How to answer the tell me about yourself question in interview
Yet it does exactly the opposite.
When interviewers say: “tell me about yourself” people tend to go: “blah blah blah,” or blurt the first thing that comes to mind.
If you do this, it’s very bad news. You’ll find out why shortly.
In this post I’ll give you:
1) Four key tips to help you master “tell me about yourself” in a way that will have the interviewer lean in to say “tell me more.”
2) An easy yet powerful structure to follow to answer tell me about yourself.
3) Samples and examples to help you understand the different ways you can answer tell me about yourself (including a graduate example).
4) A link to download our new app, myPitch – This will make crafting your answer easy, and give you a way to film, practice, share and store your pitch so you can keep it as a handy reminder when you next have an interview.
So if you’d like to create answer to “tell me about yourself” that will take your interview in a direction you’d like it to head, keep reading.
1) Four key tips to help you master tell me about yourself
Tip 1 – Tell me about yourself – Keep your answer short
Recruiters have short attention spans.
Last year global recruiters Accountemps surveyed over 500 hiring managers. 42% said they formed an opinion of an interviewee between the 6 to 10 minute mark, 60% said they did this in less than 10 minutes.
This means you simply can’t waste this valuable time waffling on about your primary school education, hobbies or the town you grew up in.
Tip 2 – Tell me about yourself – Be genuine
Research from Princeton University shows people are hard-wired to make snap judgments.
Researchers found that when people see a new face their brains decide whether a person is attractive and trustworthy within one tenth of a second.
Yes, you read that correctly – one tenth of a second!
So how can you apply this finding in an interview?
While saying “be genuine” implies that you can fake it, I don’t mean that at all. Being genuine covers things such as making an effort to look the part of the role, applying to roles that you genuinely want and being excited about the opportunity that the role presents.
Tip 3 Make “tell me about yourself” be more about the interviewer
This isn’t meant to be a play on words.
The quickest way to get someone’s attention is to make the topic about the other person. For interviews this means what you might be able to do for the interviewer or the company.
So in your answer to tell me about yourself talk about something that the interviewer can relate to. Provide quantifiable achievements that support your claim for that role and build credibility with the interviewer.
Tip 4 – Use emotions and show empathy
You want the interviewer to relate personally to what you are saying. You can do this by including empathy and emotion.
In every role you will have people whom you support or assist.
In your answer to “tell me about yourself” use language that shows you understand your impact on the people whom you support, provide a service to or lead.
Now I’m aware that this might sound a bit confusing so here’s a structure and some examples to help you pull it all together.
2) An easy yet powerful structure to follow to answer tell me about yourself
I use a three part structure.
“I am……” [describe the role, or the role you would like to perform]
“I work with……” [tell the interviewer whom you support and why they need your support – use this statement to show you understand why people might need your help]
“In fact……” [provide a quantifiable achievement to support your claim and allow the interviewer to understand what you can do for them.]
3) Samples and examples to help you understand the different ways you can answer tell me about yourself
Tell me about yourself example 1
If I was pitching myself as a career writer I would structure my answer like this.
Q: Tell me about yourself?
A: I am a Career Consultant. [my role]
I work with people who often struggle to sell themselves in interview as they don’t know what makes them unique. [this shows whom I support and demonstrates empathy. I also show that I understand why people need my support]
In fact, over the past five years I have personally helped over 1000 people find their next job. [this is quantifiable achievement that supports my claim and allows the interviewer to understand what I can do for them]
Tell me about yourself example 2
Here’s another answer for a Recruitment Advisor
Q: Tell me about yourself?
A: I am a Recruitment Advisor.
I work with senior executives who are time poor and can often get stressed out when they are a staff member down.
In fact I recently I hired a Business Analyst. She saved the company $40,000 within the first 3 months of hire with a suite of reports she designed.
Tell me about yourself example 3
Here’s another answer to tell me about yourself for an Auditor
Q: Tell me about yourself?
A: I am an Audit Manager
I work with our senior management team who really need peace of mind that our accounts are in order.
In fact based on one of our auditing reports the company was able to raise $2 million dollars to enter into Asia.
Tell me about yourself graduate or fresher example 4
If you’re a graduate you will want to use a future-focused structure “to tell me about yourself”
Again use a three part structure.
I graduated with…[describe where you graduated, or where you are about to graduate from]
I’d like to work with….[give specific detail about where you'd like to work, targeted to the employer]
In the future, I’d really like the challenge of…[ be very specific about the impact you'd like to make]
You could also use this example if you are making a career change.
Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: I graduated last year with a degree in marketing.
I’d like to work with a digital agency to help organisations market themselves online.
In the future, I’d really love the challenge of taking a company from nothing to becoming a major international brand.
4) To really nail tell me about yourself download our new app, myPitch
One of the best ways to improve your skills is to practice and film yourself so you can review what you say, and work out ways you may improve.
I have found in my many years of interview coaching that often there are only one or two things that people do, that get in the way of other people understanding them. That of course determines how successful they will be in interviews.
For you, it could be that you speak too quickly. It could be that you speak too slowly. Or you may repeat yourself time and time again.
You could be going through life not knowing what’s getting in the way of your success.
So if you have an iPhone click here to download myPitch then share your answer with someone you trust, as they will be able to give you valuable feedback.
myPitch will make crafting your answer easy, and give you a way to film, practice, share and store your pitch so you can keep it as a handy reminder when you next have an interview.
Some final pointers to help you really nail “Tell me about yourself”
1) This is not a one size fits all answer. Do your research and make sure your answer relates to the role and the company.
2) Try to avoid too much jargon. This, of course, depends on your audience. If you are being interviewed by professional peers, you may need to choose some words to show you understand the technical terms important to your industry.
3) Practice your answer. The first time you talk it through you may feel awkward. You’ll need to be confident and comfortable in interview. The written word is also different from the spoken word. So talking through your answer will help you sound natural.
4) As I mentioned before, ask your (trusted) friends for feedback on your answer. If their eyes glaze, then you’ll need to refine your answer.