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Your Guide to Answering "Tell Me About Yourself" in an Interview

Tailor Your Answer

Interviewers want to know how your answer about yourself is relevant to the position and company you’re applying for.

This is an opportunity to articulate why you’re interested and how your objective fulfills their goals. In order to do that, spend some time researching the company. If your answers resonate with them, it shows that you really understand the role.

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Your Guide to Answering "Tell Me About Yourself" in an Interview

Your Guide to Answering "Tell Me About Yourself" in an Interview

https://www.themuse.com/advice/tell-me-about-yourself-interview-question-answer-examples

themuse.com

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Key Ideas

Why Interviewers Ask It

This introductory question serves as an icebreaker to lend an easy flow to the conversation. It helps the recruiter to get to know you in terms of hard and soft skills.

It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate that you can communicate clearly and effectively.

How to build your response

  • Present: Talk a little bit about what your current role is, the scope of it, and possibly a recent achievement.
  • Past: Tell the interviewer how you got there and/or mention a past experience that’s relevant to the job and company you’re applying for.
  • Future: Continue with what you’re looking to do next and why you’re interested in this job.
You do not have to respond in this order. Tweak it to suit you. Make sure to tie it to the job and company.

Keep It Professional

This isn’t the time to talk about your family and hobbies unless you believe that it would be relevant.

The norm in some countries might be to share personal details at this point. In the U.S. you should avoid doing so. 

Share Your Passion

If your goal in an interview is to stand out among the applicant pool and be memorable, tell your story from a passionate perspective, even if that touches on the personal territory.

You might incorporate a sentence like, “I’m really passionate about x and y and so I was really attracted to your company…”

Be Concise

Don’t waste this time repeating every single detail of your career. 

Think of it as a teaser that should attract the interviewer’s interest.  Give them a chance to ask follow-up questions about whatever intrigues them most. 

Practice

Think through what you want to convey about yourself ahead of time.  See if the answer sounds solid and credible to you. Practice saying it out loud.

Be careful against reciting your spiel word-for-word. You don’t want to sound overly rehearsed. It is a conversation. Imagine yourself telling a story to a good friend.

Know Your Audience

Make sure you understand who you’re talking to. You might give a different answer to a recruiter than to a prospective boss. 

Keep It Positive

View this as your first impression. Wait for a good time to mention something like being fired or laid off from a previous job. Do not speak bad about your previous employer. It is a big turn-off. 

First Impressions Matters

As most hiring decisions are made in the first minute, you might only have one chance to make a good first impression. It includes your greeting, handshake, eye contact, and the first thing you say.

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The reason for the question

Interviewers ask questions like "tell me about yourself "  to determine if you're qualified to do the work and if you will fit in with the team.

How to Answer the Question

It might be a good idea to share something about yourself that is doesn't relate directly to your career. 

For example, interests like running might represent that you are healthy and energetic. Pursuits like being an avid reader might showcase your intellectual leaning. Volunteer work will demonstrate your commitment to the welfare of your community.

The “present-past-future” formula

This is a simple formula to construct your response.

  • Start with a short overview of where you are now (which could include your current job along with a reference to a personal hobby or passion).
  • Reference how you got to where you are (you could mention education, or an important experience, internship or volunteer experience).
  • Finish by describing a probable goal for the future.

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'So, Tell me about Yourself'

... or some version of that is one of the most fundamental and common questions asked in any first round of a Job Interview.

Hiring managers usually like to ask this question, because it ...

Short vs long answers

The conventional expert opinion is to provide a crisp, 30 second to 1-minute answer to the question "Tell me about yourself", but one minute isn’t enough time to deliver a meaningful response that benefits you as a candidate.

Experts prefer a short answer, as it has less chance of leading the candidate to drift or ramble.

Benefits of a long answer
  • A longer answer to "Tell me about yourself" allows you to provide a useful narrative beyond the résumé.
  • It lets you reveal key motivations that drove your career path.
  • You can shape the interview in your direction.
  • It's an opportunity to stand out from the other candidates.
The Job Interview
The Job Interview

Hunting for a job is a tricky process and may have many pitfalls. Many of us are not accustomed to having these kinds of conversations or handling the power dynamics of a job interview. There can b...

A Long Multi-Round Process

If you feel there is fog ahead of you due to opacity in the interview process and the multiple rounds, you can simply ask the next steps of the process and the timeline for a decision.

If you think the employer has an elongated set of rounds ahead, request to consolidate them if possible.

Stumped By A Question

Instead of bluffing your way through a question that you are completely stumped with, it is better to be upfront and handle it with honesty and grace. Tell them straight away that you do not know the answer to this question and what similar things you have done which have been effective.

Your life experiences are unique and not identical to what the interviewer is trying to ‘slot’ you into.

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