What if you finally got the interview opportunity to land a job at your dream company but have no idea how to answer tell me about yourself question from the interviewer? You know that you can be a good fit for the organisation, but when the question pops up, your mind suddenly goes blank and your tongue gets twisted.
They are very common scenarios during the interviewing process. With no clear structure and insufficient preparation, it is easy to feel baffled when giving a succinct answer and failing to show your best self. So, in this article, you’ll find the answer to formatting and crafting the perfect response to “Tell me about yourself”.
Table of Contents
Why Interviewer Asks “Tell Me About Yourself”
The question “Tell Me About Yourself” is often asked during the beginning of the interview as an icebreaker. But more than that, it is an essential first question for the hiring manager to evaluate your confidence and understand the compatibility between you and your desired job. Therefore, you need to know how to answer tell me about yourself question in a smart way.
Your answer to this question should look like a mini elevator pitch where you can emphasise your past experience, achievements, raise the interviewer’s interest and showcase why you are suitable for the job.
Bonus Tips: There are different variations to “Tell me about yourself”, so you should always be careful to identify how the interviewer might phrase the question in multiple situations. Some common variations include:
- Take me through your resume
- I’m interested in your background
- I’ve known the basics of you through your CV – can you tell me something that’s not there?
- Your journey here seems to have twists and turns – can you explain it in detail?
- Describe yourself
How to Answer Tell Me About Yourself: What Makes A Strong Answer?
Strategies on How to answer tell me about yourself questions depending on your background and experience. A fresh graduate will have a totally different answer from a manager who has been through a few companies with decades of experience.
If you’re still wondering about the winning formula for How to answer tell me about yourself question, let us tell you: it lies in the “Present, past and future” format. It’s best to start out with the present as this is the most pertinent information as to whether you are a good fit. Think about where you are in your career now and how it relates to the role you’re applying for. Then, move on to the past where you can tell the story of how you got to where you are, any significant milestones in the past that fuel you. Lastly, wrap up with the future by aligning your personal goals with your company’s.
The strong “why”
Why did you choose this position? Why should we hire you? Use this time to sell yourself by giving them a convincing “why” you are more suitable than other candidates. Tie your experience and career goals with the role you’re applying for and don’t forget to show that you’ve done sufficient research on company culture and core values.
Understanding the mission and vision of the company can be the key to making your “why” strong and relevant. If you’re interviewing for a business that values flexibility and work-life balance, you should avoid mentioning working overtime or sacrificing your weekend to meet the project deadlines.
Bonus Tips: Whilst it’s important to do research and prepare your answer in advance, you should avoid memorising everything and leave room for spontaneity. Once you find a template or format that suits your experience the most, practice answering the question as if you are in the interview. Write down your answer, arrange it to make sure it flows naturally and include all the key information.
Know your audience
You might get some form of “Tell me about yourself” at every single stage of the interview process, from the preliminary phone screen to the final interview with the CEO, and that doesn’t mean you will have the same exact answer every time.
If you’re speaking with the HR manager who has no idea about your technical skills, you might keep your answer broader and concentrate on the big picture, while if you’re speaking to a CTO or your line manager, it’s definitely smarter to get more technical and explain your hard skills in detail.
Dos and Don’ts: Final Tips So You Stop Wondering How to Answer Tell Me About Yourself
Interviewers often have certain expectations in terms of how you answer this question, so you might want to follow some rules.
It’s not only about keeping a professional and positive attitude about yourself and picturing a bright future with your desired company. It’s also about respecting your old workplace by avoiding any negative or derogatory comments about them. Even if you had a legitimate reason to be disappointed and unhappy, badmouthing your former company will only make you look ungrateful and bitter.
If the interviewer asks why you left a job, you can say it in various ways that seem lighter and more genuine, e.g. your last job was not a good fit or you are looking for a new challenge. If your bad relationship with your former boss is the reason why you leave, you could explain that the management style was not suitable for you and it was a learning opportunity for you to be better at managing difficult people at work.
Focus on quantifiable examples
Measuring success is always important. Employers always want some statistics to clearly see the potential investment in you. Saying that you do social marketing is alright, but to be specific you “increase the number of Facebook followers by 200% after the first 3 months” is much more impressive. If you can’t tell the exact number, make a realistic estimate.
Add your personality
Your personality makes you unique. At the end of the day, employers will choose someone who is memorable and stands out in their eyes. Therefore, knowing how to carry yourself, present and describe your personality will give you a strong point. Many interviewers these days are no longer interested in just your technical skills – while skills can be taught, having the right attitude and passion for the job cannot. If you can show that you are eager to learn, hardworking and can be trusted, there is a much higher chance you will be hired.
Get too personal
Showcasing yourself is essential, but giving too much information about your private life can backfire. Oversharing about your political views, marital status or religious affiliation won’t make you a more attractive candidate and can even create tension. The less discussed the better in this case.
Overwhelm the interviewer
The goal in answering the “tell me about yourself” question in an interview is to sell yourself as a confident, high-value employee. Rambling your response or overwhelming the interviewer with too many achievements can make them lost and confused. Instead, keep your answers to two or a maximum of three minutes.
Bonus Tips: If you are nervous and start to talk too much, take a breath. You can honestly admit when it happens and make it positive by saying “Wow, I think I just shared too much! I hope you understand that I’m really excited about this opportunity!”.
Now you know the essentials of how to answer tell me about yourself!
The truth is there is no one-size-fits-all for how to answer tell me about yourself question. But as long as you follow the key takeaways below, you are ready to make your first impression and make it last forever:
- Structure your answer using the Present-Past-Future formula
- Be positive and always focus on the quantifiable examples
- Be confident and always keep your answer brief and relevant
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best answer to “Tell me about yourself” question?
The best answer to “Tell me about yourself” will be the combination of key aspects of your personal and professional background. Using the “Present, past and future” formula will give you a structured answer that best describes yourself. Begin by sharing about where you are at the moment, then seamlessly transition to your past experience and conclude by connecting them to your future aspirations that align with the company goals. This approach will not only showcase your expertise and relevant skills but also demonstrate your ability to present yourself.
How do you start a response to “Tell me about yourself”?
You can start your response to “Tell me about yourself” by sharing where you’re from and your background. After that, you can transition smoothly into your professional experience, skills and key achievements through your past experience. Last but not least, discuss your future goals that tie to the position and the company’s mission and vision.
How to introduce yourself during an interview?
When introducing yourself during an interview, a structured approach is often highly appreciated. Start out with a brief personal background including your name, education, and relevant personal details. Then discuss your professional experience with a focus on achievement and key measurable results. It’s advisable to conclude with your passion for the role and how your skills align with the job’s requirements. The answer should be concise, positive, and tailored to the job description.
What weakness should I say in an interview?
When being asked about your weakness during an interview, it’s crucial to choose a genuine weakness that is not essential to the job at hand. The goal is to tell your weakness in a way that helps you gain ground rather than lose it. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a software engineer. The job description emphasises the need for technical knowledge but doesn’t mention anything about people skills or public speaking. In this scenario, you can answer the question by saying that you haven’t had much experience with public speaking, however, you’re a big learner and you could improve your public speaking skills if you ever needed for the job.