“Tell Me About Yourself” – Here’s How to Answer This Interview Question Without Panicking

Tell me about yourself

How difficult can it be to answer the question, “tell me about yourself?” 

You should be able to answer this question without difficulty – after all, no one knows you better than you know yourself. But somehow, many job seekers fail this common interview question.

The key to answering this interview question is keeping your answer professional, honest,  and straight to the point. Here´s how to craft the right answer without sounding too generic.

What is the Point of the Interview Question: Tell Me About Yourself?

An interviewer asks you this open-ended question in the job interview because they want to know the person behind the resume and cover letter. They have read your qualifications from your resume but want to see how well you present yourself in a job interview.

This process also helps the interviewer learn about your personality, temperament, and general demeanor. At this stage of the interview, the hiring manager wants answers to questions like:

  • How do you handle the pressure?
  • Can you think on your feet?
  • What motivates you?
  • How articulate are you?
  • Are you a good fit?

Consider it an opportunity to make a great first impression and demonstrate that you are a great candidate for the job. So it is best to be well-prepared and practice your answer to tell me about yourself before the day of the interview.

Various Ways You May Be Asked the Tell Me About Yourself Question in an Interview

Your interviewer may ask you this question in many different ways, including: 

  • Walk me through your background
  • Can I know a bit about you?
  • Take me through your resume
  • Tell me about you
  • Tell me something about yourself that’s not in your resume

Whichever way the recruiter frames this question, they want you to introduce yourself professionally and how your skill, experience, or achievement aligns with the job you are applying for.

6 Tips for Answering Tell Me About Yourself Interview Question

How you answer “Tell me about yourself” can set the tone for the rest of the interview. The aim is to be succinct but ensure you cover key points that demonstrate why you are the best person for the job. 

1. Be Honest

The first step to answering this question is to be honest. We understand that you want to impress the hiring manager and avoid reciting your resume, but lying will backfire sooner or later. 

Don’t exaggerate your achievements or skills because it will only lead to more trouble. Keep it simple and professional – highlight the important aspects and traits that make you stand out.

2. Keep it Professional

As we have emphasized above, keep your answer professional-based. This means that you should only focus on telling the interviewer about your educational and career history relevant to the job you are applying for.

If you must talk about something personal like your hobby, ensure that it is related to the job. For instance, if you are applying for the role of a researcher and have a reading hobby, you can talk about this since reading is a crucial skill for research work.

Of course, you may not have hobbies that are related to the job. So the idea here is to use your discretion and be as authentic as possible. 

3. Highlight Your Strengths and Accomplishments

Remember that this interview stage is your chance to create a first impression that will resonate well with the interviewer. So put your achievements and strength in the spotlight. Let the interviewer know how you have contributed to your previous organizations and how that experience will help the company achieve its goals.

For example: 

“At ILKS, I helped us increase the number of students we serve by over 25% by redesigning our admissions process. I also streamlined our financial aid system to ensure a smooth and efficient operation that enables us to deliver more help to more students. I will do the same for this organization as well.”

One thing to note when talking up your strengths and wins, pay attention to the recruiter. If they appear more interested in any aspect of your answer, make sure you elaborate more on that without overdoing it.

4. Talk About Your Personality

The purpose of the “tell me about yourself question” is to get to know you beyond the qualifications and experience. The interviewer wants to understand what kind of person you are and how your personality will fit into the organization’s culture.

Consider the desired qualities the organization stated in the job description, then match these with your characteristics and traits, and explain how they will help you fit in the job position: “I am a hardworking person who gets things done in a timely manner. “

Avoid generic answers as well.

5. Why Do You Want to Work for the Company

Your interviewer also wants to know why you think the organization is ideal for you. Here you need to show how your passion and skills align with the company’s objectives and have a clear vision of how you can help them succeed.

For example, your company is passionate about transforming young people’s lives, which also resonates with my values; I would like to contribute to this cause through my work in your organization.

6. Keep it Conversational

Practice your answer before the interview. In fact, the more you practice, the better your response. But don’t memorize. 

The interview should have a conversational flow and feel natural; the recruiter should feel as if you were having a casual conversation with a friend or colleague and not reciting lines from a script.

The HR Manager may be understanding with new graduates if they answer the question in this manner, but it is a red flag for a candidate with a bit more experience. 

What to Avoid in Answering the Question Tell Me About Yourself

When answering “Tell me about yourself,” avoid:

  • Reciting your resume: A resume summarizes your qualifications and experience; it is not the entire story. Don’t recite your resume verbatim; instead, focus on highlighting what the employer is looking for in the job position and how your experiences will help you meet those needs.
  • Get too personal: While the interviewer is interested in knowing more about you, you don’t want to divulge too much personal information unrelated to the job you are applying for or your professional accomplishments and experiences.
  • Speaking ill of your former employer: Even though you may not be fond of your former company, it is vital to maintain a professional demeanor during your job search and avoid speaking negatively about your former employers.
  • Discussing contentious topics: Avoid topics like religion, politics, race, ethnicity, gender, etc.

“Tell Me About Yourself” Sample Answers 

Sample #1 “tell me about yourself answer” for Someone with No Experience

I graduated from the University of Florida in May with a degree in Marketing and spent the summer working as a sales associate for XYZ Company. During my time there, I gained valuable sales skills and developed my people skills by interacting with customers daily. We built close relationships with many customers through personalized customer service and high-quality merchandise. As a result, we scored high in customer satisfaction surveys and were able to increase revenues for the company by 20% compared to the previous year. My experience so far has been exhilarating, but I’m glad I improved my communication and people skills, which makes me ready to accept ABC Company’s junior sales associate position.

Sample #2 “tell me about yourself answer” for Someone with Experience

Sure! I currently work as the head of IT at Meka, where I oversee a team of three programmers and manage the company’s IT systems and networks. Our objective is to increase productivity and efficiency by creating and maintaining up-to-date systems to support company operations. Last year, our team successfully upgraded the company’s internal systems to the latest available programs, which resulted in a 20% increase in revenue for Meka. Previously, I had a stint at a startup where we had to be creative with limited resources to develop our own IT solutions while growing the business from the ground up. This experience improved my adaptability and flexibility in problem-solving – a skill I am confident will benefit the team at your company. So that’s me in a nutshell.

Wrap Up

The “tell me about yourself” question is a standard interview question for many jobs. Hiring managers generally ask this question to learn about your personality and background and determine your suitability for the company.

But it is also a chance for you to control the narrative and sell yourself as a potential employee.

So, keep your answers brief, concise, and focused on the job you are interviewing for. We hope this “tell me about yourself answer” guide will help you put your best foot forward!

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