How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in an Interview (40+ Examples)

It can be daunting to face an interview underprepared, especially when you’re asked the dreaded question, “Tell me about yourself.”

According to experts, there are different ways to answer this question in an interview. 

Here are some excellent examples of how to respond appropriately:

Brian Vander Waal

Brian Vander Waal

Employment, Learning and Skills and Careers Information Expert

Approach it as if you’re sharing your personal brand statement or elevator pitch

To answer the question “Tell me About Yourself,” well, it is important to first understand why this question is being asked. A lot of people misunderstand the point of this question.

In part, the interviewer is asking this question to help the interviewee ease into the interview, and so they can ease into the interview themselves. However, it is so much more than that.

The interviewer is asking this question to see if:

  • You are qualified for the role,
  • You have the right skills for the role, and
  • Whether you will be an asset to the company.

They are also comparing you with other candidates, so you have the opportunity from the beginning of the interview to demonstrate that you are a good match for the role.

The purpose of this question is not:

  • To talk about your personal life and interests. If the interviewer does want to know more about this, they will ask a follow-up question.
  • To regurgitate your CV, but rather to give a concise summary of your key selling points, which are related to the job role you are applying for. Your response should be between 30 seconds and two minutes long.

When you answer this question, approach it as if you are sharing your personal brand statement, elevator pitch, or infomercial with the interviewer.

However, it should be tailored to the role and should be delivered naturally in a conversational style.

Your answer should concisely highlight:

  • Your journey and experience related to the role, talking about your current and previous jobs, and outlining quantifiable achievements in these roles.
  • Your USP (two or three unique selling points) related directly to the job role. Your selling points could include skills, strengths, qualifications, and experience.
  • Why you are applying for this role and why you want to work for this company. This may include a discussion of your career ambitions.

You should prepare for this question prior to the interview by making a list of the work experiences, soft skills, hard skills, certificates, qualifications, and degrees required for the role.

Then prepare a tailored response to the question highlighting your unique selling points, experience, and interests that relate most closely to the position.

Be aware that, in addition to recruiters asking this question to see if you are a good fit for the role and company, they also ask this question to assess:

  • your communication skills,
  • your confidence,
  • how well you can think on your feet,
  • your self-awareness, and
  • authenticity.

Example:

“I am a Senior Project Manager with 12 years of experience managing all aspects of Project Management for Fortune 500 companies, including creating project plans, developing resource plans, setting a budget, forming a team, defining goals and performance measures, and anticipating risks.

I started my journey 12 years ago as an Assistant Project Manager and worked my way up the ranks to Project Manager and now Senior Project Manager.

In my current role, I successfully set up seven projects on time, and on budget whilst ensuring I met all project objectives. I was working for a company selling healthcare software in the USA and wanted to break into the international market, starting with the UK.

I was tasked with creating a business and a market for our software in the UK in one of my projects.

During the project, I monitored progress, communication between the teams, risks, and bottlenecks and put in contingency plans as needed.

The result is that 12.2 million in sales were made to the National Healthcare Service (NHS), and 4.2 million in sales were made to private healthcare providers. I graduated from Northwestern University with a Master of Science in Project Management.

Over the past 12 years, I have developed a strong expertise in Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Risk Management, and Negotiation, which has played a large role in my success on multiple projects. While I love my current position, I am looking for an opportunity to take the next step in my career.

I believe the experience I gained and the success I have achieved on high-level, complex projects make me uniquely qualified to progress into your role as a Director of Program Management.”

Commentary on the example:

This is a strong example of how to respond to this question successfully. The interviewee concisely outlined their journey and experience related to the role, quantifiable achievements in these roles, their USP related to the job role, and why they are applying for this role.

The interviewee did not talk about personal life and interests, recite back their full CV, or discuss problems or issues with their previous employer.

Whitney D. Walter, MBA

Whitney D. Walter

Professional Development Expert

Discuss why you’re a good fit for the intended position

First, remember that they likely have your resume in front of them, so you don’t need to regurgitate what is written there or go into any extreme level of detail.

Start by discussing your current role and any skills or responsibilities that make you a good fit for the intended position. Don’t forget to mention relevant achievements or awards.

Summarize while providing a high-level overview of prior experience

Next, provide a high-level overview of prior experience. Again, avoid going into excessive detail. Summarize and be succinct while also providing color around the development of skillsets that will be applicable to the prospective role.

Avoid speaking negatively about prior companies or roles. Doing so will reflect more poorly on you than them.

Showcase your passion for professional development

Finally, transition to your current career aspirations and why you’re excited about the opportunity to discuss the open role. Use this as an opportunity to showcase your passion for professional development and your focus on finding a role that allows you to add value.

Related: 10 Best Career Development Books

Optional:

Gauge whether incorporating interests outside of work will allow you to be better aligned with the company culture and values. This is a frequently debated topic.

Many say to exclude personal interests completely, but with the rise of the company focus on employee satisfaction, it may be worth briefly mentioning things that align with their current employee benefits or programs.

For example, if you enjoy fitness and the prospective company offers to pay for employees’ gym memberships, mentioning this may help you to appear more aligned with the company’s initiative to increase and maintain employee satisfaction.

Practice your response.

This question (and its many variations) is the most frequently asked question in interviews. Practice your answer until you can say it naturally and without hesitation.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook

Director HR, Mullen and Mullen

Pick a couple of personal experiences that relate to the job role you are applying for

When you are interviewing for a company, the one question you will most likely be asked is, “Tell me about yourself.”

As a recruiter, I have seen some candidates answer this question brilliantly, and they make their case strong from the first answer. I believe you should be structuring your answer instead of telling an entire story about yourself.

When telling the interviewer about yourself, you should begin with giving a personal introduction by summarizing your personal interests and characteristics.

After talking about that briefly, you should give a brief summary of your professional life.

While talking about your professional life is important, you should focus on not going into too many details. Therefore, I would recommend you pick a couple of experiences that relate to the job role you are applying for because that would add to your profile.

Moreover, you should always end the answer with an interesting fact about you that would make the interviewer remember you and differentiate you from other candidates.

Related: How to Come up With Interesting Facts About Yourself

Valerie Fontaine

Valerie Fontaine

Legal Search Consultant | Founding Member, SeltzerFontaine LLC

Focus on the clear benefit you provide to a prospective employer

When prospective employers start their interview with “Tell me about yourself,” they really are asking, “Why should we hire you?”

Rather than responding with your life history, this is your opportunity to give your “sales pitch.” You want to communicate who you are, what you do, what differentiates you from the competition, and how you are a better fit than other candidates for the position.

Be prepared with a short statement (not more than two minutes or so), highlighting a few of your strongest skills related to the position you’re seeking, and give specific examples.

The trick is to focus on the clear benefit you provide to a prospective employer.

Get a general idea of the skills and attributes required for the type of position you seek

Think of yourself as a product and the employers as the buyers of your skill set. You’re selling your unique blend of qualifications, talents, expertise, and accomplishments.

Start by reading job listings and descriptions on company websites to get a general idea of the skills and attributes required for the type of position you seek.

Notice the language they use and repeat that terminology when describing what you have to offer a potential employer.

Related: Why Are Job Descriptions Important in the Recruiting Process?

Check if you have any skills or interests that could prove useful

Consider whether you have any tangential skills or interests that could prove useful to the employer in addition to the minimum education and experience required.

If you’re pursuing a second career or taking time out to pursue another occupational direction, such as writing, teaching, or running a business, discuss how honing the skills required to succeed in that endeavor adds value to the job you now seek.

Tell a consistent and easily understood story of your career trajectory

Practice responding with vivid examples of how you used your strengths to achieve business objectives similar to those of the prospective employer.

  • Tell a consistent and easily understood story of your career trajectory,
  • State only the relevant information, prioritizing your transferrable skills.
  • Minimize any non-related information.
  • Focus and tailor each presentation for the position you seek.

When responding to “Tell me about yourself,” if you put the puzzle pieces together for your interviewers, you’ll make it easier for them to envision you in the position—and offer you the job.

Rahul Vij

Rahul Vij

Managing Director, WebSpero Solutions

Give them reasons why they should prefer you instead of other candidates

I have taken many interviews to hire people for my company. “Tell me about yourself” is the first question asked to every interviewee.

It is a bit tricky question to answer, but some of the suggestions on how to tackle this question will be:

  1. Don’t start with the things which are already mentioned in your resume. An interviewer can read it himself.
  2. They want to know something different from the information mentioned in your resume, for instance, why this job is most important for you.
  3. Give them reasons why they should prefer you instead of other candidates.
  4. Tell them how you fit the role completely by aligning your qualification, experience, and skills with the job you have applied for.
  5. When you start talking about yourself, be humble about your achievements and don’t boast about your accomplishments.
  6. Be honest about yourself, and don’t lie about your hobbies and skills.
  7. Don’t use superlatives like best, perfect, etc.
  8. Anxiety before and during an interview is normal. So practice daily for it and be confident when interview day arrives.

Related: How to Not Be Nervous Before and During a Job Interview

Sample 1:

“Hi, I am Rahul. I have two years of experience handling sales and marketing projects in [name of the company]. The purpose of switching from the earlier company is that I have learned everything that I could to the best of my ability. So now I want to learn more things and explore the new turfs.”

Sample 2:

“Hi, I am Jacob. I have recently completed my Post Graduation in Computer Sciences. Due to my keen interest in this field, I have been able to win many laurels and awards. Thus able to represent my college in many competitions. Now I want to put my knowledge to practice, boost my self-confidence, and make the organization proud I work with.”

Chris Lewandowski

Chris Lewandowski

President, Princess Dental Staffing

Give hiring managers an idea of how you can become an asset to them if they hire you

Your “Tell me about yourself” answer can begin with you highlighting how long you’ve been in the industry to quantify your experience. Then, explain your current role and contributions to the company relevant to the new post you’re pursuing.

For example:

  • Discuss how you managed to reduce your project’s lead time due to productivity and efficiency or how you secured more clients for the brand.
  • Accordingly, it is worth mentioning if you have exceeded KPIs and client expectations in your current workplace.
  • Then, highlight the skills you possess that allow you to thrive in your career.

By doing so, you give hiring managers an idea of how your experience and qualifications can become an asset to them if they hire you.

Make the idea personal and unique

Also, to stand out among other candidates, offer a unique detail about yourself. For instance, if you’re a marketer, you may want to discuss successful projects with famous brands or partnerships with well-known public figures.

In addition, it helps if you could share some personal interests, such as advocating for specific causes or learning pottery, but always maintain a professional tone.

Lastly, don’t forget to mention your career goals for the future. Make sure you did your prior research about the prospect company’s mission, vision, and core values to align your goals to that of the business.

Lanny Tuchmayer

Lanny Tuchmayer

Director of Operations, Bergel Law

Choose where you want to begin telling your story about yourself

Allow some time before answering this question to consider where you might begin telling about yourself. You should think that your answer to this question will determine the following question you will be asked.

Emphasize your accomplishments and experience

When responding to this question, strive to emphasize your accomplishments and experience. However, all of this should be done in the context of a dialogue. It will make a favorable impression on the interviewer.

Discuss your current condition and long-term objectives

When you’re about to finish your response, think about your current circumstances and where you envision yourself in the future or what your aim is. It will assist the interviewer in understanding how you intend to achieve your objectives and plan for the future.

Example:

“When I’m not working, I enjoy learning new skills and spending the majority of my time reading books. Reading books about human psychology is one of my favorite pastimes. Learning about human psychology aided me in influencing others.

I enjoy meeting new people and consider communication to be one of the most crucial components of working life. When I first started working for my former employer, my duty was to communicate with the company’s clients and assist them in finding answers to their difficulties.

I liked assisting them and resolving their problems. Now I’m seeking more possibilities to broaden my knowledge and skills in interpersonal communication.”

Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Former Executive Recruiter | Founder, CareerSidekick

Keep your answer work-related

First, keep your answer work-related. When the interviewer asks this question, they’re looking to learn about you as a professional.

To answer, explain :

  1. How you got started in your current line of work,
  2. What you’ve been focused on throughout your career, and
  3. Any key accomplishments or significant projects you’ve worked on.

Then, end by explaining what you’re looking to do next in your career. Why are you job searching now, and why did this particular position interest you?

Example:

“I began working in software engineering seven years ago after completing my degree in computer science.

I’ve spent most of my time creating back-end systems for processing data and transactions, both for banks and online stores.

I’m now looking for a Senior Developer position to advance my career. I’m happy in my current company but also feel ready for a new challenge, so when I saw this position posted online, I knew I should apply.”

Carol Gee, MA

Carol Gee

Owner, Venus Chronicles | Author, “Telling Stories, Sharing Confidences

Show that you are a well-rounded candidate

All of the jobs I interviewed for were after I had served in the Air Force. I usually led with that when different variations were based on the position.

For example, when I interviewed to become an adjunct faculty at a two-year college, my answer was this:

“I served almost eight years on active duty in the Air Force, and I am married to a career airman. Most recently, I completed my master’s degree in Human Relations and Management.

With an undergrad degree in Sociology and a minor in psychology, I believe I am the right person to teach your Intro to Sociology, and because I am imaginative and crafty and possess good personal communication skills, I think I could do justice to the introduction to Business Comm class.”

One component of the class consisted of teaching public speaking to students.

To ease them into this, I put simple topics on slips of paper, like your favorite food, favorite movie, etc., in a paper bag where they drew a topic and spoke for one minute, two minutes, up to five minutes. Students said this was a great way to introduce them to this.

When I was interviewed for my last university position as an editor at a local business school before retiring, I answered thusly:

“Before applying to this position, I was employed at XYX Nursing School (same campus), where I worked in Development (fundraising), assisting the director with hosting fundraising lunches and dinners. I planned menus and worked with caterers to plan meals for donors, including foundation and corporation heads.

I also scheduled fundraising appointments for the directors to visit donors and processed money received. This job was followed by nearly 13 years at the School of Public Health, where I ran the day-to-day of a department that included supervision of staff and student workers.”

As the job required copyediting research, I mentioned I was a published author and freelance writer and that I also had a master’s degree as this was a business school.

Lastly, I mentioned I had excellent research skills as I did technical research during my 21 years in the military. (I brought samples of published articles to the interview, one of which was a business article in a local magazine.

My goal was to show that I was a well-rounded candidate.

Adina David

Adina David

Recruiter and Career Coach, Paperjobz

This question asking to describe yourself may seem like an easy enough question, but many people are put off by it because they don’t know where to start or what to say.

In fact, many candidates forget their manners and simply ramble on about themselves, never really giving any answer at all!

When recruiters ask “Tell Me About Yourself,” they are trying to get a sense of what it is that the candidate does and how he will fit into the company. They want to know about your experience and achievement.

It can be difficult to answer this question without sounding like you’re bragging, but there are a few tips to approach it.

Adjust your answers as per the situation

Pay attention to the nature of the job and organization you’re interviewing for and adjust your answers as per the situation.

For example, if you’re interviewing with a software company and they are definitely interested in your strong programming skills.

Focus on strengths and abilities; don’t ever talk about your weaknesses

When you’re talking to the interviewer, concentrate on your strengths and what you can do best.

Don’t ever talk about your weaknesses (unless they ask). You can play it safe by mentioning that you are a self-starter and motivated when it comes to completing tasks.

Related: Best Job Interview List of Strengths and Weaknesses

Highlight your personality and how you’ve done well in previous roles

Be honest, but try not to sound like you’re trying to sell yourself!

This is a good opportunity to talk about your background, how you’ve done well in previous roles, and the skills that you would bring to this role.

Act professionally: This is a great way to have them see you in a different light

Act like you are the best candidate for this job. This is a great way to have someone see you in a different light. So, be confident and approachable.

This is not a magic formula, but it is a great way to give yourself the best chance of getting the job. As long as you just keep practicing, success will come to you.

So there are a lot of ways to answer this question, but here are some of my favorite answers for both freshers as well as experienced professionals.

Example answer for freshers:

“I completed my bachelor’s from XYZ college. I then searched for a job for about six months. This is something that I am very proud of.

During my spare time, I work on my skills and get more experience. After that, I found your company, and I applied for the [Position Name] position. This job is perfect for me, and it will allow me to use the skills gained from my education.

I am looking forward to working with you. I can work hard, learn new things and contribute to the team.”

Example answer for experienced professionals:

“I have experience in [Field Name], and I love using my talent and skills for solving problems and making improvements. I can do so by listening carefully, gathering information, understanding needs, and finding solutions.

I always go the extra mile in my job, even to the point of going above and beyond my responsibilities. I hope to become a part of your team because I am really ready to take my career to the next level.”

Maciek Kubiak

Maciek Kubiak

Head of People, PhotoAiD

Give the interviewer a snapshot of who you are professionally and personally

That question is definitely difficult to answer. “Tell me about yourself” is often the first question asked in an interview. It’s a broad question, and your answer should aim to give the interviewer a snapshot of who you are as a person, both professionally and personally.

Your response should tell a story that gives an overview of your professional and educational background, as well as your skills and accomplishments.

The key is to stay focused on giving the interviewer the information they need to decide whether or not you’re the right candidate for the job.

Here are some tips on how to answer “Tell me about yourself” in an interview:

  1. Start by giving a brief overview of your professional experience, emphasizing any relevant skills or experience that you have.
  2. Describe how you would qualify yourself in terms of broad professional and personal traits. This includes being flexible, goal-driven, ambitious, and so on.
  3. Finish by summarizing your goals and objectives and explaining why you are interested in the position you are being interviewed for.

Here is an example:

“I am a strategic planner with five years of experience in market research and brand strategy. I thrive in fast-paced environments and am always looking for new challenges.

I see myself as a problem solver who can think outside the box to come up with creative solutions. And I’m excited about this opportunity because it matches my skill set and the experience I’ve accumulated up to now.”

Catherine van Vonno

Catherine van Vonno

President and CEO, 20four7VA

It’s important to have a clear goal in mind when talking about yourself

Telling people about yourself can sometimes be the hardest topic to talk about. Things such as what you are going to tell them or how you will say it can play a big role in how the conversation will flow.

Not to mention, you would need to make your dialogue interesting and insightful for the interviewer.

When talking about yourself, ensure that you can clearly relay the points you want to discuss and elaborate on.

  • Eliminate the fluff in your storytelling and emphasize how you can contribute to the company’s well-being.
  • When talking about yourself in an interview, you have to be transparent and as confident as you can be.
  • Being clear and confident with your life story can help you stay in control of the conversation and show that you can make wise decisions.
  • You can start by creating a rough outline of your journey.

Think about the critical milestones in your life and how these events have shaped who you are today. Once you have an idea of what to say, practice it aloud with close friends or family members to make sure that everything is clear and well-articulated.

When speaking about yourself, always be honest and authentic. The interviewer will likely be able to see through any facade you put up, so it is best just to be yourself.

Next, it is important to have a clear goal in mind when talking about yourself. Often, interviewers will ask you about your motivations and long-term goals for the company, so make sure that you have a solid answer lined up.

You can also do some research on the company beforehand to see if you share any common interests.

For example, if you are both passionate about environmental sustainability, you can mention how you would love to help the company achieve its green goals.

Lastly, always remember to end on a positive note. Thank the interviewer for their time and express your excitement for the opportunity. This will leave a good impression and show that you are genuinely interested in the position.

Lee Cristina Beaser, CPRW

Lee Cristina Beaser

Master’s in Career Counseling | Career Coach, The Career Counter

Discuss your most recent experience and how it led you to apply for the position

Candidates tend to ramble and get off-topic. I always stress that the interviewer does not want to know your life story. They want to know what led you to apply for the job.

I’ve got a framework I encourage my clients to use for answering this question.

First, try to keep your answer under two minutes. Start by giving a brief snapshot of the early stages of your career, connecting the skills and experiences you gained that led you toward the job you’re applying for.

Lastly, discuss your most recent experience, what you learned, and how it led you to apply for the position.

Here’s a sample answer:

“I got my BA degree in Communications, and during my studies, I completed fieldwork that allowed me to build my project management and event coordination skills. After graduation, I worked for four years as an event coordinator for a large corporation.

During that time, I helped plan and execute small to large-scale events with upwards of 50,000 attendees. Most recently, I was promoted to the same company as an event manager.

For the past several years, I’ve overseen events with $1M budgets, as well as an event staff of 20. My passion for managing projects and leading cross-functional teams in executing large-scale events is what led me to apply for the event director role.”

Brett Larkin

Brett Larkin

Founder & CEO, Uplifted Yoga

Sell yourself beyond specific industry skills or relevant past experiences

Many people who spend their time job-hunting tend to put their entire focus on the actual position they’re vying for, and not how their skills and personality fit that position.

Remember, recruiters are looking for people who can:

  • Succeed based on the job requirements, and
  • Bring a positive and open energy into the workplace.

Especially since the pandemic, businesses are prioritizing the overall employee experience in an attempt to boost retention. Bringing a new person into the workplace can seriously shift the dynamic and culture, so personality is just as important as skill or talent.

This is why the question, “Tell me about yourself,” is so important. This is your opportunity to sell yourself beyond specific industry skills or relevant past experiences.

Here are some ways to answer that question if you’re feeling stuck:

  • Discuss your hobbies

Focus on one specific hobby. We all have hobbies, and if you don’t, you should get one! Hobbies are fantastic representations of our personalities and preferences beyond the business world.

Instead of trying to get as much information out as possible, focus on one specific activity or hobby that makes up a large part of your personal life.

Focusing on a hobby provides perfect segues to talk about your family, educational experience, or even what you were like growing up.

  • Honesty is key

Just be honest. Answer the question for face value, and don’t try to twist your answer back to being about the company or the position you’re interviewing for.

Remember, the people who are hiring you actually want to know you.

An honest, real answer will go over way better than something that is overly planned and not related to the actual question.

  • Use your cover letter

Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself in your initial cover letter and application. People often write cover letters that are too formal, and they just come across as walls of text and rambling to recruiters, including myself.

When I’m reading a cover letter, I want to get an idea of who this person is beyond them wanting this job. Be more creative with your cover letters. In today’s hyper-competitive business world, a little creativity can go a long way in setting you apart from your competitors.

Related: What Is the Purpose of a Cover Letter When Applying for a Job

David Chen, DDS

David Chen

Practicing Dentist, Jackson Ave Dental

Every office that I’ve worked at had a monthly production goal plastered to the wall of the break room and that number was the metric for success. Whenever situations arise where we would have to choose between the number or the well-being of an employee, the former would always prevail.

I’ve always believed that it was the people who were the business’s greatest asset but business decisions always made it appear otherwise.

I’ve always wondered why that was the case and why it was done that way.

  • Could it be possible to do things differently?
  • Can we build a place where we put our staff first and still flourish as a business?

I’ve spent the last 5 years of my life in an attempt to answer that singular question.

How you should answer it should be more akin to writing a personal statement

The vast majority of people are trying to answer this question, when in fact it is not even a question. It is technically a directive statement. How you should answer it should be more akin to writing a personal statement.

If you’ve applied for higher education, they expect you to write a one and a half-page response to two words with no further instructions. Personal statement.

My tip for how to answer it:

Do not rehash what is in your resume because if your interviewer wanted to know that, they would simply read it. What they actually want to know is more about you and at a deeper level.

More precisely, you can rephrase the statement into a question and that would be:

“Who are you? What drives you and what makes you you?”

Alan Ahdoot

Alan Ahdoot

Legal Specialist, Adamson Ahdoot LLP

Be a candidate who will readily and eagerly join in their efforts and is in line with their principles

I like to hear responses that speak to a person’s desire to help the less fortunate because that is a big part of our mission. I want the comfort of knowing that their pursuits square up with ours.

We operate in a space in which people can easily prejudge us as ambulance chasers or attorneys who are out to get quick bucks out of insurance companies and other plaintiffs with deep pockets.

We are a reputable firm that seeks to help the underprivileged. We consider it an honor to represent honest-working people who are, in many cases, immigrants seeking a better life.

We look for people who fit in well with our culture, and we expect to hear responses to “Tell Me About Yourself” to be framed in a way that makes us believe we’re talking to a candidate who understands the importance of pursuing justice for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.

So many of our attorneys and employees are active in the Latino, African-American, Jewish and Middle-Eastern communities. We want candidates who will readily and eagerly join us in those efforts.

It comforts us when we hear responses that are in line with our principles.

AJ Silberman-Moffitt

AJ Silberman-Moffitt

Senior Editor, Tandem

As an office professional with 25+ years of experience, I have been a part of many interviews—both when I have been the interviewer and when I have been the interviewee.

As with many work-related questions, there isn’t only one right or wrong answer—especially when trying to find the best way to answer “Tell me about yourself” in an interview.

Be honest; don’t say something that isn’t true

You’ve probably repeatedly heard that honesty is the best policy, and there is a reason for that. When answering about yourself, or any question during an interview, it’s best to be honest.

This doesn’t mean that you must go into minute details about everything, but more importantly, don’t say something that isn’t true.

Related: What Not to Say in a Job Interview

Be concise; try to keep your answer to the point

Try to keep your answer short and to the point. If the interviewer needs you to elaborate, they will ask you. There is no need to give extensive details unless you are specifically asked to.

Direct your answer towards your professional accomplishments and abilities

Typically, during most of the interview, the interviewer wants to garner how much knowledge you have about the role they are trying to fill.

This means that your answer should probably be directed more towards your professional accomplishments and abilities rather than your personal life.

If, however, it’s the end of the interview, this would be an appropriate time to elaborate about the softball team that you are on or the crafting that you do on the weekends.

Be courteous; do not interrupt the interviewer while you’re being questioned

Do your best not to interrupt the interviewer while you are being questioned. If the interviewer happens to accidentally talk over you while you are answering, let them interject and answer appropriately.

Remember, first impressions are lasting impressions, and, in addition to your skills, your attitude will also go a long way in landing you the perfect job.

Jeff Mains

Jeff Mains

Entrepreneur | CEO, Champion Leadership Group LLC

Managers would like to hear an overview of your professional background

First of all, don’t go into great detail about your profession or personal life with them.

It could seem logical to commence from the beginning and guide the recruiter through your professional experience, but this is not something I encourage.

Managers aren’t interested in hearing about your personal history, and they aren’t fascinated by every job you’ve ever had.

They really would like to hear an overview of your professional background.

Stressing any particular career transitions which need explanation, concentrating on some of the most significant or recent responsibilities, essential abilities that you have gained, as well as every notable accomplishment that is a tribute to the excellent work that you have accomplished.

 Mark Valderrama

Mark Valderrama

CEO and Founder, Aquarium Store Depot

Correctly structure your response

I would say that you should begin by summarising your current or most recent experience.

Explain the many chapters or major positions in your career, focusing on the recent five to ten years, for the ‘past’ component of the formula.

Concentrate on what you’ve learned that applies to the position you’re applying for.

Additionally, you might quickly explain any unexpected career choices or employment changes that may not be immediately apparent.

This is critical for prospective employers, especially if the employment was brief. Then proceed to the future.

Justify your next move by describing what you’re seeking and why the role they’re offering is such a wonderful fit for your talents and experience. Additionally, highlight how the company’s ideals connect with your own.

David Reid

David Reid

Sales Director, VEM Tooling

Work experience should account for around 80% of your response

Work should account for around 80% of your response. It would be best to concentrate on your previous experience and accomplishments here, while the next 10-15% of your answer should be about your academic background. Finally, the last 5-10% should focus on you while remaining relevant to the company.

A possible response from a seasoned professional may be:

“Sure, I’d be delighted to. For the past eight years, I’ve worked as a tech-focused project manager. I earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in computer science from University B. Following that, I began working in the sector as an executive assistant at Company D.

I offered business support services by assisting with interdepartmental communication, scheduling, and maintaining the digital filing system.

After that, I spent roughly five years as a project manager for Company A, a cloud computing solutions provider. There, I was in charge of four software project teams and ensured that everything ran smoothly regarding business objectives, timelines, budget, and other factors.

I like to read about robotics, AI, and technology. I figured I’d apply because you guys do all three.”

Kavin Patel

Kavin Patel

Founder and CEO, Convrrt

Make sure you explain why you want this particular job

I believe the ideal technique to answer, “Tell me about yourself” is to make sure you explain why you want this particular job and how you’re qualified for it in a brief and clear manner.

Spend some time reading through the job description in the recruitment ad for the position and researching the organization before you start constructing your selling points.

Then you’ll know exactly what qualifications the hiring manager is seeking in terms of education and work experience.

A short script outlining your relevant abilities, strengths, and areas of knowledge should next be written. If you’re interested in advancing your career or taking on new responsibilities, talk about why you seek the position in your cover letter.

Finish with a sentence or two describing why you want to work for this particular organization.

Alice Li

Alice Li

Owner and CEO, First Day

Don’t dread the interview

When you’re asked “Tell me about yourself” in an interview, it’s natural to dread answering it correctly, but only if you don’t know what’s the right way to respond.

Truth is there’s no single best answer to this open-ended question that the interviewer asks to get to know what kind of a person you are and to break the ice as well before delving into detail-oriented questions.

Tailor your answer and practice it

Depending upon where you are in your professional journey, you have to tailor your answer in a way that actually meets the employer’s needs.

You could be a student about to graduate, a mother who took a break from a career, or a mid-level professional who has a decade of experience or more. So in each scenario, your answer will have to be different.

Following is a comprehensive example on how to answer this question the right way:

If you are a student about to graduate, you can say:

“I graduated with a degree in XYZ recently and the reason I chose this field is because I was interested in ___ and since childhood.

Some people told me that this field could lead to great career opportunities and one of my accomplishments is that I am really proud of this project dealing with ___ during my internship at ___.

I also got to speak about it at a conference last week which was an amazing experience as well. I just got done with this internship so I am now looking for full-time opportunities.”

As you can see from this answer, it’s clear and concise. There are no ramblings. The answer addresses every aspect an interviewer might be interested in and it follows the past present future format that’s easy to follow.

Lily Wili

Lily Wili

Designer | Founder, Everwallpaper

Job interview questions such as “Tell me about yourself” are very sure to come up in most job screenings, regardless of your profession, your levels of expertise, or the nature of the job.

Because it is often the first question asked during an interview, it is your best opportunity to create an excellent first impression.

Now that you know what to expect, here’s how to nail your first significant interview question.

Related: How to Nail a Job Interview

Make a positive first impression when you engage

Your first paragraph should act as a foundation for who you are as a professional, a summary declaration highlighting your accomplishments while also providing a glimpse into your personality.

Sell your knowledge and experience

You’re mistaken if you think the interviewer has thoroughly studied your résumé and understands your credentials. Use your impromptu speech to quickly emphasize at least two to four things that distinguish and separate you from the competition.

Provide a clear statement of your goals with the company

Finally, explain why you are the perfect candidate for the role and how they can benefit from your expertise.

Lark Allen

Lark Allen

Content Marketing Specialist, Drive Research

Practice out loud what you’ll say

It’s totally normal to feel a little uneasy answering this question. However, if you prep for this question—even just a little bit—before your interview, you’ll be far less stressed.

Here are a couple of tips to follow to prepare for this question:

  1. Make a note for yourself.
    • Even though you obviously know who you are, it’s easy to blank out on basic info.
    • Jot down where you’re from, a brief educational and professional background, and maybe even a hobby you enjoy.
  2. Practice (out loud) what you’ll say.
    • You want to make sure you don’t answer for too long or short of time.

Consider this checklist when utilizing the above tips:

  • Where did you go to school?
  • What key skills did you gain from your courses?
  • What did you learn in your job and/or internship experiences?
  • What are certain hobbies you like to do outside of school/work?

Samantha Odo

Samantha Odo

Licensed Real Estate Expert, Precondo

Talk about your interests and hobbies; these can explain a lot about your characteristics

The statement “Tell me about yourself” can ask for many different things depending on who is asking them. A new acquaintance might want to know your general likes and dislikes, but an employer would want to gauge why you would be the perfect fit for the job they have to offer.

You do not need to talk about your academic and career achievements to prove something. Instead, you would be talking about your interests and hobbies.

Whether you like reading in your free time or if solving puzzles is your favorite past-time. Do you take an interest in volunteer work?

Things like these explain a lot about your characteristics.

  • Having a habit of reading books can lead to the inference that you are open to looking at things from a different viewpoint.
  • Having an interest in volunteering can show that you are interested in contributing to the welfare of others, something that will be required in a lot of jobs.
  • Being a puzzle enthusiast means you are good at brainstorming and can develop out-of-the-box solutions.

Related: Why Are Books Important?

Usually, recruiters would try to test if you are speaking the truth.

Maybe, they would ask you about your favorite book or which social cause you are most drawn to. Or, maybe, they would give you a real-life problem to provide a solution for in minutes.

It is, therefore, important to be truthful with your answer. And your selection depends on the positive habits you instill in yourself, which takes years.

An example can be:

“I like to go out on a walk with my dog, Jerry, when I am done with my work. Often, there are lots of dog-lovers who enthusiastically come to talk to me and coo at Jerry.

It is always fascinating to see how many directions conversations arise from my dog can take. I believe these experiences have been helpful to my profession, which has always required me to have impeccable communication skills.”

Nathan Hughes

Nathan Hughes

Marketing Director, Diggity Marketing

It’s advisable to speak about how you view your career goals

Recruiters wish to know details about your life that are not a part of your resume.

These details border your personal life, but the twist is that they must be helpful to understand your capabilities. However, it is often daunting to choose which aspect to speak on.

Under such circumstances, it is advisable to speak about how you view your career goals.

It is a more direct approach to the question, and it also provides the recruiters with what they need about you.

  • You can talk about where you are in your career now and which of your personal interests have led you to choose the career you have.
  • You can brief the recruiter on which of your past experiences have hugely impacted your career.
  • It is a good idea to end such a description with where you see yourself in the future.
  • It is important to make sure that anything you answer aligns with the job you are applying for.

Recruiters often follow up your replies with much deeper questions.

For example, if you talk about how your interest in coding led to you wanting to become a data scientist, the recruiter might naturally ask you why data science was a choice and not any other coding-related profession.

It is necessary for applicants to consider such follow-up questions and keep answers ready beforehand. Being genuine about the answers would make the process a lot easier.

For example:

“In my younger days, how consumers chose one brand over other similar ones was an interesting concept to me. There was never a size-one-fit-all approach by brands, but it needed them to experiment with different strategies.

Only a few of those strategies would work the best for them, and it was fascinating to understand the reason behind them.

Working as a marketing team leader for (name of a brand working for which was impactful) was a huge milestone, teaching me more than just marketing strategies and consumer behavior, but team management.

Such an experience built a goal that I wish to fulfill soon- becoming an efficient marketing manager in a reputed organization such as (the name of the company you are interviewing at).”

Craig Miller

Craig Miller

Co-Founder, Academia Labs LLC

Highlight your academic and career achievements

When answering a “Tell Me About Yourself” question during an interview, do not start telling the interview panel details from your elementary days.

Instead, highlight your academic and career achievements. This will give more emphasis on why you are perfect for the job.

Here’s an example:

“I am (Name). I finished my tertiary education in (University or College Name) and completed my internship at (Company name).

I also have worked in (Previous company) for (number) years. During my stay there, I have demonstrated a great deal of leadership and resourcefulness in completing my tasks.

I have spearheaded several projects, such as (Project name), which produced great results (You can describe the project in detail here). During my free time, I enjoy (hobbies).”

Adelle Archer

Adelle Archer

Co-Founder and CEO, Eterneva

Develop an elevator pitch telling how others perceive you and your track record as an employee

Although it seems like a straightforward question, the “Tell me about yourself” interview query is really a test to see how organized and clear thinking you are, which is why your first consideration should be succinctness.

No one expects you to cover the full scope of your life or even your career in a single interview, but they do want to see how personable and informative you can be in a short period of time.

You must develop an elevator pitch that tells what you have been doing, how others perceive you, your career goals and interests, strengths, and your track record as an employee.

By creating a concise elevator pitch in which you can cover all the bases, quickly, clearly, and in a positive manner, you will be demonstrating your abilities to cover the task and do so economically and professionally.

Yauhen Zaremba

Yauhen Zaremba

Director of Demand Generation, Pandadoc

Be conversational: It’s a good way to keep things light

Don’t answer it as if it’s scripted and don’t focus solely on things related to business and the work you do. Instead, create a conversation and chat with the interviewer.

Talk about relevant things that they know about or can relate to; give them a chance to respond to what you’re saying, and don’t script anything.

Being able to converse with the interviewer and keeping things relaxed are good ways to keep things light. Answering “Tell me about yourself” with some nice conversation is a great way to open the interview and get in the interviewer’s good graces!

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