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How To Answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question in an Interview

This simple question is not as simple as it sounds and so many candidates fail to understand the meaning behind this common interview question and hence their answers fall way short of the interviews expectations.

A few points to consider while answering this question.

  1. Do not give a full personal or professional history.

  2. Keep it short, to the point and compelling, to indicate why you are best fit for the job.

  3. Talk a little bit about your personality traits that have helped you accomplish something in your current and previous jobs (Present).

  4. Give a historical brief that helped you reach here (like education, interest etc.) that is relevant to the job role (Past).

  5. Finally, close your brief with a compelling reason why you would be best suited for this position (do not talk about hard working or willing to contribute etc. and common statement that have no substantial evidence) (Future)

Example:I am currently a sales account manager at Genesis, where I manage our top-performing client. Prior to that, I worked at Smiths, where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. I thrive on new challenges and specially outperforming my competitors by onboarding their clients. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I would love the opportunity to dig much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I am so excited about this role with Bard Health Center.”

Why Interviewers Ask this Question

The below reasons are some indications of what the interviewer wants to accomplish by asking this question.

  1. Its an easy ice-breaker question and eases them into the actual interview.

  2. It tends to be a simple question to help the interviewee settle in without having to deal with a complicated question at the very beginning.

  3. It helps the interviewer plan subsequent questions based on the answer.

  4. It helps recruiters and hiring managers get to know you and your presentation style.

Follow the below tips to nail a good answer to “Tell Me About Yourself”

Tailor Your Answer

When an interviewer asks this question, he/she really wants you to share more details about yourself as relevant to the position you are applying for and the company. They are giving you the opportunity to articulate whether or not you have the right qualifications and skills. In order to do that, you will want to spend some time combing through the job description, researching the company, and figuring out how you can tell your story in a way that makes it crystal clear why you are interested and what you bring to the table that aligns with the role and company.

Keep It Professional

Keep your answers relevant to the role and the company. This is not the time to talk about your family and hobbies.

Inject Some Passion Into Your Answer

If you feel comfortable telling your story from a passionate perspective, it helps engage the interviewer and sets you apart. Convey what you want to accomplish in your next role. You might incorporate a sentence like, “I’m really passionate about x and y and so I was really attracted to your company…”

Do Not Recite Your Resume

Keep your answers to the point but yet covering a good brief of "key words" related to the role and yourself. The interviewer must be engaged through the conversation and not bored. You must know your resume well but do not recite it word for word nor provide vague and insufficient answers.

Practice Your Answers

Do not wait to answer questions the very first time at an interview. You may want to rehearse (not necessarily memorize) the answers aloud with family / friends or evening by recording your questions and answers on a voice mail or answering machine and playing it back it to see how it sounds. It must sound genuine, creditable and not rehearsed.

Practice will surely make your answer stronger and help you become more confident giving it.

Know Your Audience

If you are speaking to a recruiter, you might keep your answers more general, whereas when you speak to your prospective boss, you might get a little bit more technical and specific. If you are talking to a C-level executive as part of your final round, it is probably smart to touch on why you are drawn to the overall mission of the company they run.

Keep It Positive

If your employment was terminated, this probably is not the best moment to mention it. There is a time and place for everything and when things get more comfortable as you progress through the interview questions. When asked why you are looking for a change, you can mention it. Golden rule: No bad mouthing your current or previous employer.

Remember This Is Often Your First Impression, and It Matters

Most hiring decisions are made in the very first 5-10 minutes. You have only once chance to make a first impression. This includes your greeting, overall confidence, handshake, eye contact, and your preparedness to answer this question.


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