How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” During an Interview (+Samples)

Have you been preparing for an interview and wondering what questions may come up?

Almost all job interviews start with the same question: “Tell me about yourself.” Having talking points prepared for regular interview questions makes you feel more confident during your interview. Essentially, answering interview questions confidently begins with practice and preparation.

To answer “tell me about yourself’ correctly, do you start with your background? Do you go through whatever’s on your CV? Or do you introduce yourself more as a person than a professional?

In this article, you’ll learn what the “tell me about yourself” question is really about. We’ll show you a tried-and-tested formula for structuring your answer. Also, we’ll explain to you how to make your answer relevant to the position you’re pursuing, as well as lots of inspiring examples.

Why Recruiters Ask This Question

Majorly, recruiters ask this “tell me about yourself’ question because of these four reasons:

  • For a smooth start to the interview without causing you any stress.
  • In order to establish a tone and direction for the entire interview.
  • To test your soft skills in a real-life situation.

In order to get to know you better professionally.

Recruiters want to learn more about you because all they know about you is what’s on your CV and perhaps a quick phone call. But keep in mind, they want to know you not personally, but professionally.

Now, they will be able to see a glimpse of your soft talents through the way you communicate and act: Are you speaking with assurance and composure? Do you maintain eye contact? Do you communicate well? Can you build a rapport?

What questions follow depending on your response. Your entire job interview may go quite smoothly if you impress the recruiter right away.

A few common variations of “Tell me about yourself”

There are plenty of times when you’ll hear these exact words: “Tell me about yourself.” But interviewers might have their versions of the prompt that are asking pretty much the same thing, including:

  • I have your resume in front of me but tell me more about yourself.
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • I’d love to hear more about your journey.
  • Tell me a little bit more about your background.

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Tell me about yourself

Tips to answer “Tell me about yourself” correctly

To better answer the question, you first need to understand why they ask it in the first place.

The question is a way for them to ease into the actual interview and get a general idea of what you’re all about.

Take advantage of this opportunity to make a lasting impression. Give a good answer, and the interviewer will enthusiastically bombard you with more questions.

So, what’s the best way to answer?

Well, it’s pretty straightforward. A good answer should be:

  • Tailored – Applying for an accounting job? The recruiter doesn’t care about your work experience as a real estate agent. Your response must be customized to the job for which you are applying. Based on Experience & Achievements – Your answer should be super-specific. Don’t just say “so um, my name’s Kenny and I’m a sales manager.” Your answer should consist of background (what did you study?), top achievements (how do you stand out from the other candidates), and interests (why are you applying for this job?).
  • Structured – Your answer should follow a simple, easy-to-follow format. We’d recommend sticking to the tried-and-tested “Past-Present-Future” formula. Meaning, structure your answer as follows:
    • The past – what is your background and relevant work experience? How did you get to where you are now?
    • The present – what is your current role? What do you do and what are your top accomplishments?
    • The future – what are you looking to do next? Why are you interested in the position?

Sample Answers:

Example 1

“Sure, so, my name is Joe and I am 27 years old.

For the past 5 years, I’ve been working as a business analyst at Companies X and Y.

I have some background in data analysis, with a degree from University XY. What got me into the field, though, is the internship I did at Company Z. 

Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that I’ve always been good with numbers and handling data.

For example, when I was working at Company X, I led a project for migrating all operations data to a new data warehousing system to cut down on costs. The new solution was a much better fit for our business, which eventually led to savings of up to 2,000,000 annually. 

Moving forward, I hope to expand my experience across different industries. Particularly fintech, which is why I’m interested in your company..”

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Example 2

“I enjoy providing robust software solutions. (2) I’ve led a software engineering team of 10 programmers at Xyz Solutions for three years. (3) Our proudest moment was receiving the 2018 Bossie award. (2) Before that I worked for two years as a software engineer at SurgeWallop. (3) I slashed security breaches by 70% by winning full employee buy-in for our Principle of Least Privilege drive. (4) It’s been a great run, but I’m chafing at the bit to sink my teeth in with a high-performing DevOps team like the one at Brass LAMP Dev.

Sample answer for an experienced professional:

Sure, I’d be glad to. I’m a tech-focused project manager for up to 8 years now.

I graduated from University X, where I made the Dean’s List, with a major in business administration and a minor in computer science. After that, I first got into the industry working as an administrative assistant at Company X. There I provided clerical support with interdepartmental communication, helped in managing schedules, and maintained the digital filing system.

After that, I was working as a project manager for Company Y which provided cloud computing solutions for about 6 years. There, I managed 5+ teams of software projects and made sure everything went smoothly in terms of business goals, deadlines, budget, and more. 

In my downtime, I enjoy reading about AI, tech, and robotics. Since you guys do all 3, I thought I’d apply.

Explore More Helpful Career Tips

Sample answer for fresh graduates:

My name is Olamide, I’m 22 years old and I recently graduated from University X with a B.A. in international business. While there, I learned a lot of theories in subjects like corporate communication, international economics, corporate governance, and more. I was also part of the students’ union government and maintained a GPA of 3.6.

I’ve worked hard in my education and now I’m ready to apply my knowledge into practice.

While I don’t have any real-life work experience, I’ve had a lot of exposure to the business environment. A lot of my courses involved working with real companies to solve real problems.

Now, I’m looking to leverage everything I’ve learned in uni and get some hands-on work experience.

Sample answer for university admissions:

So, my name is John, and I’m a senior at School XYZ. 

This year, I managed to maintain a 3.7 GPA, while working on a few different school projects. I started an ‘Ernest Hemingway Book Club’ which has up to 15 active members as of now. And I also launched a recycling program for the campus, through which we raised awareness and invited an outside guest lecturer to speak about the subject.

I tend to be teamwork-oriented and reliable, as I’ve never missed a deadline. I’m also proud of my ability to preserve and overcome any challenges as they come up. For example, last year, I was having some trouble with trigonometry. I realized I needed to dedicate more time to the subject, so, I met with a teacher outside the class and set aside two extra hours per day for the subject. Eventually, I ended up with an A in the subject.

At University X, I’m planning to either major in English or Journalism. I love reading and writing, so I think both programs are going to be interesting and relevant to my interests.

For a sales representative:

I thrive in a fast-paced office where I can work on ratcheting up efficiency. At ABC Stores, we often had over 100 customers a day come through the doors. I was able to cut scheduling errors by 25% and resolve complaints 50% faster than the previous assistant. Before that at DEF and Co, I helped raise patient satisfaction scores by 20% by streamlining our intake flow. I’m ready to grow into a position where my efficiency can make a difference to a larger team. That’s why I’m so excited about this role.

Interviewing may be an inevitable part of the job search, but doesn’t need to be dreadful or painful. Think of them as opportunities for new doors to open and new experiences to be had. Instead of letting your nerves get the best of you during an interview, prepare yourself mentally to answer “Tell me about yourself” and consider the request as not only a great way for the interviewer to break the ice, but a great way for you to share who you are as well.

You may also need to learn how to avoid fake interview invitations as well as what to do after an interview in order to increase your chance of employment. More so, it is important to know that it is very wise to ask questions from your recruiter. Read more HERE. You can make a good impression and hopefully help make their hiring decision an easy one. 

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