When you attend an interview, you must have noted that the interview always starts with, “Tell me about yourself. It is often the first thing that an interviewer asks. Whether you are attending a telephonic or a virtual interview, speaking to your future boss, or having your final round of interview with your CEO, this is probably the first question that you have to answer. No idea what to say? Here are a few tips on how to answer tell me about yourself.”
Though it is one of the common questions asked in an interview, “it almost always defeats them.” It might seem to be an easy win- after all, all of us know about ourselves, but responding to this invitation to tell about you in a job interview can be sometimes complicated and stressful. It seems to be challenging as it is open-minded and broad. Most of the candidates in this scenario think, mmmm, what does the interviewer want to know? How should I tell my entire life story? Luckily, there are plenty of ways that will help you to know how to answer tell me about yourself during an interview.
Few Tips on How to Answer Tell Me About Yourself in An Interview
Understand why interviewers ask this question
As with any interview question, the most important thing required for giving an impressive answer is first understanding why the interviewer is asking the question. It allows them to ease into the actual interviewing. Most often when the conversation starts it’s a lot of small talks and it is a way to move into it, mainly for hiring managers or less seasoned recruiters. It is a great starting point that can help inform the direction of an interview. Based on how to answer tell me about yourself in an interview it is going to help the interviewer figure out his or her next question. In simple language, your answer will start a chain effect with plenty of follow-up questions.
Apart from being a transition and icebreaker, the question also helps the hiring managers and recruiters accomplish what is often one of their main objectives in the hiring process: to know you well.
If you answer about yourself well, the interviewers will start to find out why you are best for this position, in terms of soft skills and experience. It is one of the best opportunities to show that you can communicate in a clear and effective way. It is the best opportunity to connect with and reach other people and present yourself in the best professional manner.
There are many instances when you will hear these words, “Tell me about something about yourself.”However, interviewers might have their own variants of the prompt that are asking almost the same thing including:
- I have my resume but tell me about yourself
- Walk me through your skills and experiences
- I would like to hear about your journey
- Explain more about your background
A Simple Formula for Answering “Tell Me About Yourself” is to structure your response: Present, Past, and Future.
Whatever order you chose, ensure you ultimately relate it to the company and job. One of the best ways to end it is to give a transformation of this is why I am here today. You want to be completely confident your interviewer is left with the impression that it “makes sense that you are talking to me about this position or job.”
Okay, so you have an interview coming up and you are confident that is going to start with “tell me about yourself.” Here is a guide on what you need to do to nail your reply.
Customize your answer to the position and company
When the interviewer asks to tell me about yourself, they want you to tell about yourself as it is relevant to the position for which you are applying. It is an opportunity to explain why you think you have the right qualifications. So, you must take advantage of this opportunity! For doing that, you have to spend some time reading the job description, researching the company, and finding out ways on how you can narrate your story in a way that makes it clear why you are interested in this job. In fact, this is the right chance to be direct and to share your intention. However, your intention needs to fulfill its purposes.
When you are in the midst of a job search finding a specific kind of role, you might have a basic template that you use for every interview, but ensure to tweak it in such a manner that it fits the company. It is a chance to show the interviewer right away that you get it. For example, if they discuss culture, include that in your answer. Or if the company emphasizes on something else, try to include that. In some cases, using individual keywords could be helpful. For instance, try to find out is the company a startup, a tech company, a publisher, or an online retailer?
Keep things professional
In keeping with the idea that this question comes with an invisible addendum- “as it is connected to this role and company”- you are best to keep your answers professional. In simple words, this is not the right time to discuss your hobbies and family, unless you know something specific about the organization that would lead you to assume otherwise.
Answer passionately and confidently
You must keep your reply professional. But that should not stop you from telling why you are passionate about your work. If candidates feel comfortable telling their story from a passionate perspective, it helps in engaging the interviewer and set them apart. No need to go into a large amount of detail, but if your objective is to stand out among the other candidates, then answering with some passion can help you. People want to talk to humans, not robots. The interviewers like to hear, ” I wanted to build a career in marketing, or I always loved writing.”
Be short and do not recite your entire resume
Do not waste your time repeating things already mentioned in your resume. There are many who answer like they are giving a commentary on their resume. This will bore the interviewer. There is no specific length for answering this or any interview question. However, some recruiters and coaches suggest keeping the answers short. Maybe up to 30 seconds or less, while some say to keep it for a minute or two. Generally, people tend to start losing interest after speaking for a continuous 1.5 to 2.5 minutes.
If you were laid off or fired from your previous job, this is not the best moment to discuss it. There is a perfect place and time for everything. To build a great impression professionally, give the interviewer a peep into your things, but don’t provide them everything. The conversations are not fit for that. As the interview continues, things get comfortable. So, you must wait until you get a specific question. Until and unless you are asked about the reason behind your change in job, don’t tell anything. You must have heard the advice about not putting down your previous company. That is applicable here also. If you tell an interviewer how awful your boss is, then that is a big negative thing.
These are the few things that you need to keep in mind if you don’t know how to answer tell me about yourself in an interview.