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How to Answer 'Tell Me About Yourself' in a Job Interview

"Tell me about yourself" - recommended answer

"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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How to Answer 'Tell Me About Yourself' in a Job Interview

How to Answer 'Tell Me About Yourself' in a Job Interview

https://www.thecut.com/2019/06/answering-tell-me-about-yourself.html

thecut.com

3

Key Ideas

“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.

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. 

"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.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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....
Craft an elevator pitch
  • Spend some time reviewing the job description in the recruitment ad for the position and research the company.
  • Prepare a short script that highlights the skills, strengths and expertise you have that make you especially qualified for this particular position. 
  • Explain the reasons you’re applying for this particular job. Focus on career-related motivations.
Your purpose to the question

Your purpose to the question "tell me about yourself" is to give just enough details of yourself to spark the interest of the interviewer.

Answering this question gives you a great opportunity to spotlight the skills and experience that make you the ideal candidate for the job.

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.
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 op...

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.
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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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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The Interviewer’s Perspective

When the interviewer asks you, “Tell me about yourself”, he is hoping this question will get you talking. It will give him a first impression of you, and set the tone for the inte...

How Not to Answer
  • Prepare a brief summary of the high points of each of your past positions, but do not turn it into a very long monologue that makes the interviewer glaze over with information overload.
  • You do not have to brag, but don't rely on the interviewer to see past your humble exterior and figure out how great you are. Find a way to present yourself to your full advantage.
  • This is not the time to talk about all your personal details. Focus on who you are as a professional.
  • Because this question can be interpreted in many ways, do not be overwhelmed by it. Delve right in with your prepared answers.
Your elevator pitch
You need a short summary of yourself as a job candidate. Keep it focused, ideally less than a minute, and no more than two minutes.
  • Address what your primary selling points are for this job. The number of years of experience or special skill.  Focus on the qualifications in the job description and how you meet and exceed it.
  • Explain why you are interested in this position. 

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Where you see yourself in 5 years
Where you see yourself in 5 years

A regular job-interviewing question is where you see yourself in 5 years.

The purpose of this question is to see if you would like to stay at the company for many years. Bringing on new emp...

Too Much Focus on the Future

The "Where do you see yourself in 5 years" question is about the interviewer wanting to see if you can draw a straight line from the future back to the present. A two-part answer works well.

  • " I want this particular job..." reinforces your desire for the position.
  • In part two, explain your future plans "... because it will help ..."
What Career Path the Company Offers

You should answer the question honestly, but your answer should also reflect the research you put into the company.

Find out what training programs are offered through the firm while holding down your full-time job. Mention your goal to grow your skills, and you'll impress your interviewer with your future-focused desires.

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Confirm with everyone

It's not uncommon for hiring managers to hand you over to someone else on the team to meet you at the last minute. Send a quick email to encourage them to plan: 

Hi Kamala, I’m really...

The interviewer’s LinkedIn and Twitter

Skim their history on LinkedIn, then move way down to the bottom. If they have endorsements and recommendations, it can give you a feel for their management style.

Twitter can help you guess at an interviewer's personality, interests, and values.

Your “about me” answer

Your interviewer will probably open with some form of "Tell me a little about yourself.Plan your answer using a few quick bullet points to keep things brief en then commit it loosely to memory.

  • Skip your personal history.
  • Give two or three sentences about your career path.
  • Mention how you decided to apply to this job.
  • Leave enough curiosity that the interviewer becomes excited to learn more about you.

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Conduct the Effective Job Interview
  • Prepare your questions based on the attributes of an ideal candidate,
  • Reduce stress level. Tell the candidates in advance the questions you plan to ask.
  • Involve enoug...
Answers To Common Interview Questions
  1. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Don’t tell your life story; answer clearly and concisely. Focus on professional accomplishments.
  2. Why should we hire you over the other appl...
The Smartest Way To Answer Interview Questions

The interviewer is likely looking for someone who can solve problems, has good interpersonal skills and the ability to get things done using good judgment and effectiveness. 

Not every question lets you show skills easily, so reframing a question to get to the answer you want to communicate might be the best way to do so.