How To Answer The Interview Question “Tell me about yourself.”

Hello

Once you walk into the interview room, shake hands and get introduced to the recruiter and hiring manager (and maybe a few more VIP’s) the most common first question you will be asked is “Tell me about yourself.” If we can all agree that this is the most common first question that will be asked of you in a job interview then why do so many people have a difficult time answering it? This opening question is the perfect time for you to make yourself look amazing.

As a recruiter I know this questions sucks because not everyone likes talking about themselves. I personally used to hate this question as the interviewee. How long should my answer be? What should I say? Do they want to know that live alone and have a dog? This question is really meant to get your nerves out of the way. To get you to relax and get ready for the interview questions that count. Secretly I want you to answer this questions without boring me to death. Make it short, sweet and to the point.

Don’t get too Personal

The recruiter and the hiring manager are NOT YOUR FRIENDS. They may become your best friends if and when you get the job but for now they don’t want to hear about your boyfriend problems, the crazy trip you took to Las Vegas or that one of your hobbies is to post YouTube video’s of your cat. The easiest thing to remember is to just not talk about your personal life i.e. family, spouse, pets etc.

Boring

Now that you know not to talk about your personal life make sure that you don’t bore the recruiter and hiring manager with your perfectly recited life history a.k.a. reading off your resume. We also don’t want to listen to you talk about how you’re the perfect employee. It is never a good idea to have the recruiter yawning in the beginning of your interview. If you want to leave a negative impression go ahead and continue talking about how you’re such a hard worker, how loyal you are to each company that you’ve worked for, that you’re dedicated 110% to all of your projects and that you also love working weekends. Well, I don’t hear the weekend statement too often but I think you get my point.

What Recruiters want to Hear

We want a quick rundown of your experience not in 10 minutes but in just a few sentences. We want to hear what you’ve done in your career, and what you plan on doing. Talk about your most recent career experience, things you have accomplished and most importantly be specific and include details. Make sure you also talk about specific skills that you have that are directly related to the job you are applying for.

Prepare

Do not think that you can just “ad-lib” your response. If you do you have a higher chance of rambling off and talking about all sorts of personal stuff you didn’t mean to share. To avoid rambling you need to prepare ahead of time what you’re going to say. Take a few minutes a few nights before the interview to develop a statement or a few sentences that clearly summarizes who you are, why you’re wicked and why the company should employ you.

Sample Answer

“As you can tell from my resume, I have been deeply involved with Administrative work since the past 10 years. I have always been interested and enjoy working in health care, but thanks to some great opportunities I have had a chance to work in many different fields such as Law and even online as a virtual assistant.

My most recent experience has been working online as a virtual assistant for Jane Doe, an author. I played a critical part in evaluating data, literature review and researching various topics for Mrs. Doe.

My chief strengths are my ability to develop great rapport with clients and my attention to detail.

I am specifically looking for a role that will challenge me but also utilize my current skills. This is why I applied for your role at XYZ company and hope that there is an opportunity for me here. “

At the End of the Day

It’s strange that more candidates don’t spend the time to prepare for exactly how to answer this question. This is a great opportunity for you to stand out from your competition and prepare a few sentences. This question may seem informal and just a nice way to break the ice and start the interview but DO NOT let your guard down. Answering this question with a confident yet quick summary of why you are wicked will definitely be a fantastic start to what we all hope is a great interview.

Photo By: Alan O’Rourke

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13 thoughts on “How To Answer The Interview Question “Tell me about yourself.”

  1. Chidinma Ezeani
    October 28, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Wow! I must say I wish I found you sooner! I am a 22 year old recent graduate. I just got an interview date today for Tuesday and I am so scared! I don’t want this to be a “fake interview”…had a lot of those lately. The position is titled “Executive Assistant for COO/CFO. I know I should be confident, but I really don’t think I am going to get it because very few women my age are “Executive Assistants”. I feel like the HR just wants to do a practice interview with me.

    Any tips to get my worries out the way besides “practice, practice, practice”. =) It would be much appreciated.

    Thank you so much!

  2. October 28, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Hi Chidinma,
    If you have zero experience then yes this might be a fake interview but keep in mind when hiring an Executive Assistant it’s not just the qualifications that recruiters are looking for but the fit with the COO/CFO. If you already don’t think you’ll get it then nothing I can tell you will help. Just make sure you prepare for all the common interview questions and try to learn from this interview if you want to be an Executive Assistant. Good Luck!

  3. Shannon Johnson
    November 14, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I am glad that I have found your site as well. I have an interview for a job in another state that I am really hoping to get. I will be following your advice.

  4. November 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Good Luck Shannon!!!!

  5. February 21, 2012 at 3:11 am

    I have a habit of bring up my hobbies and interest, I also mentioned that I need high paying company in one of my interview before which is a mistake. I like your blogpost, thanks for sharing your part as a recruiter.

  6. February 21, 2012 at 5:06 am

    Thanks Henry,
    I’m glad you learned from your mistakes :)

  7. Sridhar
    April 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Thanks Dorothy,i got what i want fr ur blog. I was looking for a nice sentence to end the topic which i got in ur blog.

  8. May 10, 2012 at 6:40 am

    This is by far the best resource l have come across .
    l’m preparing for a EA to CEO interview and l feel ,l have the job already with this resource.l appreciate this and want to thank you!
    Thank you Dort !

  9. Benny Thomas
    October 3, 2012 at 10:45 am

    I have seen many similar stuff, but yours is an out standing one..
    This will go a long way helping the aspiring candidates and those who ever find it difficult to get the right phrases to compile their experience and achievements to be presentable in precise..

    Thank You Dorth..

  10. Bremda Carreras
    December 11, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Awesome. I have worked as an EA for over 15 yrs. and the opening question Tell me About Yourelf will set the tone for the remainder of the interview. It is crucial to nail it. I have an interview today, and you and I have very similar experience and I cant believe how lucky I am to have come across your blog. I’ve been going back and forth with my script and you put it into perspective for me. Thanks. Fingers crossed.

  11. December 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Hi Brenda,
    Glad you liked the post. How did your interview go?

  12. Chidinma Ezeani
    February 12, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Hi Dorothy!

    Not sure if you still check this BUT you were right that was a practice interview that I am vey happy I didn’t get! A month later I got a job in film finance and have been working my way up ever since. =)

    Your advice helped a lot.

    Stay blessed,

    Chidinma Ezeani

  13. February 13, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    That’s great news Chidinma! Thanks for sharing your update.

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