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  • Hi I'm Oli.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English!

  • In this lesson, you can learn how to answer the question 'tell me about yourself.'

  • To see more free English lessons, visit our website: Oxford Online English dot com.

  • You can also book English classes with our fully-qualified teachers, who can help you

  • with your English speaking, writing, IELTS preparation, or whatever else you need.

  • Don't forget to turn on the subtitles for this video if you need them!

  • All our videos have English subtitles.

  • You can turn them on now: just click the 'CC' button in the bottom right of the video player.

  • 'Tell me about yourself.'

  • This question makes people nervous.

  • What can you say?

  • Honestly, this is a bad question to ask.

  • If I was giving someone a job interview, I would never ask this question, because it

  • makes people uncomfortable.

  • But, you might hear it, and need to answer!

  • Maybe in a job interview, or an interview for university, or in an English exam, or

  • somewhere else.

  • In this lesson, you'll see answers to this question for four different situations.

  • One: in a job interview.

  • Two: in a university interview.

  • Three: in an English exam.

  • This is the most general example, so if you just want a general way to respond to 'tell

  • me about yourself', watch this section.

  • Four: when introducing yourself to new colleagues.

  • Before we look at our sample answers, let's see four general tips.

  • First, think about the context you're in.

  • 'Tell me about yourself' doesn't mean 'Tell me *everything* about yourself.'

  • You need to choose where to focus.

  • For example, in a job interview, you should focus on your professional background.

  • In an English exam, you'll probably give a more general answer.

  • Secondly, keep your answer short and focused.

  • Our sample answers are mostly around three or four sentences.

  • This is a good length to aim for.

  • Thirdly, remember that this question will usually be asked at the beginning of an interview.

  • In most cases, the interviewer won't pay much attention to the content of what you

  • say, so don't worry about it too much.

  • The most important thing is that you can answer confidently and coherently.

  • Finally, here's a suggestion for a general structure: make one or two sentences about

  • your past, one or two sentences about your current situation, and one or two sentences

  • about the future.

  • Now, let's see some examples!

  • I'm currently working in HR for Dell, but actually as you've probably seen from my

  • CV, my background is in graphic design.

  • I've been wanting to get back to graphic design work for some time, and that's why

  • I applied for this position.

  • In this answer, you talk about your current situation, and then add details about your

  • background.

  • It's a simple answer, but that's fine.

  • It's focused and clear, and it gives your interviewer the chance to ask for more details

  • if he or she wants.

  • Let's see one more example:

  • I've been working in biomedical research for about five years.

  • I completed my PhD four years ago, and I worked for a small pharmaceutical company here, until,

  • unfortunately, they went out of business recently.

  • So, I'm currently looking for a new position in biotech, pharma, or anything related to

  • my training and experience.

  • This answer is a little more detailed.

  • It also doesn't really include information about the future.

  • That's OKthe past-present-future idea isn't a template which you *have* to follow;

  • it's just a way to organise your ideas.

  • Let's look at some language from these examples.

  • In sentences three and four, after 'in', you need to name a sector.

  • For example, 'I've been working in the education sector for seven years.'

  • If you want to name a company, use 'at'.

  • For example, 'I've been working *at* HSBC for a year and a half.'

  • Could you complete these sentences to make them true for you?

  • Pause the video and try it now!

  • Say your sentences out loud.

  • Next, let's look at university interviews.

  • I've always loved drama, watching plays, and everything else connected with the theatre.

  • I've been involved in our school drama society for several years, both in terms of acting

  • in productions and also working behind the scenes, with set design, lighting, and things

  • like that.

  • I've known for a long time that I want to be an actor, and studying drama here would

  • be a logical next step towards that goal, I think.

  • This answer gives more details about the speaker's past experience, and less information about

  • the present and future.

  • As you heard before, this is no problem!

  • Don't feel that you need to have a certain number of sentences about the past, or whatever.

  • Different answers will fit different situations.

  • Be flexible!

  • Let's see one more sample answer.

  • I always knew I wanted to be a scientist, even when I was little.

  • My best subjects throughout school have been maths and science, but at this point I'd

  • like to specialise more, which is why I'm applying to study astrophysics.

  • I'm doing my IB next month, and my predicted grade is 40 or higher.

  • I'm hoping you'll offer me a place to study here, and I'm excited to start my

  • studies in September.

  • These answers are specialised; they focus on particular subjects.

  • But, there are several pieces of language you can use, whatever you study.

  • Let's look.

  • Of course, you can change these phrases to fit your situation.

  • For example, if you're still at school, you'll probably say 'are' or 'have

  • been' in number two, instead of 'were'.

  • Now, it's your turn to practise!

  • Use these four phrases to make your own answer, using your own ideas.

  • Pause the video, and say your answer out loud now.

  • How was that?

  • You might need to practise a few times to get everything fluent.

  • Take your time and practise as many times as you need.

  • Next, let's see how to answer 'tell me about yourself' in a more general way, for

  • example in an English exam.

  • Honestly, in most English exams, you're not likely to be asked this question.

  • In common international exams, like IELTS or the Cambridge exams, questions are more

  • focused.

  • But, it's possible.

  • Or, you might need to answer the question 'tell me about yourself' in a different

  • situation.

  • Let's look at a more general answer to this question:

  • Well, I was born in Vladivostok, but my dad moved around a lot for his work, so I grew

  • up in different places: Japan, The Philippines and Malaysia.

  • Currently I'm working part-time and studying for a Master's in film production.

  • I'm pretty interested in film, video production and things like that, so I'm hoping to work

  • in that sector once I finish my studies.

  • You can see that the answer is more general and personal, rather than focusing on work

  • or studies.

  • Let's see one more:

  • I'm originally from Buenos Aires, but I've been living here in Dublin for several years

  • now.

  • I work for an ad agency, as a copywriter, which is something I never imagined I would

  • do, but I really like it.

  • I was never good at English when I was younger, so it's weird that I ended up working in

  • a job which requires very high-level language skills.

  • I like living here, but I feel like I'd also like to travel and experience living

  • in other places, so I'm thinking about moving to Canada or the US in the next year or so.

  • This is the longest of our sample answers, but it's still quite short: about 100 words.

  • Remember that you don't want your answer to be too long.

  • Keep it short and focused!

  • If you're asked the question 'tell me about yourself' in an English exam or general

  • situation, let's see some language you can use to build an answer.

  • In number two, you put a company after 'for', and your position after 'as'.

  • For example, 'I'm working for Google as a tester.'

  • In number four, you put an -ing verb after 'about', to describe something which you

  • are considering doing in the future.

  • For example, 'I'm thinking about changing jobs.'

  • Let's try together.

  • Make your own answer, using these four phrases.

  • If you want, add more sentences or details to your answer.

  • Pause the video, and make your answer now.

  • How was that?

  • Easy?

  • Difficult?

  • If it's difficult, read the sample answersyou can find the text on our website.

  • Use the sample answers as a model, and change the details so that you're using your own

  • information.

  • Let's move on to our last section.

  • Sometimes, if you start working in a new company, you'll have to introduce yourself at a meeting.

  • Here, your answer should focus on your professional background, like in a job interview.

  • However, you'll probably use a more conversational tone.

  • Let's see our first sample.

  • My name's Gwen, and as you maybe know I just started here; this is my first week,

  • in fact.

  • I'm working in the marketing department as a web marketing coordinator.

  • My background is a mix of marketing and software – I started my career as a software engineer.

  • I'm still finding my feet and I haven't met all of you yet, but I'm looking forward

  • to working with you all.

  • If you're walking past my office, come and say 'hi'!

  • If you work in a larger company, you might need to introduce yourself to colleagues even

  • if you've worked there for some time, for example, if you're starting a project with

  • people you've never worked with before.

  • Let's see how that could look:

  • Hi, I'm Elias.

  • I'm the CISO, so I'm responsible for online security, and keeping our computers and networks

  • safe.

  • You've probably seen me around, because I've been working here for a whilealmost

  • ten years now!

  • As you just heard, all staff need to take our cybersecurity training class, so you'll

  • be learning about how to stay safe online with me or one of my colleagues in the next

  • month or two.