It doesn't matter what industry you're in or what stage of your career you're at (experienced or fresher) — job interviews are nerve racking every single time. The secret to keeping your anxiety at bay is crafting smart, thoughtful answers for the interview questions in advance.
Interview question “Tell me about yourself” or questions like it, are common at the beginning of interviews as they ease both you and the interviewer into the interview. It allows the interviewer to hear a short summary of your background and skills, giving them insight into what experience and qualifications you think are most relevant to the position you’re interviewing for.
Some examples of how this interview question can also be asked include “walk me through your resume,” “tell me something about yourself that’s not on your resume” and “describe yourself.”
In this article, we'll give you tips on how to answer the interview question “tell me about yourself”, what to avoid in your answer to the interview question, as well as detailed “tell me about yourself” sample answers.
The interview question “Tell me about yourself” sounds easy on paper, sure. After all, we talk about ourselves all the time.
But when you think about it, it’s really an open-ended question. Do you start with your background? Do you go through whatever’s on your resume? Or do you introduce yourself more as a person than a professional? Worried and unsure of how to answer? Relax, you’re not the only one! Most people struggle with this question. Here’s some good news, though: there’s a very easy way to answer the dreaded interview question.
When an interviewer asks “Tell me about yourself”, they really mean tell me about yourself as it’s relevant to the position you’re applying for in this company. They’re giving you an opportunity to articulate succinctly why you have the right qualifications, skills and/or experience for the job role you're interviewing for.
Take advantage of the opportunity! In order to do that, you’ll want to spend some time combing through the job description, researching the company, and figuring out how you can tell your story in a way that makes it crystal clear why you’re interested and what you bring to the table that aligns with the role and company.
A good answer to this interview question should be:
Tailored - Applying for an auditing job? The recruiter doesn’t care about your work experience as a software developer. Your answer should be tailored to the job you’re applying for.
Based on Experience & Achievements - Your answer should be super-specific. Don’t just say “so um, my name’s Sam and I’m a marketing executive.” Your answer should consist of background (what did you study?), top achievements (how do you stand out from the other candidates), and interests (why are you applying for this job?).
Structured - Your answer should follow a simple, easy-to-follow format. We’d recommend sticking to the tried-and-tested “Past-Present-Future” formula. Meaning, structure you answer as follows:
Keeping the tips above in mind, here are good examples of how to answer “tell me about yourself” in an interview:
“I’ve been working as an administrative assistant for three years. At my current job in the finance department of a midsize company, I handle scheduling, meeting and travel planning for four executives and 20 staff members. I also help prepare correspondence, presentations and reports.
“I’m known for being a detail-oriented, well-organized team player. I never miss deadlines, I’m a good communicator and I can juggle multiple tasks at once. In my performance reviews, my supervisor always notes that he appreciates my professionalism and enthusiasm for the job.
“With this experience under my belt, I’m looking for an opportunity to take the next step in my career. I’m hoping to do so in an organization like yours that works to improve the environment, which is something I’m passionate about.”
More sample answers:
My name is Jane Doe, I’m 22 years old and I recently graduated from University X with a B.A. in international business. While there, I learned a lot of theory in subjects like corporate communication, international economics, corporate governance, and more. I was also part of the student government, and maintained a GPA of 3.6.
I’ve worked hard in my education and now I’m ready to apply my knowledge into practice.
While I don’t have any real-life work experience, I’ve had a lot of exposure to the business environment. A lot of my courses involved working with real companies to solve real problems.
Now, I’m looking to leverage everything I’ve learned in uni and get some hands-on work experience.
Sure, I’d be glad to. I’m an tech-focused project manager for up to 8 years now.
I graduated from University X, where I made the Dean’s List, with a major in business administration and a minor in computer science. After that, I first got into the industry working as an administrative assistant at Company X. There I provided clerical support with interdepartmental communication, helped in managing schedules, and maintained the digital filing system.
After that, I was working as a project manager for Company Y that provided cloud computing solutions for about 6 years. There, I personally managed 5+ teams of software projects, and made sure everything went smoothly in terms of business goals, deadlines, budget, and more.
In my downtime, I enjoy reading about AI, tech, and robotics. Since you guys do all 3, I thought I’d apply.
Always remember, a great way to prepare for interview questions is to have a friend or family member pretend to be the interviewer who asks you questions while you practise your answers.