How to answer tell me about yourself

Perfect response to ‘Tell me about yourself’ into your opportunity to ace the interview + examples

Ilam Padmanabhan
Career Guru

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So, tell me about yourself! Photo - Pexels

Here’s a video version of this blog — https://youtu.be/k9BQIjAiYvE

Most interviews start with the question, “tell me about yourself.” This is your opportunity to sell yourself and make a great first impression. Because the interviewers have no idea what you’re going to say, this gives you control of the conversation and establishes a framework for the remainder of it.

In this post, we will discuss how to answer this question effectively and make a positive impression on your interviewer.

The perfect response to tell me about yourself.

It’s a story: People like stories, even grown-ups! People listen to stories better than a fact list. This will help the interviewer know you better and understand what makes you tick. You already have an impressive CV, that is why you are at the interview table. You don’t need to repeat it. What you need is a standout story!

It’s an interesting story: You want the interviewer to be engaged and interested in what you’re saying. The story should be about you but make sure it is interesting. It should be something that will make the interviewer want to hear more.

It’s a short story: Do not go on forever! We love talking about ourselves, but an interviewer is not your best friend. Keep it sharp and crisp. I generally open by saying, “I love talking about myself, but I will try to limit myself to 2–3 minutes.” I set expectations that they need to listen to me only for 2–3 minutes. Almost everyone can listen for 2–3 minutes.

It’s a true story: Do not make anything up! This is important. You want to be honest and tell the interviewer about yourself. If you make things up, they will find out, which will ruin your chances. Please do not make yourself sound better than you are or tell the interviewer what you think they want to hear. Be genuine and tell them the truth.

It’s a relevant story: This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your skills and experience. Make sure the story is relevant to the job you are interviewing for. The story should be about your experience, not what you studied in school. Make sure that your story illustrates how you meet the requirements of the job you are interviewing for.

It has a happy ending: Make sure your story has a happy ending. Nobody wants to hear about your problems! The interviewer is not interested in that. They want to see how you overcame obstacles.

It has a point: Every story should have a moral or a lesson to be learned. What did you learn from this experience? What can the interviewer learn about you from your story?

It’s a well-researched story: Before the interview, do some research on the company to tailor your response accordingly. Find out what they are looking for in a candidate to address those needs in your answer.

It’s a very well-practiced story: Practice, practice, practice: The more you practice, the better you will be at selling yourself in an interview. Take help from friends or family to practice with you. The more prepared you are, the better your chances of answering this question.

The structure of your answer:

There are three parts to every good answer, introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should be short and catchy, the middle is slim and exciting, and it closes with a bang.

An example: (that works for me, you need your own version)

Beginning:

I was young and had no idea why I chose to study chemical engineering. But halfway through my education, I realized I wanted to do something else. I ended up in financial services by accident…..

Middle:

I was fortunate to have great managers who saw my skills to get things done. They gave me opportunities to try project management which helped me learn new skills. I was lucky to lead a complex project.. and traveled to many countries and cultures.

Halfway through my career, I realized that I loved solving problems & collaborating with a broad set of people and started looking for roles…and ended up in another position where I could learn/explore…

End:

After a few years of playing the *** role, I feel the need to change…This role looked good, so I wanted to give it a shot…

That is a short story of who I am and why I’m here today!

The above response covered a few areas

  • I talked about my strengths
  • I talked about my key skills
  • Acknowledged the role of my mentors & gratefulness
  • Briefly covered my exposure to different geographies/cultures
  • Briefly covered why I changed roles
  • Mentioned that I was trustworthy — why would my managers trust me with giving complex projects otherwise
  • Explained why I’m looking for a change

Conclusion:

The perfect answer to the tell me about yourself question should be structured like an authentic, relevant and exciting story. With a little bit of preparation and practice, you can ace this question and give the interviewer the information they need to decide about you.

What is your perfect answer to the tell me about yourself question? Please share it with us in the comments.

If you liked this, you might also find value from the post below

Bonus tip: Sometimes, the interviewer will ask you to tell them about yourself in one word or short sentence. This is your opportunity to be creative! You can tell them about your personality or the strength you have. For example, if you are applying for a job that requires customer service, you could say, ‘I am a people person.’

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Ilam Padmanabhan
Career Guru

Love to read and write about Software Engg, Agility, QA, Future of Humanity, AI, Books, Travel, Politics, Climate Change, Personal Finance, Writing & Life!