The ultimate guide to nailing the ‘tell me about yourself’ interview question - Deepstash
The ultimate guide to nailing the ‘tell me about yourself’ interview question

The ultimate guide to nailing the ‘tell me about yourself’ interview question

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The ultimate guide to nailing the ‘tell me about yourself’ interview question

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The universal "tell me about yourself" question

Nearly 60% of job recruiters report that "tell me about yourself" is their first go-to question for a candidate.

Although this open-ended question can feel overwhelming, it could be the key to ensuring your interviewers remember you as the standout candidate.

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Managers ask questions like "tell me about yourself" because they are looking to see whether your professional skills align with the role you're interviewing for.  

Hiring managers are looking for more information you can express in one minute. So, if your answer is too short, the recruiter might think you simply don't care or don't have much to say.

It's not just what you've done in your career but why you made those decisions. Share your experiences, roles and achievements.

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If you answer this first interview question hesitantly, it'll be harder to show that you're a strong leader.

  • Leadership starts with your physical presence. Be vocal and animated. Act enthusiastically and eager to be there. 
  • Start your interview with the intention of motivating and inspiring your potential employers. Show that you've done your research on the company.
  • Adopt the "Leader Script." Open your answer with a line such as, "I've heard so much about you from my previous interviews, so it's great to meet you in person."

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Embrace it

Think of how your answer to "tell me about yourself" can be the start of a deeper conversation, leading to a stronger relationship with your interviewer. 

Keep three themes in mind when crafting your response:

  1. Engage your audience
  2. Establish credibility
  3. Tell your interviewers why they should care

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Employers are looking for well-rounded candidates.

Don't discount the last thing you read or watched, as this can be a way to demonstrate your interests beyond the workplace and show that you have opinions you're not afraid to express.

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Don't narrate your life story

You'll leave hiring managers cringing if you admit how you've been unable to get a job or that you're unsure why this position is a good fit for you. 

Instead, "tell me about yourself" is an opportunity to share what you're like beyond your one-page résumé. 

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Another way to start a job interview is with "Tell me your story." Most candidates seem caught off guard by this question and fall back on reciting their résumés or fall prey to telling the interviewers everything they've done since high school.

The question is meant to be an opportunity for a potential hire to offer a deep dive into what drives and encourages them as a person.

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Don't discount your athletic experience

Your athletic experience could be a factor in showing hiring managers that you're suitable for the job.

Many skills employers are looking for alignment with the characteristics developed on the athletic field. You just need to convince an interviewer that this is the case.

Former athletes know how to work through tough times, handle a busy schedule, and always keep a goal in mind. They understand that if one team member is struggling, success is unlikely. 

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Avoid buzzwords

Employers interview many candidates, and if your answers sound the same as theirs, you won't stick out. 

  • Using generic buzzwords will increase the chance you'll sound like the rest. To avoid this, practice describing your skills and experience with anecdotes that demonstrate the value you will bring to a company.
  • Avoid generic descriptions such as "I'm a perfectionist," "I get along with everyone", and "this is a dream job for me." Instead, focus on individual experience and growth.

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Plan ahead and write it down

Without a script to the question "Tell me about yourself", you could be caught flailing in an interview. It's better to be prepared. Good scripts don't come in the moment.  You have to think about how you will tell your story that inspires the interviewer and company.

Every job seeker needs a message. What's the big idea you want your interviewer to hear? And how will that show them that you're the right candidate?

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If you struggle to write out possible responses, build your story chronologically with a past, present and future. 

Go into the interview having already rehearsed what you plan to say. You should sound confident without coming across as a know-it-all. Practice in front of a mirror or with trusted friends. Stay calm, take a deep breath, and move ahead with your prepared script.

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During the interview, follow the lead of your interviewer. Do they want to make small talk? Go with it. Are they probing for how much you know about the company? Go for it. 

During the "tell me about yourself", emphasize the skills and strengths you will bring to the job.

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