“Tell Us About Yourself” is the most common interview question many job seekers will encounter. It is the same meaning as introducing yourself. However, many interviewers don’t know how to answer it better to make themselves stand out among other candidates. Here I want to share my opinion specifically on this topic.
Table of Contents
- Misunderstanding in Response to “Tell Us About Yourself”
- What Behind “Tell Us About Yourself”
- The Way to Make Yourself Stand Out is to Differentiate
- Two Steps of Answering “Tell us About Yourself”
- An Example of the Job You Apply for and Your Background
- An Example of How to Respond “Tell us About Yourself” You Can Learn or Take Action
- Step 1: Introduce Yourself to Attract the Interviewer’s Attention
- Step 2: Let the Interviewer Simply Know What You Do at the Very Beginning
- Step 3: Express What You Have Learned that is Needed for the Job You Apply for
- Step 4: Additional Knowledge You Have Learnt Which Your Future Work May Need
- Step 5: Express How You Achieve
- Step 6: Talk Your Advantages
- Step 7: Present Your Willing to Join the Company Humbly
- Step 8: Express Your Additional Advantage that the Job Require
- Step 9: Conclusion
- Final Thought
Misunderstanding in Response to “Tell Us About Yourself”
Some interviewers may think their work experience and educational background are already written on CVs, so they’re confused 1)why the interview asks them “Tell us About Yourself”? 2)And does the answer is to repeat the same content in CV again?
Maybe you also have such confusion, but the issue is that if your CV isn’t outstanding enough, why should the interviewer have a deep impression of you? For example, if the interviewer has 50 resumes (besides yours) in hand and needs to interview everyone in a day. How can the interviewer remember you?
Therefore, let you introduce yourself, and then the interviewer will browse your resume while listening to your response and communicate with you on some questions.
So if you think the answer to the question of “Tell us About Yourself” is just to repeat the content in your CV, you may not get the right meaning from the interviewer.
For example. If you meet a customer at an exhibition and he asks you:
Customer: “How much is this product?”
You: “Didn’t I send you a quotation yesterday?” “Why are you still asking?”
Customer: “What does the packaging look like?”
You: “Isn’t it written in my quotation? You have already responded that you received it and why do you still ask?”
Think about it yourself. Do you think why the customer asks these questions again?
What Behind “Tell Us About Yourself”
When the interviewer asks you to introduce yourself, you’d better seize this precious opportunity, talk about the key points concisely, refine the topic, and vividly express something behind your resume.
A successful interview is to show the interviewer your comprehensive abilities and characteristics in the shortest time.
This is like starting a business and you need support from investors. No matter how complex and great your business plan is, you need to briefly explain to your investors what your value is and why should they consider investing in.
This is like the elevator pitch, which is a short description of an idea or product that explains the concept that any listener can understand in a short period of time. You need to know how to prepare your introduction in advance, then organize and structure the content specifically, and finally hit people’s hearts with just a few words.
A Common But Bad Response Example
When the interviewer asks you to introduce yourself, most people will only talk about their past work simply. Your straightforward introduction has no specific characteristics and so it is difficult to attract the interviewer.
For example a common but bad response:
“I have worked in a company for three years as a salesperson, responsible for customer development, follow-up, exhibitions, and price negotiations.”
What to do When Introducing Yourself
In the process of speaking, you should observe the interviewer’s facial expression. If you notice he is impatient to listen to some things, you’d better end it immediately and switch to another topic. If he seems to be interested in some topics, then go deep, and then find the points that impress him, or some humorous examples, to resonate and interact.
The Way to Make Yourself Stand Out is to Differentiate
What kind of employee does the interviewer look for? In fact, it is a question of matching. It depends on how well you fit the position required by the company, and how much room is there for your future development. Among many interviewees, are you the most suitable one? If not, are you more suitable?
I have applied for the position of sales manager and purchasing manager in many multinational companies when I worked as a salesperson in an unknown small private enterprise. There is approximately 80% of getting an interview opportunity through a resume.
The way to stand out is to differentiate. Ten years ago, when other people were using “WORD” to make resumes, I could already use “PPT” to make exquisite presentation version resumes. And I know how to do copywriting, how to catch people’s attention, and how to refine the main points.
Of course, these are not what I want to talk with you today. What I want to say today is how to respond to “Tell us About Yourself” to succeed in a job interview.
Two Steps of Answering “Tell us About Yourself”
Step 1: Get a General Understanding of the Company You are Applying for
Search on the Internet and find as much information related to this company as possible, including positive and negative ones. Pay more attention to the employer’s website to know the company profile, management, product, etc.
Step 2: Prepare Your Introduction Based on the Company’s Position Requirement
Take a closer look at the position you are applying for. What are the requirements for the position, read each requirement carefully and compare it with what you have. That is, you’d better structure your self-introduction in a targeted manner.
Besides that your resume is customized, what you’ll talk about with the interviewer in the process of “Tell us About Yourself” should be rehearsed in advance instead of playing on the spot.
An Example of the Job You Apply for and Your Background
When your resume and background are very thin, you can use some negotiation strategies to let the interviewer see your strengths so that he may be willing to try to give you an opportunity.
The Job You Apply for
For example, the position you are applying for is a sales manager in a large company, with an annual salary of USD 80,000 to 100,000.
You’re a salesman, your company is a small trading company of 5 people, besides a finance and a driver. You have an annual income of USD 50,000 and a total of three years of work experience.
In this job, you started as a sales assistant, did many kinds of work (ex. documentary work), and followed up with some orders for 2 years. After that, you work as a salesperson to develop customers for 1 year.
You only developed 5 customers in this year, and so far the total sales amount is USD200,000.
An Example of How to Respond “Tell us About Yourself” You Can Learn or Take Action
Above is your background, how do you structure your elevator pitch? How to stand out in your “Tell us About Yourself” time? And how to make it possible for the interviewer to give you a job opportunity? You can introduce yourself through the following steps.
Step 1: Introduce Yourself to Attract the Interviewer’s Attention
Talk with the interviewer honestly your work experience is not long, but it is quite rich. In the company, the boss cultivates you as a management trainee, so you need to go through every department and learn all aspects of sales, after-sales, follow-up orders, procurement, documents, and so on.
Therefore you have a basic understanding of the entire sales process, and you can think about business from a high perspective when you’re engaged in a specific job.
Step 2: Let the Interviewer Simply Know What You Do at the Very Beginning
For example, you can say you work as a sales assistant for 199 days in the beginning, learned the company’s products, and help the boss deal with daily chores, including a series of internal tasks such as formulating and arranging itineraries for customers, booking air tickets and hotels, arranging pick-up and drop-off, ordering meals and related matters.
Step 3: Express What You Have Learned that is Needed for the Job You Apply for
For example, you can say you did order follow-up for 435 days, with the following working content (all need to be done independently):
- Follow-up order and understand all matters related to order follow-up.
- Assist sales manager to negotiate with the factory about the order processing.
- Familiar with products manufacturing: from sample confirmation, raw material procurement, production. arrangements, assembly and packaging, final inspection, delivery arrangements, invoices, and freight.
- As well as crisis management, after-sales follow-up, etc.
Step 4: Additional Knowledge You Have Learnt Which Your Future Work May Need
For example, you can say you also deal with related matters related to documents, understand bills of lading, freight forwarding forms, invoices, packing lists, understand some risk control, have experience in D/P and letters of credit payment, and know how to deal with certificates of origin.
Step 5: Express How You Achieve
For example, you can say you do sales for 330 days, of which 50 days, the boss taught you hand in hand, mainly responsible for following up the company’s old customers, but directly negotiating and communicating, and sending or cc emails to the boss.
After that, develop customers independently and you learned how to quote prices and negotiate prices with customers. Also, go abroad or to other states for exhibition. Three customers were developed through the exhibition, one customer was acquired by a friend’s introduction, and one customer was won from Google search. The smallest order is about USD 5,000, and the largest order is temporarily around USD 80,000.
For the longest order, you followed up for 12 months, that is all the time when you’re working at the current company. And you got the order from this customer last week.
The shortest order was developed on Google. The customer confirmed the order in 10 days. Although the amount was not large, it gave you confidence. You also believe that the search engine can have good results and compensate for B2B platforms and exhibitions during Covid -19 Period.
At this time, if you add some ingenious cases, some stories in your work, such as how you deal with customer claims, how you resolve a big quality problem… These things are what impresses the interviewer.
Step 6: Talk Your Advantages
For example, you can say you understand some relevant laws and regulations in most states of the United States, and can connect with factories and third-party organizations based on customer inquiries. You think this is one of your advantages in the process of developing customers in the early stage.
You’re also familiar with AQL inspection standards, know how to manage and control quality, and have personally operated two customer factory inspections, and know the requirements of social responsibility. When developing new customers, you can show your advantages in quality management and supplier management from multiple perspectives.
Step 7: Present Your Willing to Join the Company Humbly
You can say your work experience is indeed thinner in this aspect of sales. After all, what your company needs are sales managers who are experienced and capable of developing orders, maintaining customers, and leading the team. You know that your experience may not be convincing the interviewer enough.
But if your company is willing to give you a chance, you can show and demonstrate your ability through the trial period, so as to integrate into the team as soon as possible, and let the interviewer see your personal value.
Step 8: Express Your Additional Advantage that the Job Require
For example, you can say your Business English in email writing is not bad and you believe it is completely different from most sales managers, and you’ll write an email according to the interviewer’s test. Let the interviewer or others in that company look at your email and express the way your think about it.
Step 9: Conclusion
You can say “Although my work experience is insufficient, my three years are three years of solid and continuous improvement, rather than half a year of experience, and then repeat for two and a half years. Please give me this opportunity if you can.”
I think as long as you perform well in answering “Tell Us About Yourself”, and are really professional in the job, interviewers will generally not ignore you. Any company needs talent. And whether it is a salesperson or a sales manager, it is often just a basic position, not a senior manager. The boss doesn’t need to take a big risk and pay a high salary to hire you.
So as long as the interviewer has a good impression of you and feels that you are at a better level than most sales in his company, most probably you can get the job. After all, there is still a probationary period. If your capability is not qualified, they can dismiss you.