Common Interview Questions, Explained: How To Answer "Tell Me About Yourself."
This post is a continuation of our series that features expert insight on answering common interview questions.
The primary purpose of a job interview is for an employer to get to know you. To them, the easiest way to accomplish that is by asking the infamous question:
“Tell me about yourself.”
Interviewers not only pose this open-ended question as a way to transition from small talk into more technical and job-specific questions, but it also allows them to assess if you’re able to communicate clearly and confidently.
While this can be one of the most daunting, open-ended questions an interviewee may answer during the hiring process, below, we provide insight on how you can best respond.
How To Prepare for This Common Interview Question
Instead of dreading your next job interview, get ready for it and feel confident! When preparing your answer to this question, consider the following:
Identify the right starting point for your story.
While there aren’t any guidelines as to how you should answer this question, it’s essential to know where to begin your story. You don’t want to backtrack to high school, but you want to ensure you cover the experiences that make the most sense to the position you’re interviewing for.
Here are two examples.
“I graduated from [SCHOOL] in [YEAR] with a degree in [COLLEGE DEGREE] and began my professional career shortly after at [COMPANY] serving as a [JOB ROLE].”
“I have always had an interest in this field. After graduating high school, I began an apprenticeship with [COMPANY] and worked as a [JOB ROLE].
Spotlight your top experience and accomplishments.
As you continue sharing your story, include small highlights of your career that you are proud of, like the following?
- Did you receive a promotion?
- What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
- Did you overcome certain obstacles?
- Have you gained experience working with difficult colleagues or customers?
We promise it’s okay to brag about yourself during this time! You’ll get bonus points from the interviewer(s) if you can connect your experience and achievements to the job opening with their company. Try including keywords from the job description in your story.
“In that job, I specialized in [LIST OF 3-5 TOP SKILLS] and gained extensive experience in [LIST OF 3-5 JOB FIELD SPECIFICS]. The expertise I obtained from my previous roles set me up to succeed in the available job with [COMPANY NAME].”
Explain your current job situation.
After you’ve determined what story you will share with the interviewer(s), it’s important to catch them up to speed on your current situation. Provide answers to the following questions unprompted:
- Why are you interested in their job opening?
- Why are you leaving the job you’re in right now?
- What are you hoping to gain in a new role with a new company?
If you’re leaving your current role due to bad management or a poor work environment, do your best not to bash the company. Keep the conversation light and positive, and continue to show your excitement for having the privilege to interview with their company.
How to Answer the Question, “Tell Me About Yourself.”
If you’re struggling to nail down what to include in your answer to the question, “tell me about yourself,” use this script as a starting point, and don’t forget to keep your answer under two minutes. Don’t be afraid to practice!
“A little bit about me: I grew up in [CITY] with a passion for [LIST OF 2-3 PASSIONS].
Those passions aided me in getting my [COLLEGE DEGREE FROM SCHOOL or CERTIFICATE FROM APPRENTICESHIP, ETC.].
My first position was with [COMPANY] to serve as a [JOB ROLE]. In that role, I learned [LIST OF 3-5 LESSONS LEARNED].
From there, I transitioned into a new role with [COMPANY]. Serving as a [NEW JOB ROLE] helped me to try new things and overcome obstacles.
Some of my favorite projects include [LIST OF 3-5 RELEVANT PROJECTS].
My different experiences have enabled me to become a [LIST OF 2-3 PROFESSIONAL QUALITIES]. I am ready to take my career to the next level, and the job opening with [COMPANY INTERVIEWING WITH] sounds like it will be an excellent fit for my skill set and experience.
At Inova Staffing, we aim to help job seekers understand that common job interview questions don’t have to be intimidating.
This question is an excellent opportunity to showcase your personality, share your professional history, and highlight your interests. You’ll ace your next interview if you prepare to answer the critical questions with thoughtfulness and detail.
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