What to tell about yourself in a job interivew

If you need to clearly communicate what you offer to an employer in a job interview this post is for you.

Learn how to answer the “Tell Us About Yourself” question with the proven Communication Framework, so you get your interview off to a very persuasive start. The persuasive start will leave you feeling more confident for the rest of the meeting.

If people get confused about what value you can add to the workplace and why you are the best candidate for this position, they will look past you.

Tell us about yourself is an opening question in a job interview. There are many ways to ask this question, for example:  “Can you introduce us to your qualifications?” or “Can you walk us through your background?” or bluntly: “What is your story?”

But no matter how this question is asked, what the interviewers are saying is “Why should we hire you (instead of other qualified candidates)?” What do you have that the other candidates don’t?

Many job seekers fear this question because – what do they want to know? But if you change the focus and ask yourself instead – What do I want them to know? This will change the game. 


The best way is to look at the workplace as a marketplace and think about yourself as a personal brand that you want to market. But: first, you need to create this unique brand and you do it by identifying what makes your brand stand out from the others. Then, after you identified these unique points for yourself, you need to craft a message to clearly articulate your unique value. Then you are ready to successfully market your brand at a job interview. 


Again, that means you know exactly what makes you stand out, and you can communicate the skills, expertise, and personal strengths that will make you valuable to the employer. 


Let’s plan how to do this. 


The first step is to take stock and go through everything you can offer to the employer. To make this process easier you can ask yourself some questions and I’ll talk about them later. But for now, let’s focus on the process: So write down everything you can think of and make a list of your skills and competencies. Then, out of this list you will chose your 5 top competencies – they will be the reason why this particular employer should choose you over the competition. 


Why only five? You don’t want to hit the interviewer with a bunch of facts of what you’ve done, what your interests are, and many ways you can add value to the organization. What you want when you craft your message is clarity and focus. 


People pay attention and remember the information better when you organise it around a few core concepts. 


Most likely there will be other applicants for this position, so you will be competing for the attention and if your message is confusing – you will lose it. 

And if we think about marketing – you won’t sell a car by running through every feature it has. You will focus on just a few: it’s hip, cheap, and easy to park in the city. Or it’s imposing, prestigious and expensive and you need to pay for parking it in a garage. 

Then you will need to translate these 5 top reasons into the key strengths, that you are bringing to your new workplace. Think about your target company – what are they looking for in the ideal candidate? What are their problems? Your skills that can solve these problems are powerful selling points of your brand. 


To come up with these top reasons ask yourself the following questions: 


  • What brings me the most satisfaction at work? We tend to be good at what we like. 
  • Think about the area in which you are exceptionally knowledgeable.
  • Write down your most impressive professional or academic accomplishments for the past five years. 
  • Think about what your previous employer, or colleagues will say if you ask them what makes you valuable? 

I put some questions in a workbook you can download and print out from the link down in the comment section of this video. Or you can reflect on your experience and write down your observations.


These steps have prepared us for the last step in this process which is to craft a message that will highlight your unique value and help you to get your interview off to a very persuasive start – that will leave you feeling more confident for the rest of the meeting. 


For example: “Based on the job announcement it is clear the new person in this role needs to have an ability to implement the change across the organization. I was excited to see that because this is exactly what my background is. At my previous work, my ability to prepare diagrams enabled me to create easy step-by-step action plans for my department. Combined with my good writing skills it allowed me to report that data objectively to the board of directors. And once it was approved by the board, I demonstrated the ability to effectively implement the change through cross-functional collaboration. Would that match up to what you are looking for?” 


So you see, it is easy to answer Tell me about yourself question when you have all elements in place:


  • A list of your key points or reasons why they should hire you
  • The message that summarizes them 
  • And a natural conversational tone you deliver this message


As I help job seekers, especially non-native English speakers to prepare for job interviews, I keep saying – when you have clearly articulated what makes you stand out – practice reciting these words so when the time is right you can deliver your message fluently and confidently.



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