The One Interview Question That Everyone Dreads

Feb 07, 2014 1 Min Read

“Can you tell us a little about yourself?” These eight little words can be terrifying if you’re not sure what to say.

Should you talk about your last role? Hobbies? Work style? Preferred management style? All of the above? Relax – here are six tips to help you answer this important question well:

1. What do they really want to know? Keep in mind that the interviewer is using this enquiry for a couple of reasons.

The first is as an ice-breaker, but more importantly, the way you answer gives them a better sense of who you are. If you mumble, fumble or ramble your way through this answer, it does not leave a very good lasting impression.

2. So what should you talk about? The best thing to do is stick to business-related topics.

Give a brief summary of your career to date, education and any highlights along the way. Don’t just run through your resume again – your interviewer already has it.

Use this as an opportunity to highlight your key achievements, particularly those that relate to the position on offer.

3. Breathe! You should be proud of what you have learned and achieved so far and feel confident discussing it with your interviewer.

Be engaging – remember to take your time, speak clearly, maintain good eye contact and smile. If your recruiter likes what they hear and the way you say it at this point, you’ve set the tone for a successful interview.

4. Confidence not arrogance. Your interview is a chance to sell yourself, but remember to do it in a way that doesn’t come across as arrogant or obnoxious.

Confidence and arrogance are very different, so focus on your strengths, but not in a way that makes you appear to have no weaknesses. It’s not a good look.

5. How much detail should you go into? Not much is the short answer – you have the rest of the interview to expand on anything the interviewer would like to hear more about.

Keep your answer brief but friendly – you don’t want to come across as too shy or defensive. Leave your recruiter wanting to hear more, not less!

6. It’s not personal, it’s business. Only comment on personal topics when asked, and keep your reference to them general. This is a job interview after all, so keep your answer focused on what you could bring to this role. If the interviewer wants to know anything more than that, he will ask, and will appreciate your professionalism.

Don’t try and be someone you’re not, and don’t overthink it – just be your professional, wonderful self and you’ll always have great interviews!

This article is courtesy of CPA Australia, one of the world’s largest accounting bodies. It provides career insights for students at as part of The Naked CEO initiative spearheaded by its chief executive Alex Malley. Click here for more articles.

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This article is published by the editors of with the consent of the guest author. 

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