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Tell me about yourself...

By Daniel Allard

If you are experienced at interviews, you’ll know that there’s nothing more ambiguous than being asked the question “Tell me more about yourself…”

One of the most important things that you should do ahead of your next job interview is to prepare yourself to answer this inevitable question. Here is our advice for making the most of your response.

Things to include in your answer

The reason why so many people struggle to answer this initial question is that it’s so broad. You may not be 100% confident about what is being asked of you, even though logically it should be easy to talk about yourself. It’s a question which is designed to help recruiters and hiring managers learn more about you; not just your expertise and knowledge, but your personality, ambitions and who you are beyond your career.

This is a question that requires a speech-like answer. It should tell a story and engage the hiring panel to want to learn more about you. You may find that preparing your answer and practicing saying it out loud could allow you to feel much more confident in future interviews.

We recommend ensuring that your answer covers the following:

  • What have you accomplished? This is designed to showcase your expertise. You don’t want to talk through your CV (they’ve already seen that) – instead, you should pick out any notable accomplishments or moments where you’ve had great success. If you’re applying for a nursing job, then use this to talk about key moments where you’ve delivered exceptional patient care; for a physiotherapy job, you could discuss a case where you’ve helped a patient to successfully recover from an injury. This is your opportunity to talk about what you’re good at and why you are passionate about what you do.

  • Why are you interested in this particular position? The hiring panel wants to know what makes you a great fit for this particular job, so here’s your chance to sell yourself effectively. How does your specific experience relate to this job description? Do you have a history of their specific requirements, or is it a step further up your career ladder? Try and give examples of how you meet the job requirements. If you’re aiming for a more senior role such as a higher band nursing job, or you're considering moving away from an NHS occupational therapy job into a local authority (or even private practice), then show how you’ve been developing the skills.

  • What do you want to achieve? It’s always good to show ambition; we know that our health community has a drive to continually improve and this is something that your prospective new employer will want to see to. It may be that you’re aiming to become the head of a department, or it could be that you’re simply wanting to undertake training in a new area to further develop your skillset. Try and show how your ambition links in with the job role; the hiring panel will be looking to see how you plan to collaborate with them to achieve your aims.

What not to say

Firstly, you should never mention any reference to marital status, children, political or religious beliefs. Not only are they not relevant to the job description but by law, you shouldn’t be discriminated by these elements which is why a hiring panel is not allowed to ask you about these.

You need to be able to talk about your career history with ease. They’ve already seen your CV and know the basics of what you’ve achieved, so don’t repeat information they already know. You only need to give them the basics – after all, this question is likely to be at the start of the interview, so they’ll have plenty of time to ask further information.

We have written a selection of pieces around starting and navigating your nursing career. If you need support ahead of your next interview, then please get in touch.