Best Answer for “Tell Me About Yourself” in a Job Interview (Answer Examples Included!)

Mar 16, 2023
How to answer the tell me about yourself question

“So, tell me about yourself!” Ugh, surely we could skip this one. I mean, you’ve got my resume in front of you - it’s all right there! Sorry, but no, badass. Trust me, you do NOT want to skip this question.

According to Hermann Ebbenhaus (a very old German guy who pioneered the memory research field in psychology), we tend to remember the beginning and end of an event most, a phenomenon called ✨ the serial positioning effect ✨ For example, if someone reads out their phone number to you, you’re more likely to recall the start and the end of the number, but least likely to remember the numbers in the middle.

Why is this old German guy relevant to my job interview, Rosie? I’m glad you asked. Since we know your interviewer is likely to remember the start and end of your interview, that all-important “tell me about yourself” at the beginning of your interview is crucial to nail. Even if you mess up some other questions, having a powerful first impression can save your performance.

Well, then how on earth should I answer the “tell me about yourself” interview question then? Another excellent question, badass. I have the perfect framework you can use to give a killer answer in your interview and get those interviewers begging you for round two ✌️

How to answer “tell me about yourself” in a job interview

Let’s set you up for success, badass. I have a simple framework so you can structure your answer to this common interview question easily and make an impact. I’ll even hit you with some examples of how it looks in action to make sure you nail it. First, I’m going to drop three quick rules of thumb to be aware of before we dive into how to wow your interviewer, step by step.

“Tell me about yourself” answer rule of thumb #1: Length

You should aim to answer this question in 2-3 minutes. Don’t worry, I’ll be dropping exactly how to fill out those minutes efficiently and effectively. If there is more your interviewer wants to know about you, they’ll ask you more questions and probe you for answers. Don’t sweat it!

“Tell me about yourself” answer rule of thumb #2: Don’t get personal

Your interviewer does not want to hear about your partner, your hobbies, or your cat (I, for one, would like to hear about your cat, though 🐈‍⬛) - leave those chats for after you’ve landed the role. There is a time and a place for personal activities and that place is if those activities are aligned with what you will be doing in the role. 

There is one exception to this rule, and that is if you’re interviewing with a super small company, something family owned and operated, where they value how close everyone is. In this case, you’re welcome to drop in a short personal note at the end about what you get up to on the weekends.

“Tell me about yourself” answer rule of thumb #3: Be careful about the language you use

We’re going to drop some juicy achievements in our response, but you want to be careful about sounding like you’re bragging. This is why you want to use gratitude-based language. This sounds like: “I got to”, “I had the privilege to” or “I had the opportunity to”. Reframe your wins as something you’re grateful to have been a part of. It also primes the interviewer to believe you are thankful for the opportunities that they have - which I know you are!

All right, let’s dive into the exact steps you need to answer this interview question powerfully.

1. Introduce yourself to the interviewer with “your why”

The start of your answer should be anchored into your career purpose. I like to call this “your why”. What kind of impact are you looking to make through your work? What strengths are you capitalising on? 

The beginning of this sentence is going to sound something like “I have dedicated my entire career to date to…” or “I’ve built my career around my strengths in…” - have a think about what this is for you, here’s an example of what this sounds like to kick off your brainstorming session:

“I’m on a mission to improve employee engagement, and transform cultures through employee-centric programs, events, and well-being initiatives.”

💣 BOOM! Just like that, you’ve dropped an impactful purpose statement that gives them a glimpse into why you do what you do. Being able to show your interviewer that your career purpose aligns with their company mission and what they’re looking for you to do in this role is another point in the win column for you in the interviewer’s books.

2. Tell your interviewer about your current role

Next, let’s give them a look into what work you’re doing now. This is a great time to drop in some career highlights or impressive achievements you have. Think of how you might quantify your experience - Recruiters LOVE numbers. Here’s an example:

“I’ve spent the past year as the Global Head of Placements for The Intern Space, where I get to manage on-site and remote teams of 20 people across 8 countries and have worked hard alongside all of them to improve global placement performance by 146%.”

Check out those numbers! My mouth is watering just looking at them 🤤. Remember to anchor into that gratitude-based language we talked about earlier when dropping these huge wins on the Recruiter.

3. Take the interviewer through your career history

Now, let’s hop in the time machine and cover the past. Give the interviewer a taster of your career history and how you came to where you are today. If you’re struggling to put a number on your achievements - no worries. I’ve got the perfect example of this with no numbers:

“Before that, I was rising through the ranks at The Intern Space, which was my first role upon graduating with my Bachelor of Marketing at the University of Wisconsin. I moved up so fast that I became the youngest Global Head in the company’s history, and I credit this to them giving me the scope to implement several employee engagement initiatives from the ground up, including a Health Awareness Forum, a well-being Slack community, a 360° feedback system, Employee Net Promoter Score surveys, exercise classes, and more.”

Damn! What a shiny reflection of the past we have! We’ve covered your present and past - I think you can guess what’s coming next…

4. Give the interviewer a look into your career vision for the future

Strap in, we’re back in the time machine and flying into the future. A key part of this section is that your future should be, of course, aligned with the role you’re applying for. If not, why are you applying for it in the first place? But that’s a whole different blog… 

Show the interviewer how you’re looking to level up in your new role and anchor into some features of the role they’re hiring for (hint: check the job ad for wording examples to use). Of course, I’m not without an example of this:

“Going forward, I am seeking a scale-up culture, in which I can apply my skills, experience, and passion to drive culture change and employee engagement through employee-centric initiatives, which is exactly why I’ve applied for your role here as the Head of Employee Well-being.”

I don’t know about you, badass, but your future is starting to look so bright that I may need sunglasses and SPF 😎. Remember, if you’re looking for a cheat code on what to include here, include some keywords from the job advertisement!

But Rosie, how do I answer the “tell me about yourself” interview question with no experience?

You are full of very on-topic questions, badass, I’m impressed. If you’re fresh out of college or only have very little work experience, you can still use the above framework to tell the interviewer all about you. Here are some prompts to get you thinking about what you can include:

  • Are there any projects you worked on at University that you’re proud of?
  • Do any of your skills gained from hobbies align with the skills needed for this role?
  • Have you had any side hustles and what have they taught you?
  • Have you completed any extra courses or certifications and what were the highlights?

You always have value, even when you have little to no job experience. Jobs don’t need to be the main source of your star quality - you’re a whole human with tonnes of life experience to draw from! You just need to grab your shovel and do a bit of digging to find that interview answer gold 🏆

Even if you’re still struggling to find any gems to drop from your experience, hone in on your vision - having a clear view of where you’re going and the impact you want to make is incredibly powerful in an interview.

Just like that, you’re ready to nail the “tell me about yourself” question in your next job interview! You have all the tools you need to make your impression on your interviewer and land the freaking job! Don’t forget to drop me a DM over on Instagram so we can celebrate together 🥳

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