As soon as someone says, “Tell us an interesting fact about yourself,” somehow everything we know about ourselves flies out the window.
It might be easier to come up with an answer if the scenario you’re in is informal or just a casual conversation with people you just met. But what if this question comes up during a job interview? It’s a whole different thing.
So how do you come up with interesting facts about yourself? Here are some insights that will help you respond to questions like this on the spot, while still keeping your cool.
Financial Advisor | Author | Speaker | Community Volunteer | Owner, Incremental Improvements
The facts you put together should get the attention of the other person
When crafting a bio, or putting together interesting facts about yourself, it helps to think about what the reader or listener would find surprising, unique, or funny.
For instance, if you’re just stating straightforward biographical facts about where and what you studied, where you’ve worked and what you’ve done, it may sound very similar to what others have to say about themselves. So, it’s important to think about incorporating elements to set yourself apart from the rest.
For instance, think about facts that might incorporate celebrities or well-known figures in a certain field.
- Interviewed Curt Gowdy, Wayne Huizenga, Marcus Allen, John Smoltz, Jon Lester, Terry Francona, Pat Williams, Jim Otto, Mike Haynes, Art Shell, Grant Hill, and more.
- Studied with David Swensen (manager of the Yale Endowment Fund), and Robert Shiller (Economics Nobel Prize winner).
- Broke a story about Jared Cook’s shoes being stolen by TSA Agents, which was picked up by ESPN, TMZ, and Bleacher Report.
Humor can also be used effectively, especially if it helps to make your facts seem more memorable.
- Fans of the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game” will appreciate that my Bacon number is three (actually it’s two, but the three paths seem cooler).
- My great-grandfather circumcised Senator Joe Lieberman.
- Won a poetry contest at the age of five.
- Chauffeured Roger Ibbotson not once, but twice, and got into a heated argument about the role of mark to market accounting in the financial crisis of 2007.
The element of surprise, or sharing something unique, can also help your facts to stand out in the mind of the reader or listener.
- Appeared onscreen with Lea Thompson.
- Threw out a first pitch at a baseball game.
- Played on the same intramural softball team as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
But it’s also important to put forth facts that show you’re an expert in your field, demonstrating leadership or subject mastery.
- Author of a book that reached #1 on Amazon’s Personal Transformation list.
- Judged a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition for young entrepreneurs.
- Delivered a Continuing Legal Education seminar at the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in New York City.
- Appeared on the red carpet for the 2020 NFL Honors ceremony.
The bottom line is, the facts you put together should get the attention of the person hearing or seeing them. Ideally, each fact is intriguing, yet concise enough to pique the curiosity of the other person to get them to ask you for more details, hopefully opening up a longer and more in-depth conversation.
Contributing HR Professional, Choosing Therapy
Consider the audience
The approach to coming up with interesting facts about yourself depends on whether the facts will be used for personal reasons (such as team building) or business development reasons (as in attracting potential clients to your site.)
Let’s assume it’s for personal reasons. Keep in mind that what you find interesting about yourself may not be interesting to others wanting to learn more about you. What I do is think back to things I’ve said or shared in my past that have raised an eyebrow by others when I said them. This may include things like having flipped a house, backpacked across Europe, or been published in 75 media outlets.
Consider the audience. What about you would they find interesting.
Assuming it’s the latter, I start by reviewing the recommendations I have on LinkedIn as well as note cards and thank yous stored in electronic or paper files. Then I pull out the exact words from those documents, testimonial like, and share them. That way you not only tell others interesting facts about yourself, but those facts are validated by a third-party, such as a former client or employer.
Examples from my own background are “she can keep multiple plates spinning in the air at once” or “saved $2M in training costs on an ERP project.”
Viktor Sander, B.Sc., B.A.
Counselor Specialized in Interpersonal Communication and Relationships | Scientific Advisor and Partner, SocialPro
One powerful method is to visualize unusual events in your life
Our brain is evolved to remember what stands out, and we can use this to our advantage. When you consciously focus on what stood out, your mind starts playing a reel of unusual, interesting things that you have experienced. You can pick and choose what’s appropriate from this reel and use it as an interesting fact about yourself.
Certified Health and Wellness Coach | Founder and Managing Editor, Zivadream
Here are a few ways to come up with interesting facts about yourself:
Make a timeline
Plot out a timeline from the day you were born, and think of noteworthy times in your life. This might help jog your memory about your heritage, your family tree or special events from your life, or awards or achievements you may have forgotten.
Interview friends and relatives
Many times we forget about our strengths or events that have happened in our lives. Those closest to you, such as a best friend, parent, or sibling, may remember a significant detail you have overlooked. They may even have a different view of you, remembering your kindnesses or services you have performed for others.
One way to remember things is to journal in detail about a significant event or special time in your life. Or you can make a list of 25 things you are most proud of. Lists like this can be fun, such as your top 10 vacations, or favorite hobbies and help you recall new details about your life in a different way.
Founder & CEO, FMRU Clothing
Emphasize what makes you different from the norm
Whether people know it or not, they are, in fact, interesting in one way or another. No two people are completely alike, and this gives an opportunity for everyone to come up with interesting facts about themselves.
People find things that are different from the norm, particularly more interesting. With that being said, how do you come up with these different things?
By taking the things you would deem you do that makes you different than most and taking it a step further, you can make anything you do interesting by telling a compelling story that you are proud to share.
If you knit as a hobby, that fact alone is not entirely interesting, but if you went into detail about what you knit and who it was for, you could create a story worth being heard. For example, sticking with our knitting example, “My name is Suzy, and an interesting fact about me is knitting.” OR “My name is Suzy, and I love to knit clothing of all kinds. My latest project is knitting sweaters for my dog to match the theme of the occasion. The most recent theme was Christmas, and I made a Santa sweater for him – see the attached picture its hilarious!”
An example for myself, instead of saying, “I’m an entrepreneur.” I say, “I created an Artificial Intelligence-driven, online shopping platform that brings your favorite mall anywhere in the world.” This answer explains enough to attract interest but not enough to give someone all the details, peaking the need for follow up questions – a sign of interest.
My point is to come up with something interesting; you don’t have to re-invite yourself or lie. Simply put, you just have to be proud of the little things you do and emphasize what makes you different from the norm.
President & Co-Founder, Chow-Bryant
Back in the day, I used to write a lot of biographies for various reports and articles at the University of Houston. There were two tactics that I learned then that I still use to this day:
Make sure it’s something you’re okay with having to talk about a lot
When you’re trying to come up with an interesting fact, make sure it’s something you’re okay with having to talk about a lot. If you want to make your interesting fact that you’re a cancer survivor, you have to be ready to talk a lot about going through treatment.
If you want people to know that you donated a lot to a specific organization, you have to be ready for people to ask for a donation and/or have a problem with the organization you donated to. Basically, you have to be prepared for people to have opinions and want to know more.
For this reason, it’s best to stick with personal accomplishments or serendipitous events you were part of.
An interesting fact has to be something that makes people want to know more
If the fact doesn’t give enough detail or leave room for curiosity, it won’t create the kind of interest you’d hope. For instance, saying that you work in public relations is maybe interesting, but saying that you work in public relations for a specific industry or organization is likely to entice people to ask questions about the organization or industry. You have to make sure that your statement causes people to want to know more.
Travel Photographer, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Wit and Folly
When it comes to sharing interesting facts about yourself, you might initially draw a blank or think you have to come up with something extremely impressive.
It can be an uncomfortable question to face if you’re not used to thinking about yourself in this way, or if you don’t like being put in the spotlight. However, I think answering the question of what makes you interesting doesn’t have to be daunting or inauthentic. To come up with interesting facts about yourself, you need to:
Think about what your passions or hobbies are outside of your job
Do you have a story or experience you can tell that relates to one of your hobbies? For example, if you love to travel, sharing a story about one of your travel adventures is a great way to break the ice while also depicting something that’s uniquely your own narrative.
Maybe you have a special talent or skill set? Perhaps you play a musical instrument or speak multiple languages? Sometimes even asking your friends what your “quirks” give insight into a talent or skill you hadn’t even realized you had.
Another way to come up with something interesting about yourself is to think about who are your role models are, or what your favorite books are all about.
Is there someone or something that’s greatly impacted your life? And if so, in what way?
Ultimately, what you might find “ordinary” or uninteresting about yourself may, in fact, be quite extraordinary to someone else. It’s all about looking at yourself from a different perspective and sharing experiences that are unique to you and your journey.
Marketing Copywriter | Lifestyle Blogger
To come up with interesting facts about yourself, you could think about:
Your childhood hobbies
As adults, many people leave their childhood hobbies in the past. However, those pastimes can say a lot about a person! For example, someone who is an accountant might have loved painting as a child, but you wouldn’t be able to see the creative side of that person just from working with him or her. It’s an interesting fact because you wouldn’t have guessed it!
The things people compliment you on
People compliment others on things they find appealing or interesting. If people like your outfit, sometimes they compliment you on it because it stands out to them in a positive way. My eyes are two different colors (one is bluish-green, and the other is brown). Sometimes people notice it and compliment me on it, but other times people don’t notice unless they look me directly in the eyes. However, every time I use that as my interesting fact, people think it’s cool!
What’s on your bucket list
People’s aspirations are interesting, especially far-fetched ones. Bucket lists are often reserved for exotic trips, big accomplishments, etc. That makes it a great starting point to come up with interesting facts about yourself.
What your dating app profile says
You can often tell a lot about people’s personalities by what their dating profile says. Sometimes, people plainly write the things they like. Other times, they use sarcasm or jokes to convey their personalities through the screen. If you want to share an interesting fact about yourself, simply tell people what your Tinder bio says!
The most exotic place you’ve visited
Travel destinations are always interesting topics of discussion. If you can’t think of anything else, tell people about your most exotic vacation or the craziest thing that’s happened to you on a trip.
Something you do in your spare time that not many people know about
If you have a secret hobby or something you do in your free time discreetly, that could be an interesting thing to share. You could say, “None of my friends know this, but I do ________ in my free time.” That’s instantly intriguing because it’s exclusive knowledge!
Little things in life that make you happy
Interesting facts don’t always have to be deep. Simply think about the small pleasures in life that make you happy. It could be your favorite ice cream flavor, a crisp summer morning, going to the gym, or cuddling with your pet. Little things say a lot about a person!
How you would spend $1 million if you had it
If you tell people how you’d spend $1 million, you’ll give them an idea of what you value in life. For example, if you said, “I’d give 90 percent of it to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” then people know you are a generous person. If you said, “I’d use it to pay for my children’s college tuition,” people would know how much you love your family.
Founder and CEO, BrandLoom
When you want to present interesting facts about yourself, first know who is going to look at it. What an interviewer considers interesting about you will be very different from what a potential bridge partner will.
When you know who it is that you are presenting yourself to, you can do some serious self-reflection.
- What are your interests?
- What are your pet peeves?
- Do you have a special skill?
- Did you undergo some unique experience?
- Is there some special- but useless- ability you have?
Be honest and list your attributes. Do not make up things- just list what is true. And then, share them with your audience.
It is a must that you express yourself in an easy but interesting-to-read style. Don’t be afraid to be witty, but don’t go for the “too cool for school approach.” Don’t go for chest-thumping. Remember, nothing puts off your audience than bragging.
Founder, Manifest Me
This question is incredibly relatable in today’s culture. So many of us have been discouraged to brag or think of ourselves too highly that we don’t even know where to begin to come up with interesting facts about ourselves.
I found a trick to getting interesting facts out of people when I interviewed famous touring musicians. Here’s my hack: start with what’s weird.
Everybody is interesting. And more so, everyone is weird (or has had weird things happen in their lives). If you can’t name a suave or cool fact about yourself, get the ball rolling start by asking what’s weird about your life so far. Once you have the momentum of thinking your life as special, you’ll be able to zoom in on the facts that really make you stand out.
Here are a couple of questions to get you started:
- What’s a coincidence that happened to you that nobody outside your friends believes is true? Have you found money in a weird place, or ran into an old friend from middle school while traveling halfway across the world? Do you always see the clock at 11:11, 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, and 7:77? You definitely have something unbelievable going on in your life.
- What are two things you enjoy that nobody would ever think would go together? Anime and bodybuilding? Rapping and knitting? One musician I interviewed was both a certified yoga teacher and licensed firearms and explosives trainer–a very interesting conversation, to say the least!
- What’s a scene from your life that seems right out of a movie? Did your ex break up with you the same day that your cat died? Did your dog literally eat your homework? Life is stranger than fiction, so there has to be something that has happened to you that is Hollywood-worthy.
- What have other people said they notice about you? Are your thumbs double-jointed? Do people notice you have a big vocabulary? Are you always late, always early, or right on time? Think back to those comments about you and you’ll be off to a great start.
Once you get started on what’s weird, what is interesting is easy to come by!
Owner, Krista Walsh Copywriter
To come up with interesting facts about yourself—whether it’s on your about page or during an ice-breaker exercise—start by thinking of something that you’ve done, once. In other words, a story.
This way of approaching the “interesting facts” conundrum does a few key things:
1. Compared to facts about who you are (“I’m a textbook Libra”) or what you habitually do (“I like to sing at the top of my lungs in my car”), choosing something you’ve done at a specific moment in time leads you right into a unique story. And people remember stories!
2. You easily avoid clichés or boring facts. Thinking of “that time I…” is by design going to be specific to you, and therefore far more interesting. For example: “I once painted my room fuchsia to try to help myself get up earlier” is simple but already more interesting than something like, “I’m a huge dog lover.”
3. You reveal something deeper about who you are. When you share a mini-story instead of a literal “fact,” you get the opportunity to share something profound about yourself and immediately set yourself apart.
Regardless of whether it’s for an interview, resume, or just general conversation, people tend to experience brain freeze when they need to talk about themselves.
Here are some things you can do to overcome this:
- Make a list in advance,
- Ask a close friend,
- Ask family,
- List any clubs or associations you are a member of.
Generally, people don’t like talking about themselves, which is a mistake as it makes them seem boring when they aren’t. The reality is that none of us are boring; we just don’t see what others see.
The things that make us special don’t seem special to us.
As soon as we have a skill, it stops seeming like an achievement as it is something we now find easy. This is why it’s often better to ask a friend or family member for interesting facts about yourself. Even if you don’t need to tell people interesting facts about yourself now, make a list. Not only will it help your self-confidence, but it will also be ready anytime you do need to impress someone.
Everybody is interesting in their own way. One of the most common things I find in most people I meet is nobody really thinks they’re very interesting. Even with fascinating skills, experiences, or ideas, most people tend to downplay how interesting they really are.
To come up with interesting facts about yourself, I’d advise looking at what makes you unique and different from other people. It’s human nature to view things that are unique and different as interesting and worthy of our attention.
Ask yourself, “what makes me different from others?”
It could be a unique hobby, story, or personality trait. Maybe you see the world differently than most. If you equate uniqueness to interest, then everybody becomes interesting because everybody is unique and different! Looking at this way, it will be impossible not to find some interesting facts about yourself.
Director of Operations, MyCorporation.com
Be honest about the facts you’re sharing
Do not outright lie about doing any one thing, especially if others present can tell that you’re lying almost immediately.
When in doubt, talk about interesting things that had happened when you made the decision to travel. Did you visit a foreign country and go on a special tour? Did you meet a celebrity while visiting a major city? Were you able to go to Mount Rushmore and sit on top of George Washington’s head? Did you go on a kayaking adventure for a week or hike the Pacific Crest Trail?
Travel allows us to explore a new environment, and more often than not, we get to experience amazing things because of it, which leads to fantastic stories.
CMO at Nextiva
Answer the question: How did you end up right where you are at that exact moment answering this question?
- If you’re a new hire, how did you get the job?
- If you’re visiting a social group, who invited you, or how did you find out about it?
- If you’re on a date, tell a “not yet told” part of the story of how you found them and ended up talking to them.
This will always be relevant, and it will keep you from that embarrassing experience of trying to search your brain trying to come up with something.
Transformational Coach | Relationship and Dating Expert | Author of the upcoming book “Soul on Fire”
You’ll find out more about yourself and who you are by looking inside and getting more aware of how only you tick. The best tools for this are asking questions and journaling. So ask yourself the following few questions:
“What are my gifts and capacities?”
“What makes me special?”
“What is the wisdom that I, and only I, have?”
Allow yourself to write freely for a long time without trying to figure out the answer from your head. The more you let go, the more interesting information will start to appear. Then read your answers and see what new insights and facts you discovered. Whatever you might get aware of, have fun with it.