“Tell me about yourself” is one of the most frequently asked questions in a job interview. It sounds easy because all you need to do is talk about the one person you know the most—yourself—but many job seekers still have a tough time coming up with an answer.
In this article, you’ll learn how to answer the “tell me about yourself” interview question right away for you to appear confident and stand out among hundreds of applicants, win your job interview, and bag the job you applied for.
Before we go straight to the guidelines and examples, you need to understand first why interviewers ask this question. This will help you create the perfect answer.
“Tell me about yourself”: What interviewers really want to know when they ask you
93% of job seekers feel anxious during a job interview and hiring managers are aware of that, so they ask this question as an icebreaker to make job seekers ease into the actual interview. However, it doesn’t mean you can take this question lightly and tell the interviewer about every little detail of your personal life. This open-ended question actually provides an insight into your experiences, goals, personality, priorities, and values.
Your response serves as the starting point of your conversation and allows the interviewer to figure out the following questions to ask in order to know you better. If your answer is well crafted, the interviewer will be able to see right away that you’re the perfect fit for the job.
How to answer the “tell me about yourself” question
Format your answer like an elevator pitch to get the attention of the interviewer and to make him genuinely interested in you. It should be condensed, interesting, memorable, and explains what makes you valuable to an organization. In short, your elevator pitch should sell you.
To create an effective elevator pitch, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are you? Introduce yourself by mentioning your full name.
- What do you do? Summarize your professional experience and skills.
- What qualities make you stand out from other candidates? Why are you a good fit for the position? Review the job description and note what qualifications you exceed. It can be your years of experience, technical skills, or training.
- Why are you interested in the job position? How does it fit your career goals? Think of what excites you about the job and what opportunities you see in it.
- Why are you interested to work for this company and industry? What do you like about the company? Align the company’s mission, vision, and values with your career goals.
- What are the positive traits you possess that will help you thrive in this role? Think of how others see you. Highlight your soft skills and give the interviewer an idea of how you can effectively motivate others and adapt to changing situations.
Tips in answering “tell me about yourself”
After you have answered all the questions, the next step is to organize your ideas in a way that your answer tells a great story about yourself in less than a minute.
- Use the past, present, and future format to make your answer easy to follow. For the past, tell them about your relevant work experiences. The present should be your current role, duties, and top accomplishments. And lastly, tell them why you’re interested in the job position, your goals, and your plans for the future.
- Do not discuss your personal life unless the interviewer asks you about it. When you’re asked “tell me about yourself” they don’t literally ask you to tell them about yourself and your hobbies, life choices, and family background.
- Tell a memorable story. Share a story from work that shows your skills and capabilities. It can be about how you achieved a big goal, how you led a team towards success, or how you were able to overcome a professional obstacle.
- Give the interviewer a glimpse of your work history. Start your story from the beginning of your work history until your current or most recent role. Tell them about the company you worked for, what title you held, how long you worked in that position, and your responsibilities.
- Continue by talking about your biggest achievement. Remember, the achievement you mention should be a quantifiable result, like increasing sales or efficiency by a certain percentage.
- Show that you’re aware of what the company is looking for. Besides proving that you did your homework about the job, this creates a connection between you and the interviewer because this time, you’re no longer just talking about yourself. You’re including them in the conversation.
- Tell the interviewer why you’re a good fit for the position. Mention the experiences, skills, and other qualities you have that meet the job requirements.
Examples of answers to “tell me about yourself”
1) As the present sales manager at XYZ company, I have experience recruiting and training sales associates and developing strong relationships with clients. My sales department persistently exceeded our quotas for the past five years and generated significant sales growth of at least 25% per fiscal quarter. I understand that you are looking for someone who has a strong sales and managerial background. I am confident that my abilities and proven track record make me the perfect fit for this job.
2) I started my career three years ago as a graphic designer for ABC company, where I designed memorable marketing campaigns and communication materials. During my three years of work experience at ABC Company, I successfully created award-winning campaigns for our company, increasing our annual sales by 33% since launch. I have seen your graphic designs, and they’re all a pleasure to view. Your company is looking for a graphic designer who can deliver different visual content with excellent proficiency in Adobe Photoshop. I certainly know that I can bring a new look to your marketing materials and increase your ROI with my skills and accomplishments.
3) I’m a highly-skilled certified public accountant with more than six years of experience working in top accounting firms. Currently, I have worked at AAA Company for more than two years. My key responsibilities include maintaining financial records, risk assessment, and managing the budget. I am accountable for saving our company $300,000 in taxes in one year and increasing our monthly revenue by 23%. My experiences and strong mathematical skills meet your requirements and ensure that I consistently surpass demanding performance goals.
4) I have always been passionate about real estate, house structure, and the latest home designs since I was young. From there, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in real estate and help people find their dream homes. After I graduated real estate management and obtained my real estate license four years ago, I worked for BBB Company and have sold more than 300 homes and achieved a 35% in revenue last year. As a result, I was the top real estate agent for three consecutive years. I have read in your job advertisement that you are looking for a real estate agent with strong sales and negotiation skills to close deals. I believe my experience and passion for real estate are great assets to your company.
5) During my previous role as an administrative assistant at XYZ Company for six years, I played an integral part in supporting four senior-level executives. I helped coordinate meetings, worked on special projects, and maintained records and accounting for our office supplies. These experiences also honed my ability to negotiate with our suppliers, which helped XYZ company save $5,000 a year in office supplies. You specify that the ideal candidate should have the ability to perform various office duties. I’m confident that my skills and accomplishments can help me exceed the expectations for this role.
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