How to Answer ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Interview Question

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‘Tell me about yourself’ is one of the first questions many employers ask during a job interview. Your answer will set the tone for the rest of the interview, so it is important to have an appropriate response ready. This article explains why employers ask this question and how answering it effectively can help you get hired.

Why employers say, ‘Tell me about yourself’

Employers say, ‘Tell me about yourself’ to get a sense of your personality, skills and experience and determine whether they fit the needs of the job and the workplace culture. Answering this question is an opportunity for you to share why you think you are a great fit for the position. 

To prepare yourself for this response, research the company to learn more about its culture. Ask yourself why you would like to work for the organization. What about this company appeals to you? Does its mission align with your goals? This information can help you find parallels between the company’s vision and your own.

Reread the job listing and identify aspects for which you are best qualified. How do your current or past job responsibilities apply to this role? Do you have special skills, training or certification that will help you succeed? In what ways do you exceed the basic job requirements? You will want to emphasize these.

Your response should reflect your relevant experience to the role. You can include a short statement about your interests and hobbies at the end, but the main part should demonstrate your capability for the job.

Related: How to Answer ‘Why Should We Hire You’ Interview Question

Surprising ways employers phrase, ‘Tell me about yourself’

Employers might phrase ‘Tell me about yourself’ in a variety of ways, most of which are open-ended. Be prepared to respond to similar inquiries such as:

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • Guide me through your resume.
  • Tell me about your background.
  • Share some details about yourself that are not on your resume.

Learn to identify alternative forms of this question and answer them the same way you would with, ‘Tell me about yourself.’

How to respond to, ‘Tell me about yourself’

Follow these steps to learn how to answer ‘Tell me about yourself’ in an interview:

1. Describe your present position, including tangible achievements. You can talk about specific duties or successes on your resume that you want to highlight. If one of your achievements was that you reduced customer complaints by 37%, explain the steps you took to do so.

2. List past experiences and skills you developed. Try to align the skills you talk about with those on the job description. For example, if the job description listed customer service skills, you can explain how you developed those skills through practical experience as a customer service representative. 

3. Describe your strengths. Talk about strengths that you can explain with specific examples. For example, if you are a restaurant manager, you can talk about how customer traffic increased by 5% the month after you started. 

4. Explain why you are excited about this opportunity. Find one or two things that relate to the role and the company.This will show the interviewer that you did the research and are invested in the job. 

5. Add a glimpse into your interests and personality. Talk about hobbies that demonstrate your value and skills. Include any current volunteer experience or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your discipline. For example, if you are applying for a job at a pet supply store, you can talk about your volunteer experience at an animal shelter. 

Related: How to Answer ‘Why Do You Want to Work Here’ Interview Question

Example answers to use in an interview

Here are example responses based on the steps:

Example 1:Describe your present position

‘I have been working as the managing editor at Publisher X for four years, where I oversee a team of 35 freelance writers, photographers and graphic designers. I handle the editorial calendar, assignments, workflow and quality control for the weekly publication. After leading a redesign of the magazine, circulation increased 20% over the last year.’

Example 2: List past experiences

‘Previously, I was the associate editor of a niche book publisher, where I had the opportunity to work closely with and learn from extremely talented editors. I discovered I had a love for creating engaging content. During this time, I earned the industry’s Young Professional Achievement Award for my work on project Z.’

Example 3: Describe your strengths

‘My greatest strengths are my attention to detail and my communication skills. I am extremely comfortable juggling multiple projects and pride myself on never missing a deadline. In performance reviews, my superiors have consistently praised the effort and energy I put toward my work and the professionalism with which I do it.’

Example 4: Explain why you are excited

‘Although I have enjoyed working for Publisher X, I am ready to take my career to the next level. I believe working for a company with a focus on the environment and doing something I am passionate about is that next step. I am excited about the opportunity to join a talented team and produce meaningful content.’

Example 5: Discuss interests and personality

‘Outside the office, you might find me reading a book at my favorite coffee shop or volunteering with the local literacy program. I am also an avid runner, and I am currently training for a half-marathon.’

When delivering your response, stay relaxed and conversational while maintaining professionalism. You want to sound natural and confident rather than rehearsed. Remember that the employer has read your resume, so instead of reciting bullet points, share examples of your skills and accomplishments. Try to spend no more 30 seconds addressing each step of your response. Your complete response should take about two minutes. To make sure you feel comfortable responding, practice it repeatedly.