Tell Me About Yourself (TMAY)

We have all heard this as the “icebreaker” question in job interviews or networking opportunities to begin the exchange of information. While the TMAY question sounds innocent and is an easy way to start the conversation rolling, the quality of your answer directly determines the interviewer’s level of interest in further considering you for opportunities within their company. This may sound daunting, but in actuality, this is good news! By carefully determining your response beforehand, you can immediately showcase your experience, grab the listener’s attention and set the tone for the entire conversation, all to your benefit.

For some, the question ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ is so open ended that they wonder what kind of information the person asking wants to know. In an interview situation, think of the question this way: ‘Tell me about yourself in relation to the position that I am interviewing you for.’ This is the perfect platform for you to summarize your experience, skills, accomplishments and characteristics that make you the right person for the position. It is not the time to include information that is irrelevant: your age, your marital status, how many children you have, personal hobbies, where you have lived…

You know yourself best. Sometimes we know ourselves ‘too well’. We find it overwhelming to try to summarize our years of experience into a short introduction that will showcase our abilities and capture the interviewer’s attention – all in 1 minute. This is why it is essential to plan your response, before you find yourself being asked to TMAY.

Think of any commercial you see. It is incredible how much information can be conveyed in a one minute time span. Here are some thoughts to help you prepare your answer:

a. # of years experience in the field being interviewed for.
b. Specific ‘hard skills’ you bring ie. technical, computer, management, sales or other skills that the position requires. (use the job posting as your reference to determine what matters to the interviewer).
c. A key accomplishment or two that will grab their attention. Simply tell them the end result that you created. They can ask for more detail later…
d. Some qualities that you possess and use to be successful in the role being interviewed for: able to meet tight deadlines, being analytical or innovative, able to diffuse difficult situations, able to motivate teams around a major goal…
e. Then tie this all together with why you want to bring these great skills to benefit the company you are interviewing with. (research who they are, know their mission statement, their reputation or position in the industry, and tell them specifically what it is that excites you about who they are, or the role you are applying for.)

Remember: be prepared. Know what information matters to them, and keep it brief. Present your answer with confidence, and you will find interviewers sitting up and taking notice, ready to gather much more about who you are and how your experience, past accomplishments and interest in working for their company, can benefit them – all because you were ready to ‘set the tone’ and take control of the conversation at the outset.

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