The first question you may get in an interview is ‘Tell me about yourself?’ And most people dread it. 

Let me tell you, it’s not an invitation to recite your life story or work history in detail. It is, however, the perfect opportunity to pitch yourself to the hiring manager

A pitch is a concise speech given to persuade someone to buy something. And usually, that something is you! 

Usually, candidates say too much, too little or the wrong thing – which means they start their interview on the back foot. 

Even though this is called an ‘ice breaker question’ – it’s critical to get it right. It’s your elevator pitch and a great opportunity to tell the panel who you are as a professional and the key skills/experience you can bring to the team and the company to help them succeed. 

What makes a good elevator pitch in an interview? 

One elevator pitch formula to guarantee interview success is the Present-Past-Future pitch.
It’s super-easy. Just speak about yourself in this order:

  1. Present: Explain what you’ve been doing recently with yourself.
  2. Past: Describe your experiences, the work you’ve done and achievements.
  3. Future: Discuss why the role excites you and where you see yourself going with the company.

Remember, focus on your skills and experiences relevant to the role. Make it easy for the hiring manager to think about you in this role and the company.

And relax! People don’t bite! So tell some anecdotes or stories. The hiring manager wants to get to know you.

What you should be researching before stepping into an interview

  • Company Culture/Projects/Service Offering

You must understand what a company represents. Research the company website as well as LinkedIn, Youtube and other websites covering aspects of the company’s culture, key projects, clients and what they do – in detail. This will help you identify which examples/experience to use in your elevator pitch. 

  • Research the Interviewer

Make sure you research whom you’re to meet with. Check the person’s LinkedIn profile or the person’s profile on the company’s website (if they have one). Get an idea of the interviewer’s background, achievements and what type of person he or she might be. 

With information like this, you will be able to tailor your answer to ‘tell me about yourself’ to suit the interviewer’s background.

  • Study the job advertisement and position description

The job ad will provide you with the specific keywords that you need to use in your answer to ‘tell me about yourself’. If the job ad lists specific skills and experiences that the company wants, you must refer to these in your answer. Talk broadly about your experiences where you used these skills. 

How to Answer ‘Tell Me About Yourself’

The key to answering ‘tell me about yourself’ is in the order in which you answer the question.

Begin by thanking the interview panel and introduce yourself. Then, start with a power statement i.e. ‘As you know, my name’s Tim and I’m a Business Analyst with three years’ experience in requirements gathering, business cases, testing and documentation with technology companies including IBM’.

After this, provide a brief historical snapshot of what you have been doing throughout your career. Use reverse chronological order. Then finish with making known your enthusiasm for the position, including what you can bring to the role and company.

Tell Me About Yourself – For Example:

First of all, thank you for inviting me to today’s interview. As you know my name’s Shen, and I’m a Quality Assurance Officer with over 4 years’ experience in handling manufacturing operations, quality assurance and process improvement. I’ve also managed ISO accreditation, written procedures, conducted internal audits and ensured corrective and preventive actions are implemented on-site.

In terms of my background, after completing my Bachelor of Engineering, I started working as a Quality Analyst graduate at Utopia Engineering. I assisted with three major ISO9001 projects with the QA Manager and created several process improvement and quality improvement manuals.  

Following this, I worked as a QA & Compliance Coordinator with Brauhn Inspections for two years where I managed quality control for three manufacturing plants with over 45 heavy plant machines and over 200 staff. It was in this position that I helped steer the company to obtain ISO9001 certification which is my main area of expertise.

Currently, I’m working as a QA & Compliance Officer with Abstract Consulting in Melbourne and manage the entire QA process including documentation, process improvement, staff training and 15 compliance assessments a month across three sites. 

I’m keen to move into a QA Manager role which is why I applied for this position. I feel that the key deliverables of this position – most notably the ISO9001 certification and assessment are an area that I can confidently manage for the team. It looks like an exciting opportunity to continue leading quality assurance in the manufacturing sector and I’m really keen to learn more, thanks. 

Why This Approach Works So Well

This type of answer focuses on your skillset and experiences relevant to the role. The way you communicate the answer should also reveal what the interviewer is seeking in regards to how you fit the role. 

Each candidate is different. Don’t be afraid to add in your own examples and anecdotes relevant to the role. Though, most interviewers would ask you for examples of your achievements, skills and knowledge in relation to the role, regardless of this.

The interviewer already has your resume. So this opportunity is the perfect chance to explain to the interviewer who you are and why you would be a great fit for the company.
Be yourself, relax and smile! (Yes, smile even if it’s a phone interview!)

Need More Help With Answering ‘Tell Me About Yourself’?

We know how tough the Australian job market can be and how difficult this question can be.  If you need help developing your answer to the opening interview questions, please feel free to contact us.

We wish you all the best in your job search.
Careers Team, Career Success Australia