How to Answer The “Tell Me About Yourself” Question In An Interview (with examples).

“Tell me about yourself” is one of the common interview questions. It is often asked at the beginning of the interview. However, even though it is a common interview question, most job seekers do not know how to answer it. In this article, we will share with you tips on how to answer the “tell me about yourself” question in an interview.

Whether it is an in-person interview or a virtual interview, this question pops up a lot. And it comes in diverse forms. For instance, an interviewer can ask you to walk them through your resume or describe yourself. 

Why does the interviewer ask the “tell me about yourself” question?

Before we go into how to answer the “tell me about yourself” question, you should know that interviewers ask this question for many reasons. Here are some of the reasons why they ask this question;

  • One of the reasons why interviewers ask the “tell me about yourself” question is so that they can ease you into the interview. Most times, job seekers are nervous about the interview process. And starting with this question helps both the interviewer and interviewee deal with nervousness.
  • Another reason for this question is that it helps the interviewer know the direction of the interview. For instance, your answer will determine the next question the interviewer will ask.
  • It also enables the interviewer to get to know you more beyond your cv or resume. They will know more about your personality and why you fit the role.

Related: How to answer the “why you left your last job” question.

The formula for answering the question

When you are answering this question, you should be clear and concise. To ensure that you are not rambling, there are two formulas you should follow;

  • Past, Present, and Future

With this formula, you start answering the question with your experience related to the job. Then you can talk about your current job and finish with what you are looking to do next.

  • Present, Past, and Future

Here, you start with your current experience and move to the past experience. And end with what you are looking to do next.

You can use any of these formulas when you are answering the question. Just know that you have to end your answer with what you are looking for and why you applied to the company.

How to answer the “tell me about yourself” question in an interview.

Now let us talk about how to answer the “tell me about yourself” question. I remember an interview  I went for and when I was asked this question, I was just saying things that are not relevant to the job. Many job seekers make this mistake as well and this might make them miss a big chance to leave a great impression on the interviewer. Here is how to answer the “tell me about yourself” question in an interview.

Start by introducing yourself professionally

The first thing you should do when you are asked the “tell me about yourself” question is to introduce yourself professionally. This is not the time to dabble in personal information such as your family or friends. But answer the question in relation to the job role you are applying for. As simple as this seems to be, you need a series of continuous practices to gracefully introduce yourself professionally.

Continue by talking about your skills and expertise

Now that the interviewer knows you professionally, it is time to show off your skills and expertise. Although you would have written all these on your resume, you should highlight them in three or four points. And you should ensure you highlight your expertise with examples. For instance, if you work as a customer service agent, instead of saying you improve the customer service response, you can just throw in numbers. “I was able to increase the customer service response rate by 10%”, this response shows that you know what you are doing.

Tell them why you are at the interview

Even though the interviewer knows that you are at the interview for the job, you should also give them a good reason why you want the job. Talking about pay here might ruin your chances so talk more about what you are passionate for about the job.

Throw in a bit of your personality

To finish up, you should throw in a bit of your personality. However, be careful not to put in irrelevant hobbies. You can just highlight hobbies that show intellectual development or personal discipline. All in all, highlighting your personality is a great way to end your response but make sure you maintain a professional tone.

Some basic tips on how to answer the ‘tell me about yourself” question.

  • Modify your answer to each job: this tip on how to answer the “tell me about yourself” question in an interview is essential. Even if you are applying for the same role in different companies, make sure you modify your answer to each role and company. This will show you have done your homework and give you an edge over your competition.
  • Another tip on how to answer the “tell me about yourself” question is that you should not recite your CV. Doing this demonstrates you did not prepare well for the interview.
  • According to the saying “practice makes perfection”, thus you should practice your answer before the interview. You can record yourself or practice in front of your family or friends. But you should avoid memorizing as it may not come off as authentic.
  • You should avoid divulging personal information such as ethnic, religion, marital status, and so on. Just keep it professional and relevant to the job.
  • Another tip on how to answer the ” tell me about yourself question” is to keep your response short and precise. Although there is no specific amount of time to use, keep your response below two minutes.

Some examples of how to answer the “tell me about yourself” question in an interview.

Example 1:

I’m a recruiter at XYZ recruiting company, I’ve had the opportunity of hiring top talents for more than 50 companies. I had experience working as an HR personnel for more than 3 years before moving to my current job. Even though I love my current job, I feel I need a more challenging role, and this position sounds challenging and exciting.

Example 2:

I currently work at XYZ technology as a customer service agent, and my responsibilities include meeting people and solving their problems about the company’s product. And I’ve been with them for over two years. Before then, I worked as a customer rep in a retail store where I answer calls, attend to customers’ queries, and many more. The role has helped me to improve my customer service and problem-solving skills

I’m looking for a role that will make me use the skills and expertise I have developed over the years to the optimum point. And I heard that your company has a reputation for giving optimum customer service. Hence the reason why I’m so excited about this opportunity.

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