"Tell me about yourself"

“Tell me about yourself”: a more powerful request than you might think

Job interviews are notorious for being frequently replete with hackneyed and hapless questions. However, there’s one stereotypical thing that you might ask a candidate to do, that can pack more of a punch than you first imagine.

That question is: “Tell me about yourself”. Many hiring managers start an interview with this grand question. However, some employers understandably wonder whether it’s a very useful one.

After all, in theory at least, your candidate will simply respond to such a request by listing the contents of their CV, and perhaps some inoffensive details about their non-work life and background. This might not seem great for determining how well the candidate would fit your vacancy, not least as you’ve presumably already looked through their job application.

The best candidates, however, will tend to give you a rather more insightful response to this question than a mere checklist. So, here some clues to watch out for that a given candidate is a promising one.


Consider whether the candidate is compatible with your firm – not just ‘your type’

It’s natural that a candidate will wish to endear themselves to you, which may mean they are careful not to give any obvious signs of being anything less than the best fit for the role. This could manifest in them spending a lot of interview time nodding or mirroring your language or mannerisms.

What you really need to get them to do, then, is talk about themselves, so that you can listen to what they have to say. The truly important thing isn’t whether they like doing the same things as you during their spare time. Instead, you need to get a sense of their level of engagement with your business and vacancy.

You therefore need to look out for signs that they will be compatible with your company, its values and culture, rather than merely ‘your type’. Listen carefully to how they talk about themselves, their background, family, money and work. When they start to go beyond the bare details of their CV, you will hopefully see whether a real connection exists between them and your company.


A question that can provide a great platform for a flexible interview

Using “Tell me about yourself” as the first question you ask of a candidate may enable you to gain insights around which the rest of the interview can be tailored. Sometimes, a rigid set of questions – decided before the interview – isn’t the best approach for ascertaining whether a candidate is the right fit for your organisation, instead of merely well-qualified on paper.

“Tell me about yourself” can therefore be a potent starting point for a very productive and flexible interview, from which you glean important lessons about the most suitable candidate for your open role. This does, of course, also depend on you having a good general idea of what you need from a candidate in the first place.


Could you do with appropriately tailored and informed guidance and assistance with your company’s online recruitment approach? If so, don’t hesitate to call the Webrecruit team today, on 01392 829 400, and we will discuss the solutions with you that could power your brand to hiring success.

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