Tell Me About Yourself: How To Tell Your Story In An Interview
Interviewing soon? Here’s some tips on how to answer the common “tell me about yourself” interview question.
Posted on March 25, 2022
Tell me about yourself!
This seemingly easy open-ended interview question is among the most dreaded by jobseekers. Its ambiguous nature has the power to fluster the most confident interviewees and might leave you forgetting everything other than your name.
If this question makes you sweat, sit tight. We have some tips that can help you in your next interview.
Be Confident Not Arrogant
At the same time, by not being confident enough, you might seem unsure how well-suited you are for the role which is also not a good sign.
As with most things, its important to strike an appropriate balance that allows you to convey how capable and skilled you are without projecting how desperate or needy you might be for this new job.
For example, you could say something like, Im confident in how well I can perform the tasks required for this role because
Providing reasons as to why you feel confident about a skill or role can help prove how well-suited you are for the job.
Can You Tell Me About Yourself
The first rule of thumb for answering the Tell me about yourself question is to discuss what interests the interviewer. That means focusing on the experience and skills you have that will add value to the position.
Relevancy is key to properly answering this interview question. Carefully consider the most important job requirements when you prepare your answer. Keep it concise and targeted.
Providing evidence of your skills by detailing your accomplishments will set you apart from the other candidates. A clear and concise summary of what you can do for the company is what the interviewer wants to hear.
Giving proof of your suitability for the position will quickly convince the interviewer that you are a serious contender for the job.
If you are moving into a different industry you should highlight the transferable skills you can bring to the job in your interview answer.
Study the job and decide which of your competencies are relevant. Keep your answer focused on those qualities that are pertinent to the job.
When you are an entry level job candidate it is important to focus on your qualifications and any work experience you have. Your answer should include what you hope to achieve with your first job.
Remember that you don’t have to provide a long description of your qualifications, your time at college or your internships. Interviewers will pick up on those aspects they want to learn more about and will ask you questions to get further information.
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Evaluate Your Previous Experiences Find Alignment And Focus On Value You Can Add
Once you’ve researched the job and company, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what’s involved, how the team works remotely, and what the hiring manager is looking for.
Having a clear understanding of the company’s mission, culture, leadership goals, and roadmap allows you to align your answer to “tell me about yourself” with your own career trajectory. To a hiring manager, this is a win-win relationship because it’ll demonstrate that you’re already sharing the same goals as the company and can grow with the team.
Consider the role requirements and the company’s goals and trajectory. Now compare it to your previous experience and write down some ideas on how this particular role and this company align with your interests, career goals, and skillset. This might seem a little repetitive, but it’s important to remember that these two need to align in every job interview answer you give. When you answer “tell me about yourself,” the interviewer is actively looking for the alignment between your experience and skillset and what the company and role need specifically. Simply listing off your past experiences without any thought for this makes their job harder.
How To Answer The Tell Me About Yourself Interview Question
One option for your response is to share some of your personal interests which don’t relate directly to your career:
- Examples might include a hobby that you are passionate about like quilting, astronomy, chess, choral singing, golf, skiing, tennis, or antiquing.
- Interests like long-distance running or yoga that help to represent your healthy, energetic side are worth mentioning.
- Pursuits, like being an avid reader or solving crossword puzzles or brain teasers, will help to showcase your intellectual leaning.
- Interests like golf, tennis, and gourmet food might have some value if you would be entertaining clients in your new job.
- Volunteer work will demonstrate the seriousness of your character and commitment to the welfare of your community.
- Interactive roles like PTA volunteer, museum tour guide, fundraiser, or chair of a social club will help show your comfort with engaging others.
Remember, as with “tell me something about yourself that’s not on your resume,” one of the goals of this question is to get to know you a little bit beyond your career and on-the-job attitude and experience.
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What Should You Say
A good way to start is by telling them about an accomplishment that relates to the position youre applying for this demonstrates your ability to meet the needs of the business. It shows how your past experience makes you a good fit for the role. Avoid going into too many personal details all they need to know is whether or not you have any relevant experience. And make sure to practice saying your response aloud before going into an interview it might feel weird at first, but speaking from memory will ensure that everything comes across clearly.
If the interviewer is interested in learning more about you as a person, she might ask follow-up questions like What are some of your hobbies? or Where do you see yourself in five years?. You cant always anticipate what kind of information an employer will be looking for however, its best not to go too far off-topic with answers like I enjoy hanging out with my dog . Instead, try sticking to professional examples that illustrate how well-suited you are for the position. This way, even if there isnt time left over at the end of the interview, theyll still feel they got to know you.
Talk About Your Past Present And Future
Divide your time talking about what youre doing now, how you got to where you are, and your hopes for the future. You can start by mentioning your education and early roles and working your way up to the present, or you can start from the present and work backward. Either way, its good to end with your goals for the future and how you see the role fitting into that.
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Research The Company And Leadership:
Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the company if you haven’t. Weaving this knowledge into your answer to “tell me about yourself” is a great way to demonstrate that you’re committed to this role. Start with the company website, about us page, mission, and blog. It’s also a great idea to listen to any public interviews with the leadership team, particularly if they’re going to be your direct reports.
A good place to start is with our remote company database. If the company has a public employee handbook, you’ve struck gold. Not only will this knowledge help you shape your reply, but it’ll help you prepare some insightful questions of your own.
Similarly to researching the job description, look for indicators that can help you strengthen your answer.
What Makes My Career Story Unique How Do I Connect Personally To My Work
“I had a really incredible uncle in California who was both an accountant and a surfer. I always looked up to him, and one summer in high school he let me work as his assistant. We worked hard all day and surfed every night! This experience helped me form a connection between work and play that has allowed me to find real joy in my field. I’ve loved accounting ever since!”
When you craft your response to Tell me about yourself, start by answering the above questions. By identifying the key points of your professional timeline, you will discover that you too have a compelling career story to share.
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Why Do Employers Ask You To Describe Yourself
As the opening question to the interview, this query gives interviewers the ability to ease into the conversation by starting with a simple and open-ended inquiry, setting the tone for the rest of the interview.
Its also known to stump many job seekers and ultimately shows which interviewees are good under pressure. A common mistake among candidates is that upon hearing the question, they launch into talking about their life story, says Sawinery founder Robert Johnson. This is a red flag for the panel and can hurt your chances for the position.
The goal of the question is for employers to see if you can pitch yourself, meaning that you should provide an elevator pitch of who you are, what you can do, and how you can be an asset to the company in the job youre applying for.
How To Answer Tell Me About Yourself In 3 Simple Steps
Before you begin crafting your answer to the above question, make sure to research the company ahead of time so you can tie your answers to the position. For example, if the company aims to make artificial intelligence accessible to everyone, you could frame your response to highlight your experience in that industry.
That being said, the three elements of a successful answer to this interview question include your present role, past jobs, and where you see yourself in the future.
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What The Interviewer Wants To Know
Interviewers ask these kinds of questions in order to determine if you’re a good fit for the job.
Theyre looking not only for indications that youre qualified to do the work, but that youll gel with the team and the company culture.
For example, a startup that lets employees bring dogs to work and has beers on tap in the breakroom will be inclined to hire the person who works at a no-kill shelter and/or brews their own beer.
The interviewer will also note how comfortable you appear answering open-ended questions. This will speak to your ability to think quickly on your feet, as well as to prepare for important conversations at work.
Common Interview Mistake #2
Getting off track. Like any interview question, your response to Tell me about yourself needs to be brief, well-put, and powerful. Babbling and going off on irrelevant tangents, therefore, can be immediate killers. Focus your energy on keeping your speech concise and on-topic, or mental uhs and hesitations will ensue. And random chatter is the last thing you want in your interview.
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Show What Makes You Special
Have you ever walked on the beach and passed by hundreds of seashells in between your footprints? Occasionally, you might notice some that stand out. As a job candidate, You have to be that shell on the beach. You have to stand out. You have to be the one that the hiring manager wants to keep and bring onto his or her team full time.
The Tell me about yourself question is your opportunity to convey why your specific talents stand out from the rest and how your distinctive capabilities match up with the duties described for the position. Present yourself as interesting by coming up with accurate, reflective, compact wording that best describes no one else but you. Be confident and natural in sharing exactly who you are!
Why Do Interviewers Asktell Me About Yourself
Tell me about yourself is a question that many employers ask during the beginning stages of a job interview process because its an icebreaker it gets you talking about something, anything.
It also gives the interviewer a glimpse of how well-rounded and personable you are as a candidate before diving into your work history and qualifications for the relevant job. They want to get a better sense of who you are beyond what they can find on your resume or cover letter.
Its also commonly asked because the hiring manager wants to know how well youll fit in with the company culture.
This is your chance to show how much of a culture match you are with the role, department, and/or group thats interviewing you.
While each interviewer may have their own reason for asking the question, just being able to answer it is a plus.
But how do you go beyond just answering it? How do you come up with a strong answer that leaves a great impression?
If you want to make a great first impression, you need to show how you can fit into the companys culture, how your current skills align with what theyre looking for in an employee and how well-rounded of a person you are.
Lets look at some examples.
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Applicants With Zero Job Experience
But what if you have zero job experience, have nothing to flaunt, and are just starting out your career? In this case, try storytelling.
Let the interviewer know you as a person and then build a story from that. What are the positive qualities that people say you have? Do you have stories to tell that support your claim?
This effectively answers the question Tell me something about yourself by exploring a different area of your life . Heres an example:
If you ask people who know me best, theyd say that Im sort of a people person. Put me in a room full of strangers and 30 minutes later, Id be able to recall each of their names with little to no difficulty. In short, Im genuinely interested in people. This is why Im sitting here with you. For the past two years, Ive been searching for suitable careers that I could get into as soon as I graduate. There were a handful of choices but the BPO, particularly the call center industry, is one of the few that piqued my interest. Heres why: I believe that if I combine what I learned from my degree in Mass Communication and incorporate them with my personality, I can truly thrive in this industry.
Here, the applicant painted a hypothetical scenario portraying how hes genuinely interested in people. Doing this makes his answer sound credible and convincing. It not only tells. It shows, it paints a picture, it tells a story.
Tell Them How You Got To Where You Are Today
The first step is to discuss your background and professional experience as it relates to the position.
This includes how you got to where you are today and how your career path has led you to this point.
But be careful not to dive too deep into your entire life story. Listing some personal interests and stories is fine but try to be concise in your answer.
What first made you interested in your professional field? How did you get started in your industry? How have you worked your way up from a recent position to your current position?
You can also mention any accomplishments or awards youve earned along the way or in your last job.
Its important to start your answer by talking about your previous experience because it shows how youve developed your skills and how they can help the company.
You might say something like:
Ive always been interested in how technology can help people communicate better, so I started working for a small company while still in school and eventually worked my way up to this role.
Its fascinating how technology has evolved over time, especially how it allows us to reach more customers on a global scale.
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Why Do Interviewers Ask It
The question throws some candidates, but interviewers dont ask to knock you off balance. It is an icebreaker, but from a more professional view, it offers you the chance to lead with your strengths and direct the conversation in a way most conducive to your preferences.
In short, the question sets the direction for the interview on the interviewees terms. But there is still a pop-quiz element to it. Recruiters want interviewees to show them that they can think on their feet. Creativity, abstract thinking and eagerness to take on problems are much-prized soft skills that a resume or cover letter cant display reliably, and that no job can teach quickly or easily.
This question can cause a lot of anxiety, because its so open-ended and people dont know where to start, said certified career coach Anne Genduso. Some candidates try winging it, but its important to prepare your response, because it can lay the groundwork for the rest of the interview.
Example Answer For Experienced Candidates:
I graduated with a Business degree in 2010, and was offered an account management position from a telecommunications company I had interned with. I loved working with customers and managing and growing my accounts, but the industry we were in just wasnt very appealing to me. After that, I stayed a full year and learned a ton about how to build and manage accounts successfully and I ended up becoming a top performer in my group before leaving. I left at the 1-year-mark to pursue a very similar position within an industry Im much more excited about- healthcare. Ive been at this healthcare startup space for 2 years with this company and I feel ready to take my career to the next level so thats why Im currently looking for a new opportunity.
That first example showed you how to answer tell me about yourself for experienced job seekers .
Now lets look at an example for entry-level job seekers and job seekers with no experience.
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