It’s often the first question you’ll face in an interview. Despite knowing this, many candidates head into a job interview without a clue as to their answer. Some version of this question is almost a certainty in any interview. It’s often one of the first questions you will be asked so it’s a perfect opportunity to make a positive first impression.
Step 1: Review the job description
What experience and credentials are needed? What job skills are listed? Check out the company website and learn as much as you can about the company mission and goals.
Step 2: Choose the Right Starting Point for Your Story (IMPORTANT)
Your goal when answering, “tell me about yourself,” is to give a brief, concise walkthrough of your career story that will show off relevant pieces of experience. If you’re a recent graduate: Start with the fact that you just graduated, and explain why you chose this career path or field of area of study.
Step 3: Match your best qualifications to the job description and company mission
What skills do you have that are mentioned in the job description? How do your goals align with the company mission? Focus on your top three qualifications and accomplishments that are relevant to the job. Ask yourself “If I could only share 3 things about myself that would show them I’m a good fit for this job, what would I want to tell them?”
Step 4: Organize your answer with a really simple, but powerful, formula: Present – Past – Future
So, first, start with the present – where you are right now. Then, talk a little about the past and your previous experience and skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Finally, finish with the future – why you are excited about using your specific skills and experience in this new position.
Step 5: Keep Your Answer Work-Related
When employers ask, “tell me about yourself,” in an interview, they usually want to hear about you as a professional. So the safest approach is to keep your answer work-related and share your career story, rather than personal details.
Step 6: Be Concise When Answering (2 Minutes or Less!)
Write it out and time yourself. Practice it so you’re comfortable with it – but don’t make it sound memorized.