How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in an Interview
First impressions are everything. That doesn’t just include how you dress but also how well you can respond to questions in an interview.
One of the most important questions you’ll receive is, “tell me about yourself.” It seems low-stakes and general enough, but it’s one of the more challenging questions to answer because it’s so open-ended. Your answer immediately sets the tone for the remainder of your interview.
Many job seekers get stuck, sounding uncertain and unclear in their responses. Even with all the skills and experiences required for the role, communicating one’s unique qualities compellingly to leave a lasting first impression isn’t easy.
Fortunately, with the proper guidance, you’ll crush the interview and stand out from the crowd. This guide will give you insight into what interviewers seek when asking this question and tips for responding successfully.
Why Do Interviewers Ask, ‘Tell Me About Yourself?’
Interviewers typically use “tell me about yourself” as an icebreaker question to ease you and them into the interview. It allows them to receive a summary of your skills, experience, and other relevant background information.
Sometimes interviewers may approach the question to spark casual conversation and help you feel comfortable about the more hard-hitting questions that are to come.
However, it’s not lost on hiring managers that this question also tests an applicant’s interviewing skills. It can reveal the candidate’s communication skills and ability to pitch their value to the company.
Other Ways to Ask this Question
Depending on the interviewer, they can sometimes ask this question differently. Here are other ways they might approach the question:
- Can you tell me a little bit about your previous experience?
- Tell me something I don’t already know from looking at your resume.
- Tell me about your time working at your previous company.
- Can you give me a summary of your experience and background?
- How would you describe yourself?
- What led you to pursue a career in this field?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- I’d love to learn more about your journey and what brought you here.
How to Answer the ‘Tell Me About Yourself Interview Question
Interview questions can leave you anxious and stressed, especially open-ended questions like “tell me about yourself.” But remember, making it to the interview stage means you’re one step closer to landing your job. With the right approach, you can make the question into an opportunity.
A simple framework that can provide clarity into how to answer this question effectively to impress the interviewer with your response. Here are a few ways you can answer the question.
Consider how your current job relates to the role that you’re seeking. For example, let’s say you’re looking for a more managerial role. You can explain how you’ve been taking on more leadership responsibility in your existing position. If you’re making a lateral move with different skills involved, you can describe how your current skill set and responsibilities translate into the new role.
Past Job Experiences
Draw from your professional experiences as they relate to the position. First, you must research the company and review the job description.
From there, you can craft an elevator pitch highlighting your areas of expertise through your past job experiences. Focus on accomplishments you’ve had that would wow the interviewer, but also share how the duties are similar or related to the position you’re seeking.
Share examples and stories that specifically highlight your past job experiences. For example, you can use the STAR method to tell easy-to-understand stories:
- Situation: Share a previous work challenge you faced.
- Task: Describe the task you were assigned or the goal you had to achieve.
- Action: Explain the actions you took to overcome a challenge.
- Result: Describe the results you achieved and what you learned.
The STAR method provides a clearly defined approach to sharing relevant examples with the employer. They can receive actionable takeaways about how their past job experiences have helped prepare them for this role.
Align Your Goals with the Company
Share your goals and align them with the company as a whole. It can demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm for the role.
Let’s say you want to become a project manager for a company. You can share how their particular company excites you and how it would provide valuable experience in your career path.
Aligning your goals is a great way to connect with the interviewer, especially if you both are interested in working in the same industry. Discussing goals is an easy segue for you to discuss the current trending topics or challenges you’d like to work on within the field.
Do’s and Don’ts for Answering ‘Tell Me About Yourself’
Now that you’ve got a solid framework for answering the question, you should keep some general guidelines in mind. We’ve crafted a list of do’s and don’t to help you craft a compelling response. Use these tips to impress your potential employer and minimize interview mistakes that would hurt your chances.
Tailor your response to the company and the role.
When an interviewer asks, “tell me about yourself,” it’s a chance to share why you believe you have the right qualifications for the specific company and role. That means you’ll have to prepare in advance by researching the company, reviewing the job description, and figuring out how to share your story to show what you can bring to the company and role.
Speak with passion.
You should always keep your answers professional. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t infuse some passion about your work or the particular company.
For example, suppose you’re interviewing to become a special education teacher. You can talk about what inspired you to take this career path. Sharing your overarching mission for why you want to embark on this particular line of work can be a unique hook that shows interviewers that you’re here for more than just the money and perks of the job.
Honesty is more than showing an employer you are a candidate with integrity. If you stretch the truth, it can become apparent quickly, which can cause more serious consequences.
For example, claiming to have a skill or exaggerating your responsibilities could hurt you. Avoid exaggerating or lying about experiences or skills you have. Background checks can identify the previous employers you’ve worked for, the different qualifications you’ve earned, and the experiences you’ve gained. There’s no reason to fabricate or lie.
Say anything that could be controversial.
While you want to stand out and express who you are, avoid controversial topics that are religious, political, or news-related. If you do want to share your views, be 100% positive that your opinions will be well-received by the interviewer. Many large companies are conscious of their public image, and their employees must be politically sensitive to avoid alienating employees or customers.
Summarize your resume.
Going point-by-point through your work experience and education history won’t grab the interviewer’s attention. Your interviewer has already reviewed your resume. Instead of regurgitating your experiences, you should add context or new information that they don’t already know.
Get too personal.
It’s good to show a little personality and excitement in your response. However, you shouldn’t share your entire life story starting with your hometown and continuing onto your grade school days. Ensure you’re giving the interviewer relevant information related to the role.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Best Answer for “Tell Me About Yourself”?
The best way to answer the “tell me about yourself” question is by summarizing your career history, including relevant jobs and positions, and describing your most proud achievements. Additionally, tell the interviewer why you’re an excellent fit for your role and how you’d align with their company values.
Interviews don’t have to be a stressful experience. With preparation, you can sound confident and capable in your interview and impress your potential employer.
Once you follow our do’s and don’ts, answering this question will be a breeze. A solid response will show them you’ve come prepared and take their commitments seriously, even if you don’t have all the skills or experiences they want.
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