This is undoubtedly the most dreaded interview question for most of us.
But also the most common opening question of all interviews.
What makes it particularly difficult to answer is its open nature. While an open question provides you a lot of ground to project yourself, most candidates waste this beautiful opportunity by blabbering around very generic information which the interviewers already know.
Why this question ?
This question is not simply an icebreaker. The interviewer wants to understand more about who you are and why you would be a good fit for the role.
This question gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your communication and storytelling skills, ability to structure thoughts, as well as provide the interviewer with a better understanding of what you are as a person and how your aspirations and personal or professional experiences align with the job requirements.
Tips to answer “Tell me about Yourself”
Start with a strong introduction
Begin with a strong introduction that immediately grabs the interviewer’s attention. Avoid using clichés and focus on what makes you unique and sets you apart from other candidates.
Keep it relevant
Your answer should be relevant to the role you’re applying for. Highlight any skills or experience that are relevant to the role, as well as any unique attributes or qualities that you can bring to the job. Avoid unnecessary details.
Be honest and enthusiastic
Be honest about yourself and your experiences, but make sure to be enthusiastic about them. Show the interviewer that you’re passionate about the role and that you’re the perfect candidate for the job.
Tell me about yourself Examples – Sample Answer
To answer this question the right way, first understand the very essence of the question. The interviewers are asking this question in the interview because they want to know more about you as an individual.
So, focus on what defines you as a person, and how that would be valuable to the company. Start by talking about your value systems and beliefs. What drives you? What motivates you? What do you find important in life? This could be anything from a love of learning and adventure, to a passion for problem-solving and helping people.
Once you’ve established your values and beliefs, explain how these show up in your work. Give examples of how you’ve used your skills and qualities to make a difference. Have you helped to solve a problem? Made a positive impact on a team? Shown leadership? These are all things that employers like to hear.
For example, you might say:
‘I’m a problem solver by nature, and I’m passionate about finding solutions to complex challenges. In all my past experiences with different organisations, I have seen this one quality strongly helping me. I recently implemented a new system for our team that improved efficiency by 25%. It was a difficult project, but I was able to break it down into manageable pieces and lead the team to success.’
Now you can move on to your life history, while sticking to the central theme that you started with. For example,
‘This problem solving ability probably comes to me from my upbringing into a family of academics. Both my parents were researchers at XYZ university, and I have grown up listening to discussions – at times, even asked to take reasoned positions in the debates.
This has also grown my communication and interpersonal skills, which have helped me a lot in my past stints. The ability to listen, analyse, and react while balancing the group opinions has helped me grow fast in my corporate career.
As my resume states, I have been able to deliver exceptional results in each of the five years of my career. And have received two promotions in the duration. This is a combined effect of my abilities to solve complex problems and to get the team united on the tasks.
(Pause and wait for any questions that the interviewers may have.)
On the personal front, I have a deep respect for nature and believe that we have a duty to give back whenever we can. I am a part of many organizations that promote sustainable development activities.
And so on. You state an idea that opens up a facet of your identity, give an example or proof if needed. Pause, answer if any questions are there, and proceed.
Tell me about yourself for freshers
Even if you are a fresher, you can open your answer with your strongest qualities.
I’m a highly organized and hardworking person who is always striving to stay up to date on the latest industry trends and best practices. I enjoy working independently as well as in teams and have a strong ability to think critically and solve problems. I am a firm believer in lifelong learning and have a passion for developing my skills, knowledge, and abilities.
That is why, throughout my academic career, I have developed a wide range of skills, ranging from writing and public speaking to data analysis and problem-solving. I have also had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through internships and part-time jobs.
I am particularly interested in [Field], and I am eager to use my skills to help organizations succeed in this competitive industry. I strive to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the field and am always open to learning more.
What to include in the “Tell me about Yourself” interview question
You can include
- Your personal or professional values and beliefs, and the reason you carry them
- Your prominent strengths and backdrop of how you acquired them
- Your dreams and ambitions, and how you are moving towards them
- Your major career choices, and the reason you made them
- Any major thought frameworks you operate with
- Interesting anecdotes from your experience that reaffirm your beliefs
There can be many ways this answer can be attempted, and the one shown above is just one method. However, you must stick to the principles and avoid the pitfalls that we discussed.
Above all, frame it like an interesting story that the audience would love to listen to without getting bored.
Versions of “Tell me about yourself”
Some tweaked versions of this question are:
- What’s your story ? ( Same as ‘Tell me about yourself’)
- Walk me through your resume / professional career ? (Answer with more focus on your professional journey and more focus on your career choices)
This brief on “Tell me about yourself” is based on my upcoming book on nailing toughest interviews.
I hope this helped you. Let me know in comments.