How to Answer the 'Tell Me About Yourself' Interview Question

By Will Capper

No matter how much preparation you put into a job interview, researching all the possible technical, professional or educational based questions you think you could be asked, it is often the simple ‘tell me about yourself’ question that can completely stump you for an answer.  Although in theory it is a simple question, likely chosen by the interviewer to try and put you at ease, if unprepared, knowing where to start with an answer to ‘tell me about yourself’ can feel like walking into a minefield.  

However, it is important to remember that a job interview is your chance to impress and being asked the question, ‘tell me about yourself’ is a pivotal moment that when answered well, can set the tone for the rest of your interview and leave a positive lasting impression.  Read on to discover the best way to answer ‘tell me about yourself’ 

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‘Tell me about yourself’

Interviewers will tend to ask the ‘tell me about yourself’ question to try and learn more about you not only as a potential employee but also trying to get to know you as a person.  It is an incredibly open question and it enables / challenges the interviewee to talk about almost any aspect of their personality.  Furthermore, it is incredibly unlikely, if not impossible, for the two different interviewees to give the same answer, so it also helps you to stand out from the competition.  Therefore, you should really welcome the opportunity to answer the ‘tell me about yourself’ question and with a little bit of preparation you can shine!

‘Elevator Pitch’ 

This is not the time to verbally provide the interviewer with your autobiography, instead you want to think of your answer in the same way that you would an ‘elevator pitch’.  It should take no more than 1 - 2 minutes to get across all the relevant information in a concise, informative and impressive manner.  In essence it should be a brief summary of your professional background, skills, and career goals and also give an insight into some of your life outside of work.

To start, try and summaries your most recent career history and perhaps why you are good at it / enjoy your role:

For example: "I'm a realtor with just over five years experience in selling a wide range of properties across Miami.  I have had an interest in real estate from a young age and as my career progressed I have developed a passion for delivering the best possible results for my clients.

Delve a little deeper

Next, provide an overview of your career experience to date, focusing on the most relevant experience you have gained for the role you are interviewing for.

For example:  ‘Since beginning my career, I have progressed from selling small condominiums to closing on prestige properties occupying prime real estate.  For the past 2 years I have begun to manage a team of junior real estate professionals and am now responsible for their training, goal setting and targets.

Speak to your Passion

Follow on from your describing your experience with another example of why you are so passionate about the position you are applying for.  

For example:  ‘Training and influencing junior realtors is an aspect of the role that I have grown into and really enjoy.  Being able to help mold the next generation of realtors is not only a privilege but also enables me to hone and refine my own ability to best service clients’

Highlight your Success

Now is the time to mention the achievements you have made across your career.  However it makes most sense to highlight those that are most recent or relevant to the role you are applying for.

For example: "I have been awarded the top billing junior realtor for the past 2 years and am also regularly interviewed or asked to comment on the Miami real estate market by the local press and news broadcasters.

Time to get personal

As you draw to the end of your ‘elevator pitch’ you can start to delve into your life outside work.  You want to get across your personal passions and interests but you also want to make sure you maintain professionalism.

For example: "Outside of work, I enjoy spending time hiking and mountain biking and try to enjoy as much of the outdoors as I can.  As a former college baseball player, I also enjoy being an assistant coach at my local little league, which aligns with my belief in giving back and making a positive impact on the community."

To conclude, the ‘tell me about yourself" is your opportunity to make a strong first impression during a job interview. Craft a compelling, concise, and tailored response that showcases your skills, experiences, and enthusiasm for the role and company. Practice and polish your answer to ensure you deliver it confidently, setting a positive tone for the rest of the interview. Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to answering this question, so above all, enjoy the opportunity to talk about you!