Answering “Tell Me About Yourself” in Five Easy Steps
If there is one area of an interview that you should ace, it’s the opening question. Interviewers tend to reserve time at the beginning of the interview to get to know the candidate by asking them to describe themselves. Responding to the “tell me about yourself” portion of the interview should be easy, right? After all, if there is one topic that we are all experts on, it’s ourselves. Unfortunately, this open-ended question can be problematic without preparation and may result in a blank stare, babbling about something completely unrelated (like your infatuation with table tennis), or a verbalized bullet point version of your resume.
Before your next interview, follow these five steps to help you quickly perfect your response to the inevitable “tell me about yourself”.
Step 1: Introduce Yourself
This is your opportunity to set the tone for the interview and describe why you are the right person for the job (without actually saying it). You will want to introduce yourself as a qualified candidate by focusing on your professional identity rather than personal details. For example, “Well, I am a happily married mom of five who recently relocated from Minnesota” is too personal and doesn’t give the interviewer an idea of who you are professionally. A more appropriate response would be, “I am an administrative assistant who has been working at an accounting firm for the past five years. It was there that I found my passion for collaborating with fellow staff and clients to ensure that everyone has their needs met.”
Step 2: Highlight Relevant Experience
After giving a brief introduction to who you are, highlight relevant experience that will lend itself to the position that you are applying for. It’s a good idea to reference the job description and see if any of your experience aligns with what they are looking for in a candidate. Rather than revisiting every job that you have held since you worked at Burger King in high school, try talking about what you have learned and the experience that you have had in your most recent role. For example: “In my role as an administrative assistant at _____, I gained meaningful experience in organization, coordination and communication in an office setting. In fact, I implemented a new system that increased productivity office wide.”
Step 3: Explain Why You are There
Complete your response by mentioning why you are sitting in front of them today. Leave out your current company’s shortcomings, or why you were fired from your last job. Instead, touch on the reasons that you are ready to move on in your career, and why you applied for a position at their company.
Step 4: Put it Together
Once you have figured out what you are going to say in the first three steps, it’s time to put it all together to form a complete answer.
“I am an administrative assistant who has been working at an accounting firm for the past five years. It was there that I realized my passion for collaborating with fellow staff and clients to ensure that everyone has their needs met. It was through that collaboration that I was able to implement a system that increased productivity office wide. Throughout my career, I have gained experience in organization, coordination and communication in fast paced environments. I am currently looking for an opportunity to expand my skills, so when I saw that your company was hiring I couldn’t pass up the chance to apply.”
Step 5: Practice
Luckily, your response to their inquiry about who you are does not need to be lengthy or long-winded. However, there should be thought, preparation and practice behind your words. Make sure to practice your response several times before your interview so that you can approach it with confidence and it sounds conversational.