How to answer the dreaded interview questions, “Tell me about yourself”.

Tell me about yourself can be daunting; but it doesn’t have to be.

“Tell me about yourself” should be the easiest interview question; as you are telling them all about you.  However, that is not the case. Interviewees fail this question 9 times out of 10; because they respond to this question by sharing personal information.

When asked this question, think rationally, provide information that is relevant to the position and one that favours you as the best candidate for the position.

I recommend the PAWS model as a useful method for answering classic question such as “Tell me about yourself.”  When an employer asks this question, the employer is looking for those aspects of your life that are relevant to the role, how you became interested in this particular field, what related experience you have, and courses have you taken.

The “PAWS” acronym stands for: Profile, Academic, Work, and Skills

Include all or as many of the four (in any order) to reinforce your fit for the job. As with any interview response, limit your answer to a maximum of ninety seconds.

The key reason the recruiter/hiring manager is asking this question is to get a sense of whether or not you truly understand which experiences, skills and abilities are relevant for the position you are interviewing for.

Here are some examples of what to discuss in each of the four areas:

Profile: Mention how you became interested in this field and perhaps point out any relevant volunteer work and/or community involvement, extracurricular activities in school, professional memberships, athletic endeavors and personal interests that further demonstrate your commitment to the field.

Academic: Talk about your education – degrees, diplomas, or certifications and other related training and professional development initiatives or courses that you participated in during or after school.

Work: Highlight paid or unpaid experience related to the role you are applying for.

Skills: Refer to specific technical skills that relate to the position or field (bookkeeping, accounting, Quickbooks) and relevant transferable skills – leadership skills, time management, customer service and problem-solving skills.

Remember you do not need to mention all four or provide your response in that particular order. Just what is relevant.

I stress, the interview is not about you; it is about the company you are interviewing with; so provide information to the interviewer that will be a value for them. When you share your answer; think about … “Is this going to solve their problem?”

By following what I have shared; practicing the key points and showing what value you bring, you can turn the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” question into a rock solid response that will tell the interviewer that you are the person for the job.

Picture credit: Tim Gouw


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