Answering the ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Interview Question

So you’ve landed the interview. That’s great! Pat yourself on the back, but don’t get too relaxed just yet. Now that you’ve been invited in, you need to prepare interview responses to actually land the job.

You can anticipate certain inquiries: “What are your strengths?” and “Why should we hire you?” Don’t forget about the dreaded opener: “Tell me about yourself.”

The ladder may serve as the greatest opportunity to sell yourself to your interviewer. The request to talk about yourself is vague, allowing you to discuss any characteristics or personal experiences you feel best represent your ability to excel in the job.

Create your response before the interview to convey crisp, thought-out composure. You should dedicate an ample amount of time to preparation in order to nail your job interview. Having answers ready in advance will save you from stumbling or saying something that doesn’t do you justice. You want it to be the best it can be.

So here are some things you should keep in mind when formulating your reply to “tell me about yourself.”


Talk About What You’re Doing Now

Discuss your current situation. Tell your interviewer what job role(s) you’re currently filling and a little bit about them. What do you do on a daily basis? What have you learned where you are? What do you really like about your current job? Try to steer away from the negatives when discussing your current situation. Definitely don’t tell your interviewer that you hate your boss, for example.


Talk About Relevant Things You’ve Done
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Transition the discussion from your current job to the positions and experiences of the past. What led you to where you are now?

Stick to those that are at least somewhat relevant to the position at hand or to your professionalism in general. Aim to inform the interviewer of your strengths by telling real-life scenarios you’ve experienced. Did you overcome an obstacle that not many others face? Did a particular experience shape who you are today? What sculpted your interest in this particular job? What demonstrates your ability to excel in a role? Don’t be afraid to mention items on your résumé; if an item speaks to your goals or values, mention it.

  • But don’t give a summary of your résumé. No, this is not a time in which you should summarize your résumé. The interviewer already has a copy of that. Even if she has not yet reviewed it, she has the ability to look it over whenever she chooses. To offer a simple summation of your résumé, or even worse, to take the interviewer through it bullet by bullet, would be a waste of everyone’s time. Use this opportunity to talk about yourself in a deeper, new light.
  • Don’t deliver a detailed autobiography, either. There are certain facts that are relevant to a job interview. There are many facts, however, that have no place in such an exchange. Distinguish between the two, and then shave your items down to a few winners. Impressive or unique jobs, internships or volunteer positions are definitely worth mentioning. Rule out the miniscule and irrelevant (pets, vacations, boyfriends, etc.), because the interviewer only has so much time. You don’t want to be remembered as the one who rambled her job interview away.


Talk About Where You Hope to Go
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Now that you’ve delivered information regarding your present and past, move to the future. How do your current and former positions play into making your career goals come true? What are those goals? Discuss what you hope to achieve and what you hope to offer as an employee of the company.


Sprinkle in Personality

Now that you have your accomplishments and goals mapped out to the timeline, add some zest. Make your personal pitch just that — personal. Make it unique. Incorporate some of your feelings, your own voice. As you practice reciting your response — before your interview — add emphasis in places. Add light humor. Add you. Don’t be a robot.


Consider This Example

Following the described format, you may say something like this when asked to talk about yourself in your next job interview:

 I am a recent college graduate working for the local newspaper, writing feature stories and completing assignments within the office. My most recent piece about the city’s 5k charity race was used as a cover story in our last issue, actually. Before I started at the newspaper, I studied in at Rutgers in New Jersey, where I was born and raised. I wrote for my school paper there. I also started a health and fitness blog last year, which I still maintain in my free time. Since I’ve always been into athletics and competed in varsity sports throughout high school and college, writing about health and fitness comes pretty naturally. In addition to health, writing is really my passion. If I am hired here, I will strive to produce my best work and learn something new every day. I hope to introduce a new perspective to the publication.

Now that you have that spiel down, go forth and be confident, smart girl.


Join the conversation and leave your own interview advice and stories in the comment section below.

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Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a blog dedicated to helping readers navigate the job search and work world to find happiness and success. She specializes in career advice but is also a health nut and DIY junkie with a passion for living life to the fullest. You can follow Sarah @SarahLandrum

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