It is one of the most frequently asked questions during job interviews. It is also probably one of the hardest questions for most people to answer. Job seekers wonder what interviewers want to know about them and what their answer should be.
Part 1: How to Answer "Tell Me About Yourself"
There are a few key points to remember when answering this question during a job interview.
Keep your answers short and concise—no more than two minutes.
Highlight your life achievements that you are most proud of and make it a cohesive statement.
Tell them something that makes you stand out from other applicants.
Avoid using a monotone voice. Show your passion about yourself and your experiences.
Get across to them how your experiences make you the best candidate for the job.
Your approach should be the same with all interviews—write it down and practice if you have to.
Start with your basic information. Tell them where you’re from and how any experiences there helped shape your career decisions.
Tell them about your educational background; why you chose your college major and how it relates to your career goals.
Discuss the point at which you decided the career path you chose. Tell what built up to this experience. You want to create an interesting story about how you ended up your current career.
Discuss what interests you and what you are passionate about in life. Explain why you think these interests make you stand out above other applicants and how they will be beneficial to your prospective employer. This can also give you a chance to establish a more personal relationship with the interviewer.
Part 2: Answering Samples of "Tell Me About Yourself"
Some short answer samples
Here are some short and concise examples of how you can answer the question “tell me about yourself.”
Sample 1: I have a degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT. Some of my hobbies include hiking, basketball, and reading.
Sample 2: I grew up in Korea where I studied accounting and worked in an accounting company for two years. I enjoy jogging and bicycling for both fun and fitness.
Sample 3: I enjoy being around others and work well with people. I also like to challenge myself so that I can become better at everything I do, in both work and my private life.
Sample 4: I enjoy a variety of challenges and am a hard and conscientious worker and always apply myself fully to the task at hand. I enjoy relaxing with the newspaper in my free time.
Sample 5: At work, I am a hard worker and in my private life I enjoy relaxing with golf and fishing. It provides me with a nice balance in my life.
Some long answer samples
Here are a couple examples of somewhat longer answers with more details:
Sample 1: I majored in English Literature at the University of Washington and went on to graduate school due to my love of learning new things. After school I went to work in a Boeing as a web content editor, where I have now been for three years. My emphasis has been on writing but I have always enjoyed working with numbers, solving riddles, and working out logic problems. In my spare time I enjoy reading, watching movies and jogging.
Sample 2: I’ve been in Customer Service for ten years, helping people find the solutions they need in a timely manner. I have a reputation as a man who can get things done. For instance, a dealer I know who sold new and used cars had a customer seeking a luxury car that needed a specific part. He asked me for help after having no success through his usual contacts. I was able to find the part and ship it to him quickly and he was able to make the sale. I really enjoy being able to help people get what they need.
Part 3: Why Do Interviewers Ask "Tell Me About Yourself"?
Interviewers like asking this question because it should be easy. They think they are putting you at ease with what they see as a soft question.
What potentially makes it difficult is that it is an open-ended question. You are under pressure to provide relevant information quickly and succinctly. But they also want to see that you are an engaging individual with a good personality, which leaves a lasting impression and helps them remember you. Your answer should be interesting with a beginning, a middle, and a closing showing what your passion lies in.
- Lead with your strongest attributes that will be beneficial to the prospective employer. Be specific about your skills and keep things concise.
- If you can, put a monetary value on your work and be prepared to give details when asked. Include a monetary value that you have helped your current employer save or earn while working for them.
- Don’t get too relaxed and keep your conversation professional, but not stiff. Respect the boundaries and never discuss ethnicity, politics, or religion.
- Make sure you don’t babble or jump from topic to topic. You should tell an interesting story in about two minutes concisely and coherently.
- Unless the experience that led you to this career path started in high school, don’t talk about high school. Keep education discussions to college and graduate school.