How to answer, “Tell us about yourself?” in a job interview when this is your first job, or you’ve had a break from the workforce

When attending a job interview or meeting an employer for the first time, 

“Tell us about yourself” is often one of the first questions they will ask.  

If you’ve spent time out of the workforce or this is your first job you may be wondering how to answer this question.  

 

First, let us consider why do employers ask the question “Tell us about yourself?” 

They are looking for a summary of your resume, cover letter and personality.  

What they really want to know is how you communicate, your skills, personality and how this might make you a great employee. 

 

This simple question provides the perfect opportunity to make a great first impression with your prospective employer.  

 

Below are some tips on how to answer this question if this is your first job or if you’ve had a long break from the workforce.  

 

A helpful tip is to think of your answer in a ‘Past, Present and Future’ sequence.  

 

PAST – Start off by introducing yourself and explaining your previous schooling or activities and how they relate to the position (if possible).  

 

PRESENT – Talk about your current situation, and what led you to apply for this position. Here, you can also mention any of your personality traits or qualities that would be relevant to the job.  

 

FUTURE – Finish off your response in the future tense. You may want to talk briefly about some of your career or employment goals. Consider mentioning your values or interests that align with those of the business or industry.  

 

Let us put this into practice with an example.  

Scenario: You have been out of the workforce for 10 years as a stay-at-home mum and you’re applying for a role as a retail assistant.  

Employer: Hi, thank you so much for coming in for a chat, tell me a bit about yourself? 

You: Hi lovely to meet you, my name is Sally. (Past) I have been a stay-at-home mum for the past 10 years looking after my two children. (Present) They have now started school and I’m looking to join the workforce. I am patient, friendly, I have strong initiative and I’m great at problem-solving. (Future) I know customer service and thinking on your feet is an important part of (business name), I enjoy helping people and am looking for a role where I can contribute to a positive customer experience and be part of a team.  

 

Practise your response! 

 

Practise, practise, practise. Rehearse with family or a friend to ensure you are feeling ready and confident. Good luck. You have got this! 

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