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Tell Me About Yourself: Why It Is Asked & How To Answer [With Sample Answers]

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Are you wondering how to answer the “Tell me about yourself” question during an interview?

It can feel like a tricky question that many people struggle to understand.

But, don’t worry because you can learn how to answer this question smoothly and land your dream job.

We’ve outlined how you can best answer the “Tell me about yourself” question and provided examples to help you craft your answer.

But first, let’s understand why interviewers ask this question and what exactly they want to hear from you.

Why Do Interviewers Ask Tell Me About Yourself?

If you want to nail not just an interview, but any situation where you have to interact with another person, knowing their intentions is crucial.

Normally, a company sets up a job interview to get to know you.

Your resume impressed them, and you look like the ideal hire on paper. An interview confirms whether or not you are a great candidate.

Tell me about yourself can also be a great way to ease into the conversation casually and break the ice.

It works both as a question that has subtext in terms of communication and awareness, and it also can be a friendly way to open up with your interviewer.

Interviewers can also ask this as a transitional question.

They could look to move the interview from introductions and or small talk to technical questions and get serious and more professional.

Tell me about yourself also displays how good you are at communicating the information you know about, which is a key skill to have in most jobs.

What Is The Interviewer Looking For?

When the interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, they aren’t just looking to start the official interview.

Here is what the interviewer is looking for:

  • A natural and considered answer that shows you took time to prepare for the interview
  • Smooth and effective communication
  • Your hard and soft skills
  • Preparedness
  • Presentation abilities

How to Answer Tell Me About Yourself

A part of interview etiquette is well-preparedness, especially for the basic questions.

“Tell me about yourself” is not a technical or a personal question but one seeking a summary of your professional life. You want to talk a little bit about what you currently do.

Get into the scope of the job role, accomplishments you’ve earned, or lessons you are learning.

You’ll also want to tie in your past by mentioning how you got to where you currently are. It could mean bringing up experience and or education or job-relevant events.

You then want to segue into what you’re looking forward to and how the job you’re interviewing for ties into your plans.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

When answering the “Tell me about yourself” question, be careful to choose the right starting point.

Most people prefer to start in the past and move to the present rather than the future.

You can also start with your present, move to the past, and then your future.

However, never start with your plans. You want to show confidence and capabilities to do the job now, not in a few years.

You want to focus on impressive accomplishments and experiences.

Your answer should aim to wow the interviewer and engage them, meaning you’ll stand out from the other candidates. 

Just like with storytelling, you want to hook the audience from the first line. Focus on building interest and reminding them why they picked our resume out of all the hundreds or thousands of others.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

One of the main things to avoid saying in an interview is looking lost.

You cannot look flustered, mumble, stutter or act nervous, especially at this point. Confidently outline who you are.

A lack of confidence will cut you from the race to the position faster than bad replies.

You also want to avoid regurgitating your resume point by point. The interviewer has your resume in front of them and knows what is in it.

Use this opportunity to highlight what your resume cannot show them.

Examples: How to Answer Tell Me About Yourself

Now that you have an idea of what interviewers are looking for, you can begin preparing your answer for your next interview.

Here are three example answers of how to answer “tell me about yourself”.

Example Answer For Candidates With No Experience

“I recently graduated with a degree in Business and have been pursuing a Project Management certification.

I’ve been interested in business since I started a stand to sell used books from my previous school year in Grade 8.

I sold my old textbooks and even class notes to those coming into the grade behind me.

One of my key accomplishments in my academic career was speaking at a tech conference on sustainable business practices with the help of AI.

It led me to an internship at BioTech.

I am currently looking for a full-time position that will allow me to delve more into the field of sustainable businesses which is what attracted me to this position.”

Why This Answer Works

This answer focuses on academic achievements and showcases a strong work ethic.

It also highlights what drew the candidate to apply for the position and shows that they did their research on the company practices and values.

The candidate also highlights their current pursuits that could come in handy at the company.

Example Answer For Candidates Switching Career Fields

“I am currently a manager at Macy’s where I have worked for the last 4 years.

I started as a sales associate and increased the annual sales by 13% in my first year.

I wanted to improve our inventory software and this desire led me to software development, user experience, and finally product management.

I became fascinated with the aspects of my job that were similar to those of a product manager and began taking a certificate course.

I fine tuned our proprietary software and published a blog documenting my journey.

I’m looking to transition from sales to product management which is why I am looking for a new opportunity.”

Why This Answer Works

Instead of focusing on missing product management experience, this answer focuses on transferable skills.

It also highlights significant achievements and shows the entrepreneurial drive of the candidate.

It acknowledges the career switch but also shows they are equipped to handle the job.

Example Answer For Experienced Candidates

“I graduated with a Computer Science degree in 2013 and was offered a position at Google as a junior developer.

I wanted a bigger challenge and chose to learn to develop iOS apps.

After three years at Google, I left to work as an iOS developer for a startup.

Then I moved to London to pursue my dream with ThinkTank as a senior mobile developer and have remained in the position since 2019.

I’m currently looking to take my career in fintech to the next level which is why I’m looking for a new opportunity.”

Why This Answer Works

This answer gives quantifiable achievements and highlights major career moments which make this candidate stand out. It’s concise and remains positive.

There is no badmouthing former employers or job roles but rather a focus on self-improvement and career growth.

Additional Tips for Impressing an Interviewer Asking Tell Me About Yourself

Crafting the ideal answer to “Tell me about yourself’ takes time and experience.

However, even those with decades in the job industry sometimes flounder.

To help you get the perfect answer to being asked to talk about yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Stay Positive

It is generally in bad taste to bring up anything negative during a job interview.

Don’t bring in your professional or academic failures nor should you jokingly mention your toxic traits.

Avoid saying anything negative about your current or former employer or school. Remain positive or at the very least neutral.

2. Be Concise

Your answer should be straight to the point. It is not the time to joke, tell your life story, or craft a LinkedIn update. Give succinct details and avoid fluffing your reply.

Keep it short, sweet, and interesting. Allow the interviewer to be intrigued and ask for details.

3. Avoid Personal Details

Don’t mention your relationship status, pets, friends, favorite color, or anything that does not directly relate to your professional or academic experience.

Also, don’t try to play the sympathy card by bringing in traumatic events that happened, even if they were in your professional life.

Additional Questions to Be Aware Of

“Tell me about yourself” is only the first question of the interview.

More questions include:

  • What is Your Greatest Strength?: Interviewers want to know what your best professional quality is. They want you to explain what you are exceptionally good at and offer quantifiable examples to prove it.
  • Why Should We Hire You?: is used to gauge what you bring to the table. Interviewees use this question to allow you to explain, in detail, what unique value you will add to the company.
  • Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?: The ability to plan for the future and work toward a goal is remarkable. That’s why they ask this.
  • What Makes You Unique? Is another way to ask why they should hire you. They are trying to learn what other qualities you have that would be advantageous to the company.
  • What Do You Like to Do For Fun? This is the only vaguely personal question usually asked in an interview to learn more about your personality and hobbies to see if you are a good fit for the company culture.

Wrapping Up

A job interview is a nerve-wracking situation and, “Tell me about yourself” can be a tricky question to answer, especially when you’ve barely been in the room for five minutes.

However, with a little confidence and preparation, this can become your most uncomplicated question to answer in the interview.

Focus on your job-relevant accomplishments and goals, and keep your reply professional, and concise.

Pace yourself to avoid stumbling over words and confidently share a summary of your professional life.

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