working relationships”, one needs sharp interpersonal skills. The example also indicates that understanding of “technical solutions” is required, so having some knowledge of the technical aspects of the job will be useful.
  • Once you know the required skillsets, match them to your own. This is at the heart of your storytelling.Use relevant examples from your current and past roles to support your skillsets and incorporate the vocabulary used in the job description. Taking off from the previous example, part of your self introduction can look like this:‘In my current role, I manage a team of sales representatives to address all queries on business solutions requested by our stakeholders. Since we are the main point of contact, engaging with the stakeholders is a crucial part of my job – it is important to maintain effective communication with them and build positive relationships.’
  • Ideally, you want the interviewer to remember that you have strong competencies that are valuable to the role and the company.What makes a good response to a ‘Tell me about yourself’ question is thus its ability to position yourself as the skilled professional they need for the role.

Structuring your response

Knowing how to answer a ‘Tell me about yourself’ question succinctly requires a good structure: past, present and future. You can start by sharing a brief but relevant part of your job history [past] and how it led you to your current role [present]. This can be done vice versa too. You can then end off with how you intend to further your professional interests [future].

Sample of a response for a role in the field of business development:

‘I have been a sale representative at XX for the past seven years where I built my capabilities in business development strategies and maintaining strong relationships with various stakeholders, a crucial part of my job [past]. Currently, I oversee strategies to market our business solutions to regional stakeholders and most importantly, addressing specific queries about our technical solutions. Having already established good working relationships over the years allows me to convert and also retain these stakeholders as customers across the targetted regions [present]. What I truly enjoy in my career is being able to translate ideas to solutions for the people who need them, which is the essence of my job. I hope to take this experience further by working for markets on a global level, which makes me excited to take on this role [future].’

Some of the soft skills covered here include interpersonal skills and communication skills, alongside the ability to apply technical knowledge in the course of work.

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