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The struggle is real.
After passing the first stage of the recruitment process, you’re now ready to tackle the first round of interviews.
You know that each and every one of them will start with the oh-so-dire “Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself?”
If you’re like most candidates, your head will simply go blank after hearing it.
So get ahead of them this time, and find out how to prepare yourself to answer this common interview question.
In this article:
- How to answer “Tell me about yourself” in an interview.
- Why recruiters like to ask the “Tell me about yourself” interview question at the beginning of every interview.
- “Tell me about yourself” sample answers to help you plan your response.
If only you could have a practice run of your next job interview...
With us, you can. Find out exactly how to answer the toughest interview questions. Practice your responses until you're sure they're perfect. Find your confidence, ace your interview, and land your dream job!Get ready for your interview
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- Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years: How to Answer
- STAR Method for Interview Questions
- Best Questions to Ask an Interviewer
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“Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question
This seemingly innocent question is in fact is one of the trickiest questions to answer during an interview.
Because open-ended questions give the opportunity and space to reply in as much detail as possible, which can be intimidating.
However, it’s a great chance for you to present yourself in the best possible light by giving the company what it wants to hear: an impactful personal statement that gets them excited about the prospect of working with you.
Many recruiters tend to ask this question at the beginning of the interview simply to cut the first turf and start the conversation.
But that’s not what happens in the head of the interviewee.
Moat candidates get really stressed when asked open-ended questions like this, as they are not able to predict what answer the recruiter wants to hear, and they start to panic and lose their confidence.
As a result, instead of giving the recruiter specifics and a good "pitch", they begin to tell long, unnecessary stories about their dog and their lactose intolerance.
So, what is the perfect answer, then?
“Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question—Sample Answers
The way you answer even the simple "Tell us something about yourself" question can be crucial to your hiring success. The only way that your answer can convince the hiring manager that you are the best candidate is if you make it appealing.
Here are some examples of “Tell me about yourself” best answers that might give you a better idea of what interviewers like to hear:
As you can see, Tina gives a brief run-down of her relevant experience, all while highlighting measurable achievements. She ends her answer on an offer to achieve the same impressive results for the new employer, giving the interviewer a clear reason to hire her.
Lynn also provides a summary of her relevant professional experience, supplementing it with an explanation of why she applied for this particular role. By showing the interviewer how this job fits into her broader career plan, Lynn makes it clear that this is an important opportunity for her: she’s in for the long run, and unlikely to quit after a few months.
Again, this answer puts the focus on the candidate’s motivation and their determination to succeed in this role. This means they’re likely to stay with the company for longer, which, given the cost of replacing employees and dealing with high turnover, is definitely something the interviewer is looking for.
How to Answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question
There are many rules to follow when being interviewed for a job.
Apart from looking sharp and being on time, you also have to be well-prepared and make the best first impression.
The best way to answer “Tell Me About Yourself” is by following this formula:
- Summarize your career history, by including the most important positions and jobs,
- Describe several of your most prominent career achievements,
- End your statement with a description of your career goals.
At the beginning, really think about what you want the recruiter to know about you.
Read your resume once again, and select the pieces of information that will make you stand out in the eyes of the employer.
Your statement should be on point, concise, and no longer than two minutes.
Make it fresh and interesting by giving vivid details, and using (appropriate!) humor.
These 5 tips will help you prepare the perfect answer:
1. Introduce Yourself
Think about who you are and how you want to justify your choice of career path. You can also mention what made you choose this particular industry. What interests you most about this job? Remember that the recruiter only wants to know the information that is relevant to the position you are applying for. Make it short and sweet.
2. Tell a Story About Yourself
In a few words, tell them why you are interested in this specific professional field and what influenced your choice of this particular industry. The recruiter will want to know if you can concentrate on key information and if you can prioritize information by describing the most important events and leaving out what’s less important.
3. Briefly Talk About Your Education
What academic experience do you have? Give a rundown of what courses, seminars, workshops, academic or research projects helped you to acquire expertise in the industry. Are you planning to continue your education?
Expert Hint: If you don’t have any work experience yet, mainly focus on your education—majors, degrees, academic awards, relevant coursework, projects, extracurricular activities, internships, or volunteer work and try to provide examples that will show how much education has prepared you for work in a given profession.
4. Mention Other Related Experiences
Choose one or two examples of other related experiences that have helped you develop your skills. Consider things like internships, research projects, previous jobs (even part-time or summer jobs) or leadership positions.
5. Finish Strong By Telling Them What They Will Gain From Having You in the Role
Which specific work experiences will help you best fit into the company structure? What values can you bring with you to the new organization? How did your professional history, acquired skills and education make you the perfect fit for the position?
It is important to really prepare, think about what you want to say, and learn it. However, avoid memorizing every word, as they can sound canned. The first impression is the most important one, so present yourself to the employer in the most casual yet professional way possible.
Expert Hint: To create a successful introduction, learn more about the concept of an elevator pitch, which will provide your interviewer with a solid idea of who you are as a person and what you have to offer in a short amount of time.
What Is a Good Way to Prepare for the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question
First, make a list of your strengths. Think professional and non-professional achievements that you are particularly proud of and which will prove your additional skills.
Then, match them with the employer's job description requirements, which can be found in the job posting.
For example, if the ad mentions leadership skills as desirable, and one of your achievements is succeeding in the role of a team leader, that’s definitely something to mention.
Can’t find this information in the ad?
You can always search the Internet for a specific job title and check the description online, or even refer to the employer's website, where you can find more interesting information that can help you prepare for this question and the job interview in general. There are plenty of benefits to researching your potential employer before the interview, so that’s not a step you can skip either way!
How Should Candidates With No Experience Answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question
Anyone who had just graduated from college, especially after studying full-time, doesn’t have specific work experience, because they simply didn't have the time for it.
How should candidates with no professional experience answer this question, then?
The best solution is to simply focus on the experience you do have—your education.
Before you go to the interview, read the job offer once again and think about which degree, course, or project you completed matches any of the skills described in the job advertisement. What academic activities might impress the potential employer?
Make sure to mention any scientific research you have done where theoretical knowledge has been applied in practice, as well as part-time jobs you’ve had during college, even if they weren’t directly related to the career you are now seeking. Talk about the soft skills you've acquired on the job.
Always remember that every experience you gain shapes your personality and is valuable.
You just have to present it from the right point of view.
How to answer the “Tell me about yourself” interview question:
- Prepare short answers where you summarize your experiences, but don’t memorize them! Make sure you only present relevant information that can be related to the job you are applying for.
- Make your answer short. When preparing for the interview, time yourself to see how long your answers are. The ideal time frame is about 2-3 minutes.
- Highlight your strengths and accomplishments, but avoid bragging.
Thanks for reading! Still not sure how to answer “Tell me about yourself”? Have some tips of your own to offer on best answers to this question? Let us know in the comments, we’re ready to chat!