The “Tell me about yourself” interview question — it seems simple enough, yet you always have this nagging, unsettling feeling that your answer isn’t really what the hiring manager wants to hear.

The question is so broad and open-ended that it’s common to ask if there is a right or wrong answer. It’s one of the most common interview questions, yet paradoxically the most challenging. Plus, it is usually asked in the beginning, setting the tone for the rest of your interview. In short, you have to nail this to make the best impression.

Does the interviewer want to hear the entirety of your career story? Shall I throw in some personal details along the way? How many details? Where do you begin? It throws you for a real loop.

So how do you answer this question? This question can take various forms: “How would you describe yourself?” or “Tell me something about you that’s not on your resume?” 

Don’t fret; it’s not as complicated as you think. Instead, assume that your interviewer is giving you a wide berth on how to answer this seemingly enigmatic question. Yes, this is a good thing!


Why is the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question, so popular?

This introductory question is more than just engaging you in small talk or a softball to transition the conversation to a more serious set of questions. One of the crucial goals that a hiring manager or interviewer has in the hiring process is to sift through the best possible candidates. This question could help them to understand who you are off paper, opposite to the resume in many ways.

The interviewer does not want to know every detail about you in this one question. They will want you to drill down on the specifics as you go. Knowing how to answer the “Tell me about yourself” interview question will demonstrate that you can effectively and professionally communicate, as well as connect with other people. It will give you an opportunity to showcase your expertise and experience.

Simply put, your interviewer wants to get to know you and what you can offer as value.


An Effective Method for Answering “Tell Me About Yourself”

This employment interview question has a way of making job applicants fumble, providing very personal and often vague answers. This is not one of those questions where you can just, you know, wing it. If you do not structure your responses well, you could leave the impression that you are:

  • Under-qualified
  • Unprepared
  • Arrogant
  • Too simplistic
  • Improvising

You will not really want the hiring manager to have this perception. To keep you on track, it always helps to have professional coaching, for you to efficiently expound your strengths and competencies.

Here’s a quick 3-step fix on how to answer the “Tell me about yourself” interview question.

  1. What is in-progress: Summarize what your current position is, your responsibilities, and a little bit about your most recent achievements.
  2. What has happened: Narrate how you got to your present role or mention how you developed your skills and expertise that’s pertinent to the job you’re applying for.
  3. What you are anticipating: Seamlessly pivot on how you can bring your expertise to the job and the company, and why you’d make a good fit.

You have probably heard of an elevator speech. If not it’s known as a quick dive into a topic (yourself in this case) that could be fully explained in the time it takes to ride an elevator to your desired floor. Such a speech is so well practiced, you could pull it out whenever and wherever you are.

Practice makes perfect with answering any type of question but preparing yourself to answer “tell me about yourself” with the formula above can get you there much faster. You and should not leave it up to guesswork. Always come prepared.

 If you need help in boosting your chances of getting that plum position, polishing your resume, or brushing up on your interview skills, The Bauke Group is your partner to success.