One of the most common job interview questions, “Tell me something interesting about yourself,” can be tough to answer. If you find it hard to come up with something interesting on the spot, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.
According to experts, here are helpful tips on answering this question effectively and making a great impression on your interviewer.
Amy Feind Reeves
Founder and CEO, JobCoachAmy
Let your enthusiasm show through; be engaging
Everyone wants to work with an interesting colleague—that doesn’t mean you need to keep bees, play tournament-level chess or create Moroccan hand carvings using 18th- century techniques in order to be deemed interesting.
If the honest answer to this question for you is that you love to watch college basketball and look forward to March Madness every year more than anything else, then that is your answer!
The trick is to let your enthusiasm show through. Most offices are not full of people with super cool hobbies, and the one for which you were interviewing likely is not either.
What most offices want to be filled with, however, are people who can be genuinely enthusiastic and engaging. Because the more interested you are, the more interesting you will be. It also means you are more likely to become enthusiastic and engaged at work, with work, and about work.
Use the question in a way that works for you
As a hiring manager, I never minded if someone interpreted this question in any of these ways:
What makes you quirky? A sample answer in this category may be:
- “I love to read fiction, but I always read the last page first,” or,
- “I love airplanes and always look up where and how a plane was made before I get on it.”
What is a fun fact about you? A sample answer may be:
- “I am 6,523 in line to run the Hapsburg dynasty if it ever comes back,” or
- “I have memorized the lyrics to every song in the Beatles catalog.”
What do you like to do in your free time? A sample answer here is:
- “I make a lot of recipes from the Great British Baking show for my roommates,” or,
- “I lift weights and can bench press 250 pounds.“
Try to avoid starting your answer with something like:
“Other people may not find this interesting, but you don’t have to apologize about being yourself to anyone, anywhere, ever.“
Be authentic; you really can’t go wrong in your answer if you answer truthfully
You really can’t go wrong in your answer if you answer truthfully. I want to see your face light up, your body visibly relax, and get a glimpse of what you are like as a person, not as an understandably nervous candidate.
Don’t use an answer that someone told you would be good or that you got from the internet; I will know. Don’t practice your answer until all life drains away.
Owner, Mair Hill Consulting
Figure out your personal themes
Some people call it your themes, perhaps part of your brand, but I like the way Laura Belgray (Talking Shrimp) says it best—she calls it your Coat of Arms. Those things that make you, you. Those things that, when shared, make you human.
These are 5-7 subjects that you write about, talk about, and sprinkle in conversations.
- They keep you on brand.
- They keep you on track.
- They make it easier to reach for something to say.
- They make it easier to keep track of a small bank of stories that can be easily retrieved when you’re asked to “tell me something interesting about yourself.”
It’s worth taking the time to figure out your personal themes. Start noticing what lights you up, what you look forward to, perhaps, what you’re good at or what you like to talk about.
Have a brain dump; write down everything that pops into your head
To start, have a brain dump and just write down everything that pops into your head. I prefer pen and paper (your brain does too) but if you’re better with an electronic list, keep it there. Make that your working list. There is no right or wrong.
Over the next week or two, add to your list. No judgment. No it. Just write it down. At the end of your two weeks, review your list and choose the top 5-7 subjects. That’s your Coat of Arms.
Don’t worry, it’s not set in stone—you can pick new themes at any time. The more you use Your Coat of Arms, the more you’ll refine it, and the easier it will be to use it.
Once you know what’s in Your Coat of Arms, figure out the interesting stories that capture each one of your chosen themes. Think through those stories from start to finish to make sure there’s not a sad ending or a controversial topic.
The idea with your stories is to be engaging and even entertaining instead of inciteful.
- Keep your stories on point and leave out irrelevant details.
- Avoid going down rabbit holes that just tend to confuse your listener. Don’t make your listener have to work hard to follow along.
- These are meant to be easy conversation starters that you can keep in your back pocket.
Once you’ve done the work and created your bank of stories, you’ll always be at the ready to “tell me something interesting about yourself.”
My Coat of Arms includes baking, my boys, Beaver Island, road trips, common courtesy, mutual respect, and connecting people. In each of those subjects, I could recount several storied examples.
For instance, earlier this year, I embarked on a 2431-mile road trip with my 87-year-old Mom (Clearly, there’s more to that story).
Certified Professional Co-Active Coach and Chief Communications Officer | Author, “Free and Clear: Get Unstuck and Live the Life You Want“
Keep it personal but professional
Remember that this is a job interview, not a date or a dinner party situation where you might give an extremely personal answer that veers into TMI (too much information) territory.
Your response should walk the line between showcasing your personality/interests and demonstrating how you are a great fit for the job.
Be authentic; consider what generally “interesting” experiences you have had
Consider what generally interesting experiences you have had—things few people have done, something out of the ordinary or admirable that you have accomplished – and how that showcases some of your best qualities.
An example that comes to mind is my husband, a senior executive in the technology field.
In his early forties, he started competing in triathlons and, after a few years, was doing full Ironman competitions around the U.S., which included a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run.
Training for and finishing that kind of competition takes a tremendous amount of grit and endurance—he used that as a personal talking point to illustrate his ability to “go the distance” at work too.
Do your homework; research their background and experiences
If you know who you are interviewing with, research their background and experiences to notice places of alignment with your interests.
Learn as much as possible about how their business describes their culture, and then choose something authentic from your life as a response.
For example, if they describe their culture as entrepreneurial and encourage people to fail forward and learn from mistakes, then you might want to share a story about yourself that showcases your ability to successfully take risks, like:
- Moving to another city without knowing anyone because it aligned with your personal interests and ways in which that paid off.
- How you started a side business in college that ended up funding your entire academic experience.
Keep it brief; a minute or two should suffice
Give the top-line summary of what’s interesting to pique their interest in learning more about you, but then know when to stop talking. A minute or two should suffice unless they ask follow-up questions to learn more.
Let’s say that you love making chocolate treats. You are interviewing for a graphic designer job, so that showcases your creative abilities in another format, and your response to the “tell me something interesting” question might be:
“I loved the movie “Willy Wonka” growing up and started experimenting making my own chocolates, and now create high-end treats in fun shapes for my dinner parties.”
And then you are done, rather than going into a 10-minute rabbit hole about the topic that causes the interviewer to lose interest.
Communication Coach and Founder, Have Better Conversations
Interviewers ask this question because they want to see that you can talk about yourself in clear, concise language. They’re also hoping to learn more about your background and what’s important to you.
Your answer does not necessarily need to be work-related, but it shouldn’t be extremely personal either. It should provide some insight into who you are as a person and what you might bring to the team.
When answering this question, it’s best to be boastful, specific, and concise. The examples below illustrate what I mean.
Be boastful; talk about yourself from a place of confidence and pride
You don’t want to be overly self-important, but you do want to boast a bit and talk about yourself from a place of confidence and pride.
“I’ve been very passionate about public speaking and performance since high school. I’ve competed in Shakespeare monologue contests, done improv and stand-up comedy, and enjoy getting in front of crowds of all sizes.”
With this answer, I’ve given the interviewer some fun, specific details about myself without going into minutiae or droning on for too long.
I’ve also stated a positive trait about me that could be relevant to the job function. The interviewer now has the opportunity to ask any number of follow-up questions.
Be specific; it helps build credibility
Specificity helps build credibility. Vivid details also are a lot more likely to stick out and be remembered later when your interviewer is compiling their notes.
- “I’ve coached many dozens of people to be more confident speakers,” versus,
- “I recently celebrated my 87th new client. One of my latest clients, Megan, just earned the promotion we’ve been working towards all quarter, and I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
The latter does more than just state what I do. It illustrates the impact of my work, which will help the interviewer get a more complete picture.
Be concise; give the interviewer a preview of our talents and abilities
A common trap people fall into during interviews is trying to give their whole life story. Remember, less is more. We can’t – and shouldn’t try – to give the entire context around a story or recite an entire laundry list of our accomplishments.
We simply want to give the interviewer a preview of our talents and abilities and then take a pause to allow for any follow-up questions.
“I’m proud to say that I’ve been in the top 5% of sellers at my company for the last three quarters running.”
Any personal or professional detail about you will sound interesting if you’re a little boastful, specific, and concise. The point isn’t so much to force some interesting factoid as it is to speak with confidence and poise when talking about yourself.
Anything sounds interesting when it’s delivered well.
Laurence J. Stybel, Ed.D.
Co-Founder and President, Stybel Peabody Associates, Inc.
Using a theme can provide a dramatic way to differentiate you from competitors
Good stories have four acts:
- The set-up
- The crisis
- The happy ending
- What it means. Don’t assume your audience “gets it.”
“I’m a Mitten Finder”
A COO candidate wanted to create a memorable image about how she does not let important details slip.
Set-up: “My boss was Executive Director of a nonprofit. We attended a national conference held during the winter. It featured a large conference hall full of exhibitors.”
The crisis: “My boss misplaced her left mitten. I said I would look for it. I went back to the crowded exhibition room, looked at the floors, and spoke with exhibitors about that missing mitten.”
Happy ending: “I found the missing mitten!”
What it means: This story illustrates my focus on details and not giving up when things seem overwhelming. “I am a mitten finder!”
Using the theme “I am a Mitten Finder” was a powerful, dramatic way to differentiate this candidate from competitors who were saying, “I’m detail focused.”
CEO and Founder, Westgate Executive Branding & Career Consulting Inc.
Know your skills; create an accurate picture of your skill set
Before setting out to market yourself, you must have a good knowledge of “the product”—you.
To do this, you need to create an accurate picture of your skill set. You have to gain a solid understanding of your own qualifications.
- Know your area of expertise (specialty, level, stature)
- Know your background (education, experience, accomplishments)
- Know your style (personality, individuality)
- Know your added value (unique offerings)
Position yourself a solution
Employers are not looking for a specific person with skills to hire. They are looking for a specific solution to their specific problem.
If automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have taught us anything, it is that when businesses can automate a task to avoid costs, they will do so.
Positioning yourself as a solution rather than an executive looking for a job will create clarity and confidence as you navigate the selection and interview process.
In my own experience recruiting executives, I noticed most candidates were unclear on the specific value they deliver. They spoke in general and broad terms about their responsibilities, whereas very few were able to articulate the specific benefits (with metrics).
Here is what you can say:
“I am the CEO of a non-profit organization with 15 years of experience. When my last company hired me, we were $200,000 in debt and had a high employee turnover.
I ordered a complete financial audit and discovered some major inefficiencies, and corrected them. I spearheaded a new fundraising strategy, and I initiated an employee loyalty program.
After 18 months, we were $1.5M profitable. Employee turnover has reduced by 35%, and we have exceeded our funding goals for the current year. Donors have increased by an average of 24% year over year.
The Board was very pleased with these results, and our improved employee engagement has reduced churn. We are now receiving excellent media coverage. Our clients are benefiting from the success.”
Keynote Speaker | Coach | Consultant | Innovator and CEO, PsychoGeometrics™
Organize your response in a natural and succinct manner without it sounding scripted or rehearsed
Start with, “What, specifically, would you like to know?”
- Would you like to hear something unique about my professional experience or results?
- Would you like me to start with something interesting regarding where I grew up, my friends or family?
Seeking to listen and understand, then customizing your response shows your ability to be confident, present, authentic, and provide the answer that is most important to the interviewer, instead of what you think is important to share about you.
Be real, be honest, take a moment to process a question, then answer genuinely, giving the interviewer the option to move on or ask more questions.
Pausing to think, clarifying the question, processing what you heard, or making sure you understand what the interviewer wants and how they want it is powerful. Just remember, as much as they want to know about you, your job is to know about them and the company they represent.
You are looking for the right fit, so it’s completely OK to interview the interviewer, respectfully, of course.
Finally, always remember you are the right person, but every opportunity is not always the right fit. Make sure you are interviewing as much as you are being interviewed.
When asked a personal question, think ‘been,’ ‘now,’ and ‘going.’ This will help you organize your response in a natural and succinct manner without it sounding scripted or rehearsed.
Been: “My parents were in the military, which means I moved 14 times in my first 18 years of life, went to six different high schools, and as a result learned to be extremely adaptable to change.”
Now: “I find myself thriving on change in my career. I am always looking for something new and challenging, or else I can become bored quickly.”
Going: “However, I am not looking to have 14 different jobs in the next 18 years! Instead, I am looking for one company, where I can continuously learn new things and grow in my career, experiencing all of the various functions within the company.”
Been: “Growing up, our family was a foster family for dogs. I loved it when we got a new dog but didn’t like it when we had to give it back for his forever home.“
My parents tried to convince me what a good thing we were doing, but I still had a hard time with it and always vowed I would provide “the forever home” for my own dog one day.”
Now: “I made good on that promise, and my wife and I just got our “forever” dog, Avery. She’s a mix of lab and corgi, and we got her from a foster family.
Going: “Funny how things come full circle. We are even considering being a foster family for dogs one day—maybe during our older years.”
Been: I have always wanted to travel and experience other countries and had just applied for my passport right before COVID-19 hit.
Now: “Nearly 2 ½ years later, I just got my passport and booked my first trip!”
Going: “I plan to spend my holiday in Europe this year.”
Avoid long, detailed stories that provide too much personal information
Avoid long, detailed stories that provide too much personal information. Keep it simple, short, relevant, and something relatable.
I recommend staying away from associating yourself with a specific cause that could be controversial unless it’s part of the job requirements or somehow related to the career you are pursuing, such as:
- a past or current movement,
- political party or decision, or
For example, it would be OK to say you enjoy running and that your favorite 5k is the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, but an interview is not the appropriate time to share an emotional or overly personal story as to why you chose the Race for the Cure—unless the interviewer asks you in a follow-up question.
It’s best to mention an interest that is relatable but not controversial.
For example, it would be OK to talk about belonging to a specific group of personal interest, such as a photography club. A photography club in and of itself is not controversial.
Besides, most people can relate to what it’s like to be a member of something, even if it’s something completely different than what they do. Plus, photographer skills might be a great asset for the job you’re applying for.
But you want to be careful to stay away from something that could be potentially divisive.
For example, if you said you loved to hunt, killing animals for sport or food, this could be a controversial topic.
It’s OK to be you, to have your personal interests, but if you bring them up during an interview, you could find yourself having to explain or defend what you do or why you do it or unknowingly offend the interviewer, who might be a vegetarian.
Alexandra N. Cohen
Strategy Consultant, ANC Consult
Highlight an experience that’s not on your resume but features a unique perspective
Whether you are interviewing for a new job or promotion in your company or interviewing prospective partners for a collaboration on a project, after talking about skills and experience, you get the question, “Tell me something interesting about yourself.”
This is an excellent way to go beyond the standard information on a resume. This is an opportunity to highlight an experience or accomplishment that may not be on your resume but that features a unique perspective or creative problem-solving experience.
- You are comfortable talking about the skills that make you an ideal candidate for this particular opportunity.
- Maybe you are interested in a particular project within the company’s portfolio, and you volunteered on a similar project with a nonprofit in your community, but it isn’t on your resume.
This is the moment to highlight that experience and make a link between your volunteer work and the new role that might not be evident from simply discussing a particular skill set.
Another example of answering “Tell me something interesting about yourself” may lead you to talk about:
- Traveling extensively during a period of your life,
- Demonstrating so-called soft skills like flexibility, ingenuity, and curiosity that aren’t listed on your resume but are valuable for the new role you seek.
We want to figure out if our vision and goals align with the person conducting the interview or with whom we may launch a business venture.
Sharing an interesting fact or (short) anecdote with an interviewer or prospective business partner opens the door to a more engaging conversation and the ability to determine whether the opportunity is really a good fit.
Content and Marketing Manager, SpeakingNerd
Answer the question in time and with a great sense of self-awareness
In every interview you appear for in your life, you are likely to be asked the question, “tell me something interesting about yourself.” In fact, this is where a lot of people will begin to fumble or start looking for answers. This happens when people are not self-aware.
It is rather hilarious that most of us struggle to talk about ourselves. Can you relate to the same? We can speak for minutes when it comes to speaking about others or some random topic. However, we find it hard talking about our own selves.
Talk about your strengths and the unique propositions you can bring to the table
When you are asked this question in an interview, you must perceive and approach it positively. The best way to go about this is to perceive this question as a great opportunity to talk about your strengths and the unique propositions you can bring to the table.
Highlight the best things about your personality while aligning your answer with the job description
If you look at it from the viewpoint of the recruiters, they want to delve deeper into your personality by finding answers to this question. So, it will be great to highlight the best things about your personality here while aligning your answer with the dynamics of the job description.
For instance, let’s say you are appearing for a job interview for the position of a project manager in an MNC, and you are asked this question in the course of the interview.
So, your answer can be something like:
“Well, I would like to tell you that I feel for project management roles or other leadership roles in the contemporary world, emotional intelligence is an essential skill to have for keeping everyone on the same page and creating better cohesion within the teams.
Moreover, EQ is also important to ensure effective decision-making at the team level. I realized that at an early stage, and I have consistently worked on my emotional intelligence to bring greater efficiency into my approach to managing teams and projects.“
Imagine the kind of positive impact such a balanced answer will have. Besides, it will also impress the recruiters with your approach to leadership roles.
In this way, in response to this particular question in the interview, you can:
- talk about what makes you stand out from others, or
- share an interesting perspective of yours with the interviewers that comes across as a strength of your personality.
Let’s consider another example to comprehend this in a more wholesome way.
Let’s say you are appearing for an interview for the position of content writer at a digital marketing firm. Now, when you are asked what the most interesting thing about you is, you can talk about your journey as a writer and how you decided that you should look to build a career in content writing.
Your answer can be something like:
“It makes me immensely happy to share with you the fact that I have always been a passionate writer right from my school days. I always dreamed of writing content for the world that can offer unique value to others and win their hearts.
I always wanted to be an author initially and write about fiction, but then later, I figured out that content writing on realistic topics is far more interesting than writing fiction.
However, for once in my life, I still want to write a fictional novel and see how it actually goes. I don’t only look at writing as a career option, but I think it is the joy of writing that means the most to me.”
So, this is how you can tackle this common yet imperative question that you are likely to come across in almost every interview.
Keep it aligned with the job profile
Whatever interesting things you want to tell about yourself to the recruiters, it is better to keep it aligned with the job profile or the skills linked to that job profile. The more you keep about your positive traits or perhaps some past achievements, the greater the impression you can form on the recruiters.
The key is to answer the question in time and with a great sense of self-awareness evident in the self-confidence with which you tackle this question.
Transformative Coach, Facilitator, and Founder, Repurpose Your Purpose
Tell a story; a strong one can make a big difference
The oft-dreaded interview prompt “Tell me something interesting about yourself” is only scary if you don’t prepare for it. With some preparation, it can actually be a great opportunity to talk about what you think is the highlight of your experience as it relates to the position you want.
Start by understanding the company and position. Then think of a skill or specific experience you have that would be a great fit for it. Think of a moment when you showed that skill or acquired that experience. Or think of how you specifically use it in your current position and tell that story.
Make a point of how it relates to what you are applying to. If you tell a good story, a sentence or two will be enough to drive the point home.
If the interviewer asks for something “interesting,” think of an interesting story! We all have one.
Ideally, it’s a story about work, but occasionally you can share something from outside of work, for example, from a volunteer or educational project.
Be authentic; really let yourself express how much you love it
Be authentic, really let yourself express how much you love it, or the impact it had on others, the results you achieved or contributed to in your current job, etc.
It’s crucial to think about what to share ahead of time. Often, it is difficult to think on the spot about the best examples. Keep your answer to 1-2 minutes, be yourself, and drive home the point of how relevant this is to the job you are interviewing for.
A strong answer can make a big difference and inspire the interviewer to ask more about the skill or experience you want to talk about the most.
Career Expert, Career Addict
Keep it concise and to the point
The best way to pitch yourself and let your interviewers know a bit more about you is to craft an elevator pitch about yourself and why you are suited for the job and the skills you have that would make you good at it.
Keep it concise and to the point; it’s important not to ramble on about yourself either.
For example, if you are applying for a management position at a company, tell them about your past/current job, the skills you use for it, and emphasize similar skills that would make you great at the management position.
“For the past five years, I’ve been working as an HR rep for company_____. I have some background in managing people and creating a great team environment.
Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that I’ve always been good with communication and creating a fair work environment for my co-workers.
For example, when I was working at _____, I led an HR project for teamwork skills in the workplace.”
Kevin Joey Chen
Content Director, Studyverse
Position yourself as a dynamic, interesting candidate
In an interview, always remember one thing: Your interviewer wants to see you do well.
Think about it this way. If an interviewer is going to spend 15, 30, or 45 minutes (and sometimes longer) with a candidate, they’re hoping it will be an interesting conversation.
So, see the question “Tell me something interesting about yourself” as an icebreaker.
Mainly, your interviewer is hoping to see that they’re talking with someone who will add positivity, multi-dimensionality, and even a bit of fun to the workplace.
Here’s how to create an answer that will get you great results in your next interview.
Start with an interesting topic
The first thing to do is find something interesting you can build your answer around.
Consider these things about yourself:
- Things you’re interested in.
- Things you’ve done in the past.
- Places you’ve traveled to.
- People you’ve met.
To check if this is a good starting point, imagine you were at a social function, and you mentioned your interesting thing in a conversation.
- Would you and your conversation partners spend the next few minutes excitedly talking about it?
- Would it be an afterthought and quickly forgotten?
Find the thing that’s memorable
That’s where a great answer begins. Create a concise, polished answer expanding upon your initial topic. Now that you have your starting topic, it’s time to fashion an answer that will land.
Here’s the formula for creating a great answer:
- State the interesting thing, activity, or event.
- Expand on it — tell the story. Explain why it happened or why it’s important to you.
- Wrap it up nicely. Tell what you learned from it, what it says about you, or how it’s helped you grow into a better person.
The reason you want to structure your answer this way is that it’s a bridge to the rest of the interview.
You want your interviewer to think of you as an interesting person or as someone who has enhanced abilities to perform the work required.
Put it all together and practice
Consider typing out your answer, so you have it prepared. Then, keep practicing your answer until it’s second nature.
Once you do that, you can confidently give it in an interview, setting the tone for a great conversation.
Here are a few examples demonstrating the principles we’ve discussed:
“I’m a huge wine enthusiast. I love learning about different varietals and how wine is made. I first got into wine because my friend took me on a trip to Napa Valley, and now I share my love for wine with everyone because it’s a great way to connect with friends and meet new people.”
Why it works: This is a great answer because it’s a springboard to possible conversation topics — wine varietals, the winemaking process, and Napa Valley.
Additionally, you show you’re a social person who your future coworkers are likely to get along with.
“I once won a memory competition. I got hooked on memory skills because my grandfather gave me a book on memory techniques, and I spent hours and hours practicing.
Before the competition, I prepared for five months — and it was worth it. It gave me a lot of really useful memory skills, but it also expanded my focus so I can concentrate for hours on end now.”
Why it works: A memory competition is something you don’t hear about every day.
Your explanation of your preparation shows you’re someone who works diligently toward your goals. And mentioning your ability to concentrate allows your potential employer to see you as a productive employee.
Richard J. Brandenstein
Attorney and FBR Law partner, Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C.
Be genuine; they need to know whether you’re going to fit in with the team
When an interviewer asks this question, most of the time, we genuinely want to know something interesting—or at least something that you think is interesting—is that we can get a better understanding of you as a person rather than just as a potential employee.
We need to know whether you’re going to fit in with the team.
Don’t make it embarrassing
Try to avoid telling us anything interesting about your physicality, like if you have an extra toe or can fit your fist in your mouth (someone has seriously demonstrated this to me in an interview before), because we don’t want to see you make a fool out of yourself and like I said, we want to learn about you.
An extra toe doesn’t help us figure out if we’re going to get along with the other people in the office.
“I’ve seen (random band) 10 times.”
“I’ve been on TV.”
“I’m related to (celebrity).”
“I create pottery in my spare time.”
CEO and founder, BPS Security
When interviewers are asking you this, they are looking for insight into you beyond the basics of your resume.
Avoid generic answers
Stating that you are driven or passionate or hardworking is not a great answer, because it is generic and could mean anything.
Instead, describe a situation where you displayed those characteristics and then list the number of years you were known for doing something like that as well as where you were known for doing it.
If you are the person who regularly stayed an hour late at work because things needed to get done, explain one specific situation and the reason you stayed late, then list the time period you became known for that in.
Give personal examples
While it’s not the best idea to dive into deep personal details, it is a good idea to discuss unique things that you’ve done or ways you’ve noticed that you’re different from everyone else.
If you’ve noticed that you tend to approach problems differently from others, now is the time to mention that and explain how you approach problems differently.
If you have a hobby that you believe helps you excel at work, this is the best time to mention that because it is something that sets you apart from the generic resumes.
- Speed-typing games, which improved your Words Per Minute
- Enjoy reading about psychology, which helps you as a customer service representative
Senior Editor, Tandem
Incorporate the position you are applying for
If you have an intriguing story that explains how you got into the line of work you are applying for, this would be an ideal opportunity to tell your story.
The story you tell will not only let the interviewer know how passionate you are about the possible position, but it will also help them understand you on a more personal level.
Tell something memorable
You want to ensure that the interviewer remembers you—for all the right reasons. As with many times in life, there is such a thing as too much information.
Make sure that what you say is professional. If you have an anecdote that you can tell that you believe will stay top-of-mind with the interviewer, now is a great time to tell it.
Make sure you only tell your story
You might have heard a funny story told by someone else, and if caught off guard during an interview, you may be tempted to share this story.
It is important to ensure that whatever story you tell, it should be your story. If you get hired, what you talked about during your interview could become a topic of conversation.
The best way to remember what you did or didn’t say is to only speak the truth.
However you choose to tell something interesting about yourself, as mentioned above, you must ensure that your response is professional. You don’t want to talk about something too graphic, sexual, or inappropriate.
Though you might not think that you are all that interesting, you will probably find you are more interesting than you once thought.
Jonathan Brockman, P.C.
Practicing Attorney and Founder, Brockman Injury Lawyer
Take the opportunity to squeeze in more information about yourself
You should try to see this question as an opportunity to squeeze in some more information about yourself that is going to help you look like a well-rounded person.
You want to share something that demonstrates something positive about yourself, and if it can tie into your career, even better.
- Did you come second in a chess tournament a few years ago?
- Do you know the first 100 digits of Pi?
- Do you play in a Dire Straits tribute band on the weekends?
Make it something fun and professional that is appropriate for work, and there are not many ways that you can go wrong.
Head of People, PhotoAiD
You want to choose something that will make you sound like a well-rounded individual
This is a great question and one that can really set you apart in an interview. There are a few things you can do to make sure your answer is interesting and engaging.
First, think about what hobbies or activities you enjoy outside of work. These can be anything from playing sports to visiting new places to cooking. You want to choose something that will make you sound like a well-rounded individual with a life outside of work.
Second, tie your answer back to the job or company you are interviewing for.
- If you enjoy traveling, you could talk about how it’s helped you develop cultural competence which would be useful in a global company, or
- If you love cooking, you can explain how that has made you a keen experimenter, always looking to test new creative solutions.
What matters is that you find some kind of connection that will help.
In any case, here’s an example:
“I am passionate about Jazz and have been playing in various Jazz bands for many years. This type of music is unique in that it forces you to express yourself individually while remaining in harmony with the broader collective.
In fact, I’ve always thought of it as a way to practice your team spirit. It teaches you to keep a balance between collective responsibility and individual creativity and expression.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I prepare for this question in advance?
Yes, it’s a good idea to prepare for this question so that you feel confident and prepared during the interview.
However, don’t memorize a scripted answer, as this may come across as inauthentic. Instead, use your preparation as a guide so you can answer naturally and confidently during the interview.
Here are some steps you can take to prepare:
Think about your experience, accomplishments, and interests: Take some time to make a list of hobbies, accomplishments, or unique experiences that you’d like to share with the interviewer.
Narrow down your options: Once you have a list of possible answers, try to narrow it down to the first 1 to 3 things that you think would be most relevant and interesting for the job you’re applying for.
Practice your answer: Practice your answer aloud, alone or with a friend or family member. This will help you become comfortable with your answer and feel more confident during the actual interview.
Stay flexible: While preparing for the question is essential, you should remain flexible and open to new ideas and approaches. Your answer should be authentic and unique, so don’t be afraid to adjust it depending on your conversation with the interviewer.
Are there any topics I should avoid when answering this question?
Yes, even if you want to show your personality and share something interesting, it’s essential to avoid specific topics that might be inappropriate or controversial. Here are some topics you should avoid when answering the question:
Politics and religion: Avoid discussing your political or religious beliefs, as they can be polarizing and offend the person you’re talking to.
Gossip and rumors: Telling rumors or gossip about colleagues or former employers can be unprofessional and leave a negative impression on you.
Personal problems or struggles: Avoid talking about or telling too soon about psychological problems or personal difficulties that might make the interviewer uncomfortable.
Anything too personal or obscene: Sharing anything too personal, intimate, or obscene, such as affairs in the bedroom, your sex life, or anything that might seem indecent, should be avoided as it may be inappropriate and make the interviewer uncomfortable.
Can I use humor in my answer?
Yes, you can use humor in your response, but it’s important to do so thoughtfully and appropriately. Spicing up your answer with humor will help you stick in the mind of the interviewer and come across as more engaging, but it can also backfire if the joke is inappropriate or doesn’t hit home.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when using humor in your response:
Use humor sparingly: You want to make a good impression but don’t want to come across as unprofessional or disrespectful. Using humor sparingly and tactfully can help you strike the right balance.
Keep it light: Stick to light-hearted, playful jokes that won’t offend or upset the person you’re talking to. Avoid jokes or humor that could be controversial or polarizing in any way.
Make sure it’s relevant: Your humor should fit the context of the interview or the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a job in marketing or creative fields, a clever, witty response may be more appropriate.
Test it beforehand: If you’re unsure if your joke is appropriate or suitable, test it on a friend or family member beforehand. Get their feedback and see if they find the joke funny or if it could be misconstrued.
How long should my answer be?
Your answer to the question “Tell me something interesting about yourself” should be concise, ideally no longer than 2-3 sentences.
It’s essential to keep your answer short, leaving room for the interviewer to ask follow-up questions and engage in further conversation. A long and rambling response can cause the interviewer to lose interest or not understand the point of your statement.
When formulating your response, think of it as an elevator pitch—a brief and focused introduction that highlights your strengths and interests.
Consider what aspects of your experience or personality you want to highlight, and formulate a concise response that effectively conveys your message.
Remember that your goal is to leave a positive impression on the interviewer and to stand out from other applicants. Keeping your answer short and focused will increase your chances of keeping the interviewer’s attention and making a memorable impression.
Is it okay if my answer overlaps with something in my resume or cover letter?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine if your answer to the question “Tell me something interesting about yourself” overlaps with something in your resume or cover letter. In fact, in certain situations, this can be beneficial. Here’s why:
Emphasize your qualifications: Mentioning an experience or accomplishment that is already in your resume or cover letter allows you to emphasize your qualifications and highlight skills relevant to the job.
By elaborating on this information, your interviewer can better understand your knowledge and experience.
Make a connection: Referencing something in your resume or cover letter can help your interviewer remember your application more easily. This can create a stronger connection between your written application and your in-person interview, making you a more memorable candidate.
However, make sure your answer doesn’t just reflect the content of your resume or cover letter. Take the opportunity to add more depth, context, or a personal touch that highlights your unique qualities and makes you stand out as a candidate.
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