The interview happens mostly after your resume has gone through the selection process. That means they have liked what you have put there. Congrats yourself. You have done great work on the resume. Now it’s time to prepare for the interview. As part of the preparation, it is very important to prepare and practice for the most common questions. And, how to answer “tell me about yourself” is the very first expected on the list.
This may seem to be an easy question as it is just about yourself. This is a kind of open-ended question where you are not sure what to share from your life story. How you answer the question “tell me about yourself” will set the first impression of you and this is where you can set a tone for the entire interview. While answering this question you have to make sure that your answer is relevant to the post or company. For that, you have to revisit your job description and research about the company. Keep in mind that it is not just about what you say, but it is also how you say it. They are also evaluating your soft skills and interpersonal skills. So, you have to craft a perfect answer, practice in front of a mirror, camera or with a friend.
Why Interviewer asks this question “tell me about yourself”
The key to how to answer the question “tell me about yourself” is to understand why this question is asked from an interviewer’s perspective. Put yourself to the employer’s shoes, craft a perfect answer that matches their intention. Because you answer to this question will set the direction of the interview with further questions.
The question is mainly asked for the following reasons:
- Determine whether you are a good fit for the role and company.
- Evaluate how effective, you are in communication
- Whether you can present professionally.
- To smoothly start the interview without stressing you out as this is an easy and open-ended way to start a conversation.
- They want to see how you react to an unstructured question.
- They want to get a feel for what you deem to be “important” in your career or life.
How to answer to “tell me about yourself”
In most cases, the goal of the question is to determine whether you are a good fit for the role and company. So, make your answer focussed on how you are a good fit for the job and organization. Take this as an opportunity to market yourself as the right candidate for their requirements. Use your previous examples of accomplishments and experience to support your statements. One most important thing to keep in mind while answering this question is that there is a hidden word “professionally” attached to the end of the question. Starting from this question, throughout the interview they will evaluate you on how calm and confident you are while speaking, your eye contact.
Tips on how to answer for tell me about yourself
Be prepared to answer it
This is one of the most asked common interview questions and the one which will give you enough time to answer. And more, this is going to be the very first question, so the impression starts here. Don’t neglect it as it is a simple question and it is about you. Nothing comes out as perfect for the first time.
Tailor the answer to role and company
Spend some time research about the position, company and the persons you may be meeting there. There may be some common interest between you both. Craft a tailored answer based on your findings, and have those elements that prove that you are a perfect fit for the position. This will help the recruiter realize that you have spent some time researching them.
Use past stories and examples to support your accomplishments.
Rather than just saying what are the things you are capable of, share stories of your accomplishment and how your skills align for the position or company. Focus on those which are more relevant to the job description or company. Support with numbers and results you achieved.
Keep it short and simple
This is not the time to share your 20+ year life story. Keep it short and focus on those things that are relevant to the job and the company. This is also an evaluation of how you speak in meetings with clients, bosses, and co-workers. A good practice is to make something from 60 to 90 seconds.
Being authentic is a very important part while answering to tell me about yourself also for all other interview questions. If you invent a story about yourself, there is a chance you may get exposed and there will be more follow-up questions on that where you will get stuck.
Keep it professional
When someone asks this question, there is a hidden meaning to be your professional story that is relevant to the role and company. This, not a time to share about your personal details like family or stories unless asked.
Keep It Positive
If you have been laid off fired from your previous organization, this is not the best moment to mention it. Wait for the specific question about reason or your decision to change job. Also don’t badmouth your previous employer as it is a big turnoff.
Inject some passion if it is relevant.
If the role or company has something that aligns with your passion, share your story from a passionate perspective. Make your application stand out and memorable from the pool. Your answer may be something like. “I’m really passionate about x and y and so I was really attracted to your company…”
Be prepared for follow-up questions
Keep in mind the follow-up questions, prepare and reserve your answers for that. Don’t share everything in your tell me about yourself answer. Make it dialogue, not a monologue. Also, expect some questions from your story and prepare yours to answer for that also. Be thorough on all the details you share with them.
Practice in front of a mirror, camera or friend.
Don’t feel confident that, it is just about me and I will make it up live during the interview. Analyze and work on your body language, eye contact, voice tone by practicing in front of a camera, mirror or someone from friends or family circles with a stopwatch. This will give you more confidence while being in an interview.
How not to answer to tell me about yourself
Being a lot of chances to get this wrong. Please avoid the following common mistakes that you might make while answering the question.
The resume reciter
Don’t just recite your resume from the beginning even if they ask like walk through the resume. They may have already read it or are going to read it. Make it a kind of elevator pitch with highlights of your accomplishments that is more relevant to this position.
Don’t make it too much or too little
This is not the time to overload all your information about you to the interviewer. This is the first question, there are enough to follow in the pipeline. Also making it too little may wonder them why you are not open or aren’t you prepared. 60-90 seconds is a good length.
Avoid personal information
Keep away your discussion about marital status, spouses, children or family. This means nothing to a stranger unless they asked. An interviewer is not going to hire you because you have such cute children, a wonderful husband or wife.
Religious or Political Affiliations:
Avoid potentially contentious subjects such as religious and political views and affiliations. Keep a lid on it as we are not sure whether the interviewer shares our views. In many cases, these may work against you.
Keep your hobbies away
Unless the hobby is directly related to the job keep it under wraps. There is a danger that this passion for your hobby may backfire you. Taking about a hobby that might seem to more than the career may take the chance of hiring as no employer wants someone who asks for extensive vacation or leaves to pursue his passion or hobbies.
Be modest or too arrogant
You are here to sell yourself. Being too humble will make you fail to communicate your strong points. Be true to your personality and don’t rely on the interviewer to see how great you are.
Don’t clarify the question, whether they mean professional experience, personal, college activities or something else. This makes you look hesitant, confused or unprepared. Dive into the approach we discussed and they will interrupt you if they are looking for something else.
Don’t rush into the reasons why you are looking for a role in that company or how they can benefit you while answering this. Let them ask for it when they feel confident in your other answers.
Don’t memorize or overprepare.
Your answer should come as authentic, so don’t memorize or overprepare. Nobody likes a canned answer.
The same question may be asked in some other forms as follows
The same question “tell me about yourself” may be asked in any of the following ways. Even it is not supposed to be the same answer for each of these, there is an opportunity for you to choose how to answer.
- I have your resume in front of me but tell me more about yourself.
- Walk me through your experiences.
- I’d love to hear more about your journey.
- Tell me a little bit more about your background.
- Walk me through your resume.
- Tell me something about yourself that’s not on your resume.
- How would you describe yourself?
Examples on how to answer to tell me about yourself
There is no perfect answer to any interview question and so for tell me about yourself also. You can find your own way to answer with the above points. But anyway, I am including a sample template for reference for both fresh graduate and experienced people. But I have to say this is not the one that you should follow. The perfect answer is with you.
Given below are some of the examples for your reference from which you can draft your own. You can take these examples as a guide on how to craft your own answer to the question “tell me about yourself”.
Hi, I am ………(name) from ………(place). I completed my ………. (course) from …………(college) which is affiliated to ……………(university). I completed my twelfth grade from …………………. (school) with 9X% from CBSE Boards. My family includes my father who is an engineer, my mother who is a doctor and my brother who is pursuing his MS in Computer Science from………………(college/university). As a representative for my class, I have helped organize various ……………… (mention any events). This has really helped me learn ……………… (skills you learned while organizing the events).
I love playing chess and have represented my school in various district and state-level chess competitions. I am also a part of ………. (organizations/community/club) where I have participated in community service at various schools teaching the underprivileged and visiting a number of old age homes (or whatever). Being part of the …………… (organizations/community/club) has given me a different perspective of life which makes me appreciate what I am and where I am. I am also interested in ……………… (mention any specific hobbies/interests that are relevant to the job). Currently, I am learning/practicing ……………… (stuff that will help you in the job).
The above example is the simplest for a fresher if he doesn’t have any such great accomplishments within college campuses but had scored great during his school days. Here it is ok to share about your family and hobby in such cases but without giving much focus to it.
I regularly complete full-stack development for websites in 7 or 8 weeks. I cut delivery times by 30% comparing to others. Now I’m looking to take my career to the next level and move out of freelance work into a full-time employee for a company where I can be a part of a team, but also allows me to focus my energy on my best strength, working directly with big customers on big projects. I’d like to build a long-term career that lets me focus on professional growth.
Sure! So, I’ve always enjoyed writing and public speaking, even going back to high school. This led me to pursue writing-related passions, for example in college, where I was an editor for our school newspaper. In addition to writing, I got to learn how to manage a team and the writing process.
During college, I took my internship at ……… in their social media team, writing copy and social content for the company blog, but I raised my hand to work on the communications plan for a product launch which is where I discovered my interest in product marketing. After switching to a product marketing team and being part of their two most successful new product launches during the term., I realized I’m excited in the field. I work best on products that I love and use and given that I’m a big user of your company’s products. I jumped at the chance to apply when I saw the open posting.
Here even though the candidate has just internship experience, the way she shares her passion for the job and how she succeeds during her college internship will really impress the interviewer. Also, she has let them know that she is already a user of their product.
Well, I am currently working at ………. (company) and I specialize in doing …………. (your expertise). I would like to describe myself as a person with a versatile skill-set, a lot of integrity and a willingness to go the extra mile to satisfy a customer. Perhaps the best way to let you know the same is by sharing one of the recent experiences. Two months back while I was at the client’s location, they have shared a difficultly of integrating one of their recently purchased software. When I enquired about the product that was something, I was familiar with. When I offered to take a look at it, within a few minutes I found that they have missed one of the important steps during the installation. I told him I would be happy to wipe the system and reinstall the software correctly. Even though the client refused first, as the product was too expensive and they have already approached an analyst and he has stated some other reason which may cost around some $1000. When I told him, it was a simple matter of wiping the previous version and reinstalling it, he was stunned. I did the whole project for a fraction of the cost the other “analyst” had quoted. My client was so happy he referred me to his friends and I’ve done similar work for several other companies in town as a result.
The above example is a perfect one for an experienced candidate on how to answer “tell me about you” question as he is sharing one of his recent accomplishments from his recent experience. Freshers also can share similar if you also have any relevant experience gained from your college campus, internships or organizations, clubs or communities.