What can you tell me about yourself?

It’s a very common interview question, often seen as an employer as a warm opener but one that might strike fear in you. How do you answer such an open question? What should you focus on?

In this blog we’ll look at how to tackle this and some other ‘tricky’ interview questions.

Performing well at interview requires effective preparation (for more on this check out our interview tips blog). Preparing well also involves anticipating some questions you might be asked and thinking about how you might answer them. But be ready to think on your feet as you might be asked a question you haven’t anticipated so you need to strike the right balance between planning your answers and listening carefully in the interview to ensure you’re answering the question you’ve been asked.

So, what’s our advice for tackling some of the most common interview questions?

What can you tell me about yourself?

Think about what’s relevant to the job and company. Give a brief overview of your work history, touch on why you’re suitable for the role you’re being interviewed for and if it’s relevant give some insight into your interests (e.g. if you are applying for a social media role and you blog in your spare time).

Why do you want to work here?

This is your chance to tell the employer what you consider to be special about their organisation and what research you’ve done prior to the interview. Think about the company’s values, ambitions, position in the sector and anything else that makes you want to work there. If you’ve met somebody who works there that inspired you to apply or you’ve had a positive previous experience within the organisation let the interviewer know. Think about the role you’re being interviewed for and why you want that particular job too.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

For your strengths try not to just list these but give some examples that demonstrate your abilities and achievements within a work setting. Don’t forget to think about the ‘results’ and try to make your examples relevant to the skills required for the role you’re being interviewed for.

For your weaknesses try not to have more of these than strengths! It’s OK to have areas for development and what the employer is looking for here is self-awareness. Try to recognise or acknowledge things you have done or are trying to do to improve in this area (e.g. training).

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

This can be a tricky one to answer as you’re maybe not looking that far ahead. You can’t be too specific but the employer wants to know that you’ve thought about where success in the role you’re interviewing for might lead. Try to strike the right balance between ambition and loyalty and avoid sounding like you won’t stay in the job you’ve applied for, or within the company, for long.

For more great interview advice visit the Interview Simulator on My Careers Centre where you’ll find common questions, expert advice and can take a mock interview.

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