How to Answer The “Tell Me About Yourself Interview” Question

The “Tell me about yourself” question in an interview can be tough if you’re not ready. Job hunting can be stressful, especially during tough economic times, and this question can make it even more awkward.

How To Answer The "Tell Me About Yourself Interview" Question
How To Answer The “Tell Me About Yourself Interview” Question

You might find it hard to answer the “Tell me about yourself” question because it’s open-ended and personal. But if you plan your responses ahead of time, it becomes easier to confidently talk about your achievements.

Here are some top tips to help you structure and succeed in your response.

Why Do Interviewers Ask, “Tell me about yourself”

A job interview is a way for the employer to know you better. They use the “tell me about yourself” question to shift from casual talk to more serious interview questions.

The interviewer wants to see if you can talk clearly and professionally. It’s not good if you freeze when put on the spot for the first time. The interviewer hopes your answer feels natural, showing that you’re ready and serious about the interview. A strong answer can make you stand out.

If it’s a video or phone interview, you can have your answers in front of you. But for in-person interviews, you should be ready to answer without notes.

Interviewers Might Ask This Question in Different ways

  1. Tell me more about your background.
  2. I want to know more about you.
  3. Talk about your time at “x” company.
  4. Share more about your experience.
  5. Tell me something not on your resume.

Prepare a practiced answer to handle any version of this question.

How To Answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question 

There are various ways to tackle the “tell me about yourself” interview question. How you answer it depends on your past experiences. For instance, someone who just graduated will answer differently from a director with many years of work under their belt.

While it’s vital to prepare your response, it’s also important not to make it sound overly rehearsed. Once you settle on a format that suits your background, practice it. Write down your answer, so you can adjust it, ensure it flows well, and remember the key points.

Whichever approach you choose, make sure it relates to the specific job and company you’re interviewing for. Your answer should make the interviewer believe you’re genuinely interested in the position.

Here Are the Important Components of Your Response

  1. Current situation: Share your present job and mention a recent accomplishment or positive feedback. Avoid being negative about your current position.

The interviewer wants to see how your current role relates to the one you’re applying for. If you’re a student, discuss relevant school experiences, such as classes, projects, or internships.

  1. Past job experience: The interviewer likely has your resume, so don’t repeat what they already know. Instead, touch on your work history and highlight aspects relevant to the position you’re pursuing.

Describe your past roles chronologically. If you switched industries, briefly explain why, using a personal anecdote to show your passions or interests.

  1. Your “why”: Explain why you chose to apply for this job and why you’re the ideal candidate. Use this time to market yourself and communicate your motivation. If you’ve tailored the other parts of your answer to the job you’re applying for, this part should be straightforward.

Showcase how this role aligns with your career goals to demonstrate your commitment to success.

  1. Aligning with the company/role: Research the company culture and align your answer with it. If both you and the company value teamwork or independent work, mention it.

Also, if you have additional interests or skills that make you an asset to the company, bring them up. Understanding the company’s overall mission will help you tailor your “why.”

For instance, if the company values work-life balance, don’t talk about your love for working nights and weekends to complete projects.

How Long Should Your Answer Be?

Interviewers want to know about your job history and what you’re like as a person. If you keep your answer too short, it might seem like you’re not giving enough information. But if you talk too much, it could make them think you’ll do the same in meetings.

Aim to answer in one to three minutes. Pay attention to the interviewer’s body language, and if they seem interested in something you said, you can talk more about that.

Dos and Don’ts For Answering “Tell Me About Yourself”

When answering the “tell me about yourself” interview question, there are some important rules to follow. Interviewers expect certain things, so it’s best not to stray too far from them.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Stay positive.
  2. Avoid talking negatively about past jobs.
  3. Keep your job departure reasons simple.
  4. Don’t dive into long-term plans; save that for later.
  5. Know about the company you’re interviewing with.
  6. Focus on examples you can measure.
  7. Highlight your personality through hobbies, volunteer work, or team participation.

And here’s what not to do:

  1. Don’t get overly personal; avoid politics, religion, marital status, and kids.
  2. Don’t memorize responses; keep it natural.
  3. Share examples with your strengths, not just stating them.
  4. Keep your self-description concise and professional.
  5. Don’t list everything on your resume; emphasize what’s relevant and what you enjoyed about each role.

Bottom Line 

In a nutshell, when responding to the “tell me about yourself” interview question, keep it positive, professional, and concise.

Focus on your work-related experiences, avoid getting too personal, and tailor your response to the company and job you’re applying for.

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