Job interviews are terrifying. It’s so difficult to know what to say in response to the ubiquitous question, “tell me about yourself.”
You don’t want your interviewers to think you’re not confident or that you have no idea what you’re doing. But how can you possibly fill a blank page with something interesting?
Do you want to quit your current job? This blog post will teach you to tell a story about yourself and show off your strengths without sounding like a bragging jerk.
What do I have to do before a job interview?
Examine the job description closely to see if you can improve upon the requirements. For example, if the job description lists five years of experience in graphic design when you only have two, choose specific examples in your career history that demonstrate your skill.
If possible, talk directly to current employees to gain insight into company culture and expectations.
Make sure you’re qualified for this opportunity by reading through the list of requirements again.
Why do employers ask you to tell me about yourself?
The hiring process is all about making the right hiring decision, so employers are always looking for ways to make sure they get the best job candidate.
They want to know if you’re the person who will continue adding value after your first few weeks. The interviewer doesn’t care how clever or skilled you are at answering questions on a sheet of paper. For the interviewer, it’s much more essential to find out how you perform in a real-life situation.
Hiring managers want to know if the candidate is a good fit for their company and team values and work ethic. So what can you tell about a person from written responses? Not too much, which is why employers always ask questions.
A hiring manager asks the “tell me about yourself” question for a couple of reasons. First, they want to know what you can bring to their company. Second, they want your skills and strengths to line up with the position they’re hiring for.
Second, employers ask this question because it’s a way for them to see how articulate and confident you are.
One of the most complex parts of job interviews is that you’re on stage, with all eyes on you. So naturally, the interviewer wants to see how well you handle yourself when faced with a situation like this.
The most important part is not sounding arrogant or entitled! You don’t want to come off as bragging about your skills and abilities.
Remember that employers want to hire people who can do the job and get along with others, so keep it humble and light.
How do I answer “Tell me about yourself”?
This question can be a difficult question to answer. But you can follow some easy guidelines to make sure you ace your next job interview.
First, give them an overview of your story. Where did you grow up? What were your favorite hobbies as a kid? Who is your family? Any unique facts about yourself (sports you played, internships, unique jobs you had)?
Explain some of the things that made you who you are today. For example, what led you to your major? What did your family do for a living? How have the decisions in your past affected where your life is now?
In other words, talk about anything that makes your story unique or exciting, but don’t brag too much.
How do I not answer “Tell me about myself”?
Job seekers often make several mistakes when answering this question. Make sure you avoid these common pitfalls:
You should avoid bragging about your skills and abilities at all costs. Bragging is the single most significant problem people run into when trying to answer this question.
Avoid talking about your skills (like you’re some superhero) or accomplishments (how many units you’ve sold, how much money you’ve saved the company).
Instead, it’s better to talk more about yourself as a person.
It’s also important to avoid talking too much about your personal life or interests. While you want to be interesting, you don’t want them to think that this interview is all about you (hehe).
Instead, focus on making it more about the company and how your skills fit into the job.
A simple formula for answering “Tell me about yourself.”
The first interview question that hiring managers will ask you in a job interview is “tell me about yourself.” When answering this question, it’s essential to be concise. Here is how you have to answer:
Plan your answer.
Planning your answer implies that you should consider what you want to say before you begin speaking. You want to have some structure.
For example, you might start by explaining your childhood, then move on to your education and finally describe what you do now and why it matters or how it will help the company.
Do this: “I was raised in California and lived there for most of my life. I like playing soccer and going to the beach in my free time. I went to college at Ohio State and studied business.”
Don’t do this: “I was raised in California. The weather is nice there all year round, it never rains! It’s a fun place for teenagers because there are always cool things to do at night. In my free time, I like to play soccer with my friends and go surfing. I went to Ohio State because the business program there is excellent.”
Script your answer
You shouldn’t memorize your answers, but you should write down the main points you want to make and practice them until they feel natural to you.
Making it more of a story will help you get more comfortable with the idea of talking about yourself in front of other people. First, you’ll get used to it, and then it will feel more natural.
Focus on the good
Try to make yourself look as confident and capable as possible. It would be best to stay away from any negative topics like why you left your last job, etc.
Also, avoid using too many “I” statements (“I think,” “I feel,” etc.), which makes it seem like the focus is on you rather than the company.
It would be best to try to practice in front of a mirror and make sure you look presentable. Finally, get comfortable with the idea of talking about yourself for this length of time.
Know your audience
It would be best if you also considered who the interviewer is and how formal they are. When talking about your hobbies and interests, you want to make sure it sounds like something they would enjoy (not everyone likes surfing and playing soccer).
Be concise when answering (2 minutes or less!)
You want to be as concise as possible when answering this question, and you don’t need to tell your entire life story. You shouldn’t ramble on personal details, but you also shouldn’t just give one-word answers, or it will seem like you don’t have much to talk about.
Highlight Impressive Experience and Achievements
You should also mention any impressive experiences or achievements you have, but it’s essential not to be too boastful. You want them to walk away thinking, “this person is talented and driven” instead of, “this person thinks they are magic.”
If you answer this question well, the interviewer will have a good idea of who you are as both a person and a worker. In addition, showing your experience and skills will help you have a better overall interview.
Keep it positive
To keep in mind, you should always try to be optimistic about your experience and skills. So, for example, you can say “I have a lot of energy” instead of “I am energetic.”
Keep it professional
A good rule of thumb is to try and keep it professional. For example, please stay away from discussing your relationship with the people at your last job (unless they asked).
You want them to think of you as a new and improved version of yourself, not like someone else who they don’t even know.
Be honest about what you can do but also impressive
If you don’t have specific skills or experience, you say what you are currently doing to improve yourself in that area.
For example, if you are looking for a job as an accountant but don’t have any experience in bookkeeping, you can say, “I’ve been taking online courses in bookkeeping.” Or, if you don’t have any customer service experience, you can say, “I’m currently taking a customer service course that I found online.”
Honesty shows that you are doing what you can to improve yourself, and it also makes it clear that this next job will be the perfect fit for you.
Inject some passion into your answer (if you feel comfortable)
Don’t say, “I’m a passionate person,” but instead tell them about something you are genuinely passionate about. It should be something unique to you, and it should inspire passion in the interviewer as well.
For example, if you love animals and want to work at an animal shelter, you can say, “As a kid, I always wanted to work with animals. After volunteering at an animal shelter for three years, I realized this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
This answer shows passion, and it can help them picture you in that role.
Be succinct (and don’t recite your words)
You don’t want to say, “My name is Tim, and I am originally from New Jersey. I moved here two years ago to go to college.”
Instead, say something like, “I’m Tim. I grew up in New York before moving out here for school.”
This answer not only sounds more professional, but you also sound more confident.
This question will come up in just about any job interview. So, therefore, it would be best to plan out what you are going to say ahead of time so it comes across as natural and well thought out.
When answering this question, please give them the information they can use while also showcasing who you are as a person.
An excellent way to do this is to find a way to relate your experience or current skill set to the job you are applying for.
Keep your answer work-related
Keep your answer work-related but make sure to inject some personality into it.
It’s great if you are passionate about the job you are applying for, but don’t be too overly dramatic or exaggerated either.
You should focus on what the job will allow you to do rather than what your life would be like if they hire you.
That is something that might come up during an interview. In addition, your interviewer will likely want to know why you are interested in the job and if it’s different than your last or current one.
An example of this would be someone currently unemployed but wants to work as a customer service representative for XYZ Company.
They could answer this question by saying, “I’m currently looking for a job in customer service because that’s something I am passionate about. I love helping people, and it comes naturally to me. If I can’t use my natural talents to help others, then I don’t know what else to do with myself.”
This answer tells the interviewer why they are interested in this particular job, but it also shows them that they are passionate and that it comes naturally to them.
Conclude by explaining your current situation
The best way to end your answer is by telling them what you are currently doing.
For example, if you are currently working as a waitress at ABC Company, you can say, “Right now, I’m working as a waitress, but I would love to move up in the company.
This job sounds like it has excellent upward mobility, so this would be the perfect opportunity for me to explore.”
This answer tells the interviewer what you are currently doing, but it also shows why this job interests you. It’s not just about the money; it’s about improving your current situation so you can move on.
Tell me about yourself,” Sample answers.
“My name is Linda, and I grew up in Chicago. After graduating college, I moved out here to pursue a career in finance. My passion for this industry has only grown over the years, and I am excited about this opportunity.”
“[My name is David and] I am originally from New York City. [I was born on a small farm in upstate New York, which has always been a huge part of who I am.] I moved out here two years ago for school and loved it. There is so much to do and see that I never get bored.”
“My name is Mark. I grew up on the East Coast but have lived out here for the last six years. I moved out here after college to pursue my dream of becoming an actor.
I have been auditioning ever since, but unfortunately, I haven’t gotten very far, so this is why I started looking for other jobs. This opportunity seems like it will be a great fit because the job description is what I’ve been doing, so I don’t have to learn anything new.”
“My name is Nora. I’m originally from Seattle but moved out here last year. It was tough leaving my family and friends, but I knew it would be the best decision.
I wanted to get a job as soon as possible, so I started working as a waitress rather than going back to school. That’s how I’ve been supporting myself for the last year, but now that I see this opportunity, it makes me excited to be able to go back and pursue my degree finally.”
“My name is Sarah, and I grew up in San Diego. After college, I decided to move out here because I wanted to be closer to the beach. I’ve been living here for over a year now and love it.
I’m looking for jobs in customer service because that’s what I am passionate about. I love helping people, and it comes naturally to me. If I can’t use my natural talents to help others, then I don’t know what else to do with myself.”
“My name is John, I grew up in the Midwest, and I’ve lived out here for about ten years.
I moved out here to get my Master’s degree in English literature but found that the academic environment didn’t suit me. Instead, I wanted to work as an administrative assistant because I like the atmosphere of interacting with people. This job seems like it would fit me perfectly.”
Conclusion paragraph: In this post, we’ve provided a few tips for answering the “Tell me about yourself” question in an interview.
Please let us know if you have any other questions or comments on what to say during your following job interview. We’d love to help!
Medically reviewed and approved by Clinical Psychologist and President of PsicoLuz Integral Psychology Luzmery Romero.