What your interviewer is looking for

"Tell me about yourself" doesn’t mean “give me your complete history from birth until today.”  It doesn’t even mean “walk me through your work history.” It means “give me a brief overview of who you are as a professional.”

Interviewers who ask this question are generally looking to get a broad overview of how you see yourself, as a sort of introduction or an icebreaker before starting to dive into the specifics. 

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“Tell me about yourself”

... is one of the interview questions that most intimidates job seekers and one that most interviewers assume will be easy. It sounds straightforward — but as every job seeker knows, it’s not that simple.

"Tell me about yourself" -  recommended answer
  • Summarize where you are in your career, note anything distinctive about how you approach your work and end with a bit about what you’re looking for next.
  • Your answer only needs to be about 1 minute long.
  • Don’t drag yourself. This isn’t the time to explain you were fired from your last job or to confess your difficulties finding the right career path.
  • Keep your focus professional, not personal.

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What you should not say
  • Starting with something personal like family or hobbies, or launching into your life story.
  • Sharing the problems with your current job.
  • Summarizing your resume, point-by-point. Assume that your interviewers read your resume before inviting you in for the interview.

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  • Don’t share too much or too little information.
  • Avoid potentially contentious subjects.
  • Don’t talk about a hobby that might seem to be more important to you than your career.
  • Avoid sharing personal information about your family.

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. 

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