How to Answer ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ in an Interview

When it comes to interviewing for a job, the “Tell me about yourself” question is often one of the first questions that interviewers ask. While this may seem like a simple question, it can actually be quite challenging to answer effectively. Many candidates struggle with how to provide a concise yet compelling summary of their professional background and skills.

The dreaded “Tell me about yourself” interview question is one of the most common and yet, one of the most difficult to answer. It’s a simple question, but it’s also a complex one. It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself to the interviewer and make a positive first impression. In this blog post, we’ll be discussing how to answer the “Tell me about yourself” question in an interview, and we’ll be focusing on the South African job market.

In South Africa, the job market can be highly competitive, and candidates need to make a strong first impression in order to stand out from the crowd. This means that answering the “Tell me about yourself” question in a clear and confident manner is essential for success in the job interview. By following the tips and best practices outlined in this blog post, South African job seekers can better prepare for this common interview question and increase their chances of landing their dream job.

What is the interviewer looking for?

Before we dive into how to answer the question, let’s first understand what the interviewer is looking for. The interviewer is not interested in your life story, your family background or your hobbies. They want to know how you can add value to their company. They want to know if you’re the right fit for the job and if you have the necessary skills and experience to do the job.

Tips on How to Answer the Question

Start with a brief introduction

The first thing you should do is introduce yourself. You don’t have to go into too much detail, just give your name, your current job title (if you have one), and a brief summary of your professional background. For example, “My name is John, and I’m currently a marketing manager at XYZ company. I have over five years of experience in marketing and have worked with several well-known brands in South Africa.”

Highlight your skills and achievements

After your introduction, the next step is to highlight your skills and achievements. You can talk about your key strengths and how they have helped you succeed in your previous roles. You can also mention any specific achievements you’re proud of, such as exceeding sales targets or implementing a successful marketing campaign.

Show your passion for the job

One of the things that interviewers look for in candidates is passion. They want to know that you’re genuinely interested in the job and that you’re not just looking for any job. You can show your passion by talking about why you’re interested in the job, what excites you about the industry, and how you see yourself fitting into the company.

Keep it relevant

While it’s important to give a brief overview of your professional background, you should also keep your answer relevant to the job you’re applying for. This means focusing on the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing role, you should focus on your marketing experience and skills.

Practice your answer

It’s essential to practice your answer before the interview. This will help you feel more confident and prepared, and it will also help you avoid rambling or forgetting important details. Practice your answer in front of a mirror or with a friend or family member, and make sure you’re comfortable with your delivery.

Example Answer

Now that we’ve covered the tips on how to answer the “Tell me about yourself” question let’s look at an example answer that incorporates these tips:

“Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m currently a digital marketer at ABC company. I’ve been in the industry for over six years, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the leading brands in South Africa, such as Shoprite, Pick n Pay, and Woolworths.

During my career, I’ve developed a strong set of skills in digital marketing, including social media marketing, search engine optimization, and email marketing. I’m particularly proud of the email marketing campaign I developed for Pick n Pay, which resulted in a 30% increase in open rates.

I’m excited about the role at your company because I’m passionate about working with innovative and forward-thinking companies that are making a positive impact on the world. I’m particularly interested in the work your company is doing in sustainability and how you see yourself fitting in with that mission.

Throughout my career, I’ve always been committed to staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices. I’m confident that my experience and skills make me the ideal candidate for this position, and I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to your company’s continued success.”

In this example answer, Sarah starts with a brief introduction that includes her name, current job title, and professional background. She then highlights her skills and achievements, mentioning her experience in digital marketing and her success with email marketing campaigns. Sarah also shows her passion for the job by mentioning her interest in working with innovative and sustainable companies. Finally, she concludes by expressing her confidence in her ability to excel in the role and contribute to the company’s success.

In addition to the tips and example answer provided earlier, here are some more insights on how to answer the “Tell me about yourself” question in an interview.

  1. Be concise and to the point: Remember that the interviewer has limited time, so make sure your answer is concise and to the point. Avoid going into too much detail or rambling, as this can make you come across as unprepared or unprofessional. Stick to the key points that highlight your skills and experience.
  2. Use keywords and phrases: Using relevant keywords and phrases can help you stand out to the interviewer and demonstrate your knowledge of the industry or job role. This can also help your resume get past applicant tracking systems (ATS), which are used by many companies to screen resumes before they even reach a human.
  3. Highlight transferable skills: Transferable skills are skills that can be applied across different job roles or industries. Highlighting these skills can be especially useful if you’re switching careers or applying for a job in a different industry. Some examples of transferable skills include communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability.
  4. Mention your career goals: While you don’t want to come across as too self-centered or focused on your own career, it’s still important to mention your career goals and aspirations. This can show the interviewer that you have a long-term plan and that you’re committed to your professional development. It can also help you determine if the job you’re applying for aligns with your career goals.
  5. Stay positive and confident: Finally, it’s important to stay positive and confident when answering the “Tell me about yourself” question. Avoid negative or self-deprecating comments, and focus on your strengths and achievements. Remember that the interviewer is trying to get to know you and determine if you’re a good fit for the job, so approach the question with enthusiasm and confidence.

By following these additional tips, you can further enhance your answer to the “Tell me about yourself” question and increase your chances of landing the job.


In conclusion, the “Tell me about yourself” question can be a great opportunity to make a positive first impression on the interviewer. By following these tips and practicing your answer, you can show the interviewer that you’re the right fit for the job and that you have the necessary skills and experience to succeed in the role. Remember to keep your answer relevant to the job you’re applying for, highlight your skills and achievements, and show your passion for the job. Good luck with your next interview!

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