3 ways to answer 'Tell me about yourself'

Jan 9, 2017 | Article

Here's how you can answer when the interviewer says, "Tell me about yourself."

During any interview, you're almost always asked something along the lines of, "So, tell me about yourself." It sounds simple enough, but it can actually be one of the harder interview questions to answer. There are many ways to interpret the inquiry, and you don't want to give an answer that will confuse the interviewer. After all, it could simply be a polite way to start the conversation, or it could be an invitation to start listing your career accomplishments.

Don't get stuck on this question during your next interview. Consider one of these options the next time you're asked to tell a little bit about yourself:

1. Talk about value you can add to the company

One way to answer this question is to use your previous job experience to explain what kind of value you can bring to the company. The Interview Guys suggested that, in most cases, employers ask this question because they want to find out what you deem important. By answering with how you can improve the company, you're showing them you're already thinking about how you can solve problems for the business.

"Make sure to keep everything positive and geared toward your audience," says Vanessa Keenan, Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Philadelphia. "Do some research about the company and their culture beforehand to know what is important to them in an employee and figure out how you would best fit in. Only use what is truly a match between yourself and the company. For example – if the potential employer prides itself on a team-oriented environment, be sure to highlight any experience you've had working on team projects and communicating across organizational hierarchies."

"Use this open invitation to pivot the conversation."

2. Flip the script

Another way to answer this question is to do so briefly, then take control of the conversation. The reason you would want to do so is because having a real conversation is much more stimulating that simply answering questions. HR expert Liz Ryan, writing in Forbes Magazine, recommended answering the question with a simple sentence or two about your career history and goals, then quickly pivoting the conversation by asking a question regarding the company's most pressing challenges. Much like the first option, this also shows you're thinking about how to help the company grow and become more productive.

3. The present-past-future formula

This option lets you answer succinctly and efficiently so you can move on to more important questions. Here's how The Muse suggested you can use this formula: Start by giving a brief description of your current situation, then explain how you got there, using examples of your previous work. Finally, talk a bit about where you want to go next and how you believe the company will help you achieve your personal goals. It's short, sweet and straight to the point. "It is always best to focus on the question and keep your answer to a few points," suggests Ms. Keenan. "Do not start to go through every job you have ever had or your entire personal life." Chuck Martino, Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Fort Lauderdale, adds: "When asked an open-ended question like 'tell me about yourself', it makes sense to use this method for your answer, It will open a discussion on how your goals align with the company's, and how each side can benefit."

"Tell me about yourself" is a routine part of most interviews, but you can still make your answer interesting. Try out one of these options during your next interview.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

Related Resources