How To Answer ᐈ “Tell Me About Yourself” in a Job Interview

October 20, 2022

15 min read

Being asked to tell about yourself in a job interview can be a little daunting. After all, you want to make a good impression and stay on the interviewer’s good side. But how do you sum up your life and work experience in just a few minutes? And what should you focus on? In this article, we’ll give you tips on how to answer “tell me about yourself” in an interview and how to make the most of this opportunity to sell yourself.

Why do interviewers ask the “tell me about yourself” question?

Only 20% of applicants made it through screening and receive an interview invitation. It would be pretty dumb to pile everything up on the simplest question and risk losing the chance to make a good impression. 

Interviewers ask “tell us a little about yourself” questions to get a sense of who you are and how you would match the company culture. They’re also trying to gauge your communication skills and see how well you can articulate your thoughts and experiences. So it’s important to remember that this isn’t just an opportunity to list your qualifications and work history. It’s also a chance to self-disclose and give the interviewer a sense of who you are.

StaffingPartner experts have prepared some interview tips on how to tell someone about yourself without sounding like a braggy know-it-all or coming up blank.

How to answer “tell me about yourself” in an interview:

  1. Choose the right opening for your story.

When you’re thinking about the “tell me about yourself” interview answer, choosing the right starting point for your story is essential. Ideally, you want to start with a recent experience or accomplishment relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a developer position, you might want to begin by talking about your experience in IT and how you developed your skills. If you’re applying to be a salesperson, on the other hand, you might want to start with a story about how you closed a big deal or overcame an objection. This gives the interviewer a sense of your abilities and shows that you’re already thinking about how you can be an asset to the company.

If you don’t have any relevant work experience, another option is to start with a suitable accomplishment from your personal life. For example, if you’re applying for a customer support specialist position, you might want to begin by discussing how you helped a friend or family member with a technical issue. This will show the interviewer that you have the patience and communication skills required for the job.

The starting point you choose for the “tell me about yourself” answer has to catch the interviewer’s attention and make them want to hear more.

  1. Talk about your current work and responsibilities.

After you’ve chosen your starting point, it’s time to give the interviewer a brief overview of your current situation. An example is: “I’m currently working as a Junior Python Developer at XYZ Company. In my role, I’m responsible for developing new features for our web application. I enjoy my work and have developed a strong skill set in Python and web development.” This gives the interviewer a sense of your current situation and how it relates to the job you’re applying for. It also shows that you’re motivated and have a good attitude toward your work.

When an interviewer asks: “Tell me about yourself”, but you’re not currently working, you can talk about your recent job or why you’re looking for a new opportunity. 

Make your answer short and stick to the point. The interviewer doesn’t need to know every single detail about your current job. A general overview of what you do on a day-to-day basis will be enough.

  1. Highlight impressive experiences and accomplishments.

Once you’ve given the interviewer a brief overview of your current situation, it’s time to start talking about your experience and accomplishments. When choosing what to share, focus on experiences and achievements relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a DevOps position, the best answer to “tell me about yourself” will be how you automated a process that saved your company time and money.

When discussing your accomplishments in the “tell me about yourself” interview answer, make sure to use quantifiable data whenever possible.

Let’s look at the following “tell me about yourself” example answer: “I increased sales by 25% in my first year on the job.” This is more impressive than saying, “I did a great job increasing sales.”

When discussing your experience, focus on stories that show you have the skills and qualities required for the job you’re applying for.

For example, if you’re applying to be a project manager, share a story about a project you managed from start to finish and how successful it was. Or, if you’re applying for a customer service position, share a story about how you went above and beyond to help a customer.

Make sure your stories are exciting and engaging. “Tell me about yourself” a good answer should illustrate how your experience is relevant to the job and why it makes you a good fit for the position.

  1. Explain what your future goals are.

After discussing your experience and accomplishments, it’s time to talk about your future goals. And that is where your ambitious and long-term career aspirations need to be mentioned.

When discussing your future goals, make sure they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position, you might want to discuss how you hope to become the company’s Chief Marketing Officer. Or, if you’re applying for an accounting position, discuss how you wish to become a partner at an accounting firm one day.

Your goals don’t have to be lofty or unattainable.

Consider these “tell me about yourself” sample answers regarding your plan for the future:

– “I hope to become one of the company’s leading experts on X and contribute to its success.”

– “I’d like to advance to a management position within the next five years.”

– “My long-term goal is to start my own business in the X industry.”

– “I hope to start my own business one day.”

While you don’t need your entire career mapped out, showing that you want your career to move forward and grow within the company is essential.

“Tell me about yourself” example answers:

When a recruiter asks you: “Tell me something interesting about yourself,” use these sample answers we prepared for any status you are currently in.

Sample Answer 1: Example answer template if unemployed

When you are currently not working, the “tell me something about yourself” sample answer could be:

“My latest position was a Java Developer at [company name]. I left that position because I’m looking for an opportunity that is more aligned with my career goals. I have experience in [skill] and [skill], which I believe could be beneficial in a role like this. At my previous job, I’ve [achieved something (with the data)], so I intend to bring that skill set to this organization. I’m thrilled about the possibility of joining [company name] because [reason you want to work there], and I believe I would be effective in the role.

In the long run, I hope to [career goal].”

Sample Answer 2: Example answer if you’re job searching while employed

If you are more like a passive job seeker, you may want to keep your response a little more general. We hope this “tell us about yourself” sample will help you to choose the right direction for your answer:

“I currently work at [company name] as a [job title]. I’m looking for a chance to use my skills and experience in [field] to [achieve something]. When I saw your vacancy, I thought this role was an excellent fit because it would allow me to use my [skill] and [skill], and I would help you [reach a goal]. At my latest job, I’ve already [reached a goal with data], so I believe I can definitely help you [reach a goal].

In the future, I hope to [career goal].”

Sample Answer 3: For candidates with good experience

It’s good to be you in this case! You have many things to say in an interview about yourself without sounding under or overqualified. Here’s how to answer the interview question “tell me about yourself” without breaking a sweat:

“I’ve been working in the [industry] for [number of years]. As a [current job title] at [company name], I use my [skill] and [skill] to help the company achieve its goals.

I’m excited about this opportunity because it’s a chance to use my experience to [help you achieve something]. I’m sure I will be a valuable asset to your team and contribute to your success.

In the long term, my goal is to [career goal].”

Sample Answer 4: For candidates with significant experience

It can be difficult to summarize your vast experience when the interviewer asks you the “tell me about yourself” question. You can use this example to structure your response:

“I’ve been working in the [industry] for [number of years]. In my current position as a [job title] at [company name], I managed to achieve [something you did] and [something you did], which helped the project reach its goals.

I’m excited about this opportunity because it’s a chance to use my experience in [specific technology] to [help you achieve something]. Considering the specifics of your corporate culture and values, which I have already researched, I’m confident I can work together with your team very efficiently and contribute to the success of the company.

In the long term, my goal is to [career goal].”

Sample Answer 5: For someone looking for a similar role at a new company

It is a demanding position to find the right “tell me about yourself” interview answer. You will have a chance to explain why changing the company in detail, so for this particular question, we suggest using this sample:

“I’m currently a [job title] at [company name]. I’ve been in this role for [number of years/months], and during that time, I’ve used my skills in [skill] and [skill] to achieve [something you did], which was beneficial for the company.

I’m really into [specific technology you use currently] and how it can be used to [benefit the company in some way]. When I saw that your company was looking for someone with my skill set, I thought it would be a great chance to use my experience and knowledge to help you guys. There are many good reviews about your company, and I hope to have a chance to contribute to your success.

My goals are to become [career goal].”

Sample Answer 6: For someone looking for a career changer

In following the “tell me about yourself” sample answer, we will focus on how to bring the interviewers’ attention to related to the new field skills. 

“For the latest [number of years], I’ve been working as a [job title]. I’ve gained a lot of experience and learned many valuable skills, such as [skill] and [skill]. During the last [number] of years, I’ve worked in tight contact with [job title from the field you want to switch to], and I’ve learned how to [skill related to the field].

I’m now looking for a career change because [reason you want a new job]. When I saw this opening, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to use my skills and knowledge in a new environment.

My long-term goal is [career goal].”

Additional tips for answering “tell me about yourself”

Here are a few more tips on how to answer the question “tell me about yourself” in an interview:

Practice your answer out loud

The first step of preparation is to sound confident and natural when you already know what to say about yourself in an interview. The best way to achieve that is practicing it aloud, in front of a mirror, if possible. Mind pauses between words, slurred words, and mumbling – these are all the things you want to avoid. Sit up straight, smile to look confident and make eye contact with the interviewer, as you would in a normal conversation.

Remember, all of this is about the first impression, and it matters

33% of recruiters said they needed only 90 seconds to decide whether to hire a candidate. The “tell me about yourself” interview question is usually the first thing recruiters ask. This is how they determine if they want to keep talking to you or not, so make an effort to appear as confident and open as possible.

Keep your answer concise

As you can see, our examples of what to say in an interview about yourself are pretty short and catchy. That’s how it should be – you want to give a recruiter an overview of your professional life and leave them wanting more. They will ask follow-up questions, so don’t worry about telling your entire life story in this one answer.

Know your audience

As you write your CVs depending on the position you’re applying for, you should also adapt your “tell me about yourself” answers to the role you’re interviewing for. If you’re applying for a senior position, focus on your experience and management skills. For a junior job, highlight how motivated you are to learn new things and how quickly you catch on.

Do a little research about the company. Try to understand what their values are. If they focus on teamwork, emphasize how well you work in a team in your answer. If they put an emphasis on innovation, share an example of how you came up with an innovative solution to a problem.

Be confident, not arrogant

An interview is an opportunity to sell your skills and experience, but it’s hard to find that golden middle between being arrogant and being too modest. When you’re thinking about how to answer “tell me about yourself” in an interview, remember that the key is to sound confident without coming across as arrogant. We all have something unique to offer, so make sure your answer emphasizes what sets you apart from the competition.

Keep it relevant to how you can help the company

Highlight your skills and strengths that match the job description. Keep in mind that tell me a little about yourself” means “tell me how you can be helpful to us and why we should hire you.” Use this question as an opportunity to show off the most relevant qualities to the job. If you can, share an example of how you used them in your previous roles to achieve success. Try to illustrate it with data. For example, you are a DevOps who saves its clients a few thousand dollars monthly by optimizing how they work with Amazon Web Services.

Keep it positive

The “tell us about yourself” interview question is an opportunity to make a good impression, so avoid talking about negative experiences or things you didn’t like about your previous job. Instead, focus on how you’ve grown professionally and what you’re looking for in your next role.

Do’s and don’ts when answering “tell me about yourself”

A few more things you should and shouldn’t do when answering the “tell me about yourself” interview question

DoDon’t
1-2 minutes is enough to answer the questions. Stick to these time frames.Mention your previous jobs, bosses, and colleagues in negative terms.
Give examples.Talk about your hobbies and other,  irrelevant to the job, things.
Summarize your resume.Give too much personal information (age, relationship status).

A final word on how to answer the “tell me about yourself” question

By following these tips, the “tell me about yourself” interview question wouldn’t be as disturbing for you as it was before. So take your time and write down your answer, record yourself answering it, and even practice with a friend or family member. And remember – the best way to ace this question is to practice, practice, practice! The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel when it comes time for your interview. We have some excellent vacancies you could be a good match for. Apply now, and we hope to see you at the interview to hear your “tell me about yourself” answer! Good luck!

FAQ

How long should it take to answer the “tell me about yourself” question?

Your answer should be between one and two minutes long, so watch your pauses between words and phrases.

What is the most important point in answering this question?

The most important thing is to focus on how you can help the company. The interviewer wants to know why they should hire you, so make sure your answer emphasizes your skills and experience that are relevant to the job.

I have never worked; what should I tell about myself in an interview?

If you’ve never had a job before, focus on your education and any relevant experience you have, such as internships or volunteer work. You can also talk about how you’re a quick learner and how excited you are to start your career.

I was fired from my previous job; how should I answer this question?

You don’t need to detail why you were fired, but you can briefly mention how you’ve learned from the experience. You might say something like, “I was let go from my last job due to budget cuts. It was a difficult situation, but I learned how to be more adaptable in uncertain circumstances.”

Read also: How to Prepare for an Interview as a Candidate

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