In most interviews, although the interviewer will have read through your application form and your CV to find out a little about you, this is one of the most commonly asked questions in interviews. They will already have a brief outline of you from the information that you have provided, but now that you are in front of them, they usually like to hear it from you in your own words.
Although it initially seems like a simple question, many people can panic and worry about what to say and what details the interviewer may be looking for. Your answer will usually give the interviewer an overall impression of you as an individual and so it is imperative that you have an idea of what you should reply.
Interviewers are not there to trick you or catch you out but they do like someone who can answer in a coherent and confident manner so it is wise to rehearse your answers several days in advance. You could write down your answer on paper and read through it several times to become familiar with what you would like to convey, ask a friend or family member to have a ‘mock interview’ with you or run through different scenarios in your mind - whatever works best for you. Then you will have a clear idea of how to answer the question when the day of your interview arrives.
By asking you this question, the interviewer doesn’t really need to know any personal details from you like how many times you have been married, what your favourite food is, how many pets you have or how you hate where you live! Additionally, you should never say anything detrimental or negative about your current colleagues, managers or the company you are currently working for. The interviewer is interested in little else apart from your educational and professional background, your skills and experience and why you should be considered for the role for which you are applying. Of course, further on in the interview they may ask about hobbies or interests but it is best practice to wait until asked and to stick to answering in a purely professional manner.
Keep your answers clear and concise as you probably have only a couple of minutes, you could answer in the following format, obviously tailoring your answer to fit in with yourself and the job you are applying for.
‘I like to think of myself as a diligent and empathic type of person which is why I have been working in — for five years, since leaving college in which I gained my — but now I feel it is time to expand my knowledge and I believe that the role I have applied for would allow me to do that. I work very well as part of a team and am adept at multitasking which my current role demands. In fact, I have just been voted as colleague of the month for the second time since my role started. I thrive on hard work and am dedicated to progressing my career which is why I have applied for this role within your company. The values of this company align with my own values of making a real difference.’
This answer gives a small sample of what you have done academically, your strengths, the job you are currently fulfilling and why you have applied for this particular role within this company. By giving this short yet detailed type of answer, it gives the interviewer enough information to get a clearer picture of you while giving the opportunity for them to question you more or for you to elaborate further.