She smiles as she opens the door to her corner office and gestures towards the seat across from her desk. The letters “HR DIRECTOR” inscribed in her nameplate glistens in the overhead light as she settles into her leather deskchair. “So…TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF.”
Does this scenario make you feel like you’re about to break into a cold sweat? This does not have to be your nightmare. The Southern Careers Institute content team has translated this fear-inducing phrase and broken it down in three easy tips. Follow them and then write down your own response. Read, rehearse, repeat, and you will be that much closer to scoring your dream job.
1. “Tell Me About Yourself” = “Tell Me About the Professional You”
A.K.A. Keep It Professional.
Interviewers are not saying “tell me about yourself” because they want to know your personal life. They are looking for what makes you the best candidate for the job. So instead of mentioning your dogs, favorite sport team, or artist, use it as an opportunity to show why you are the best candidate for the position. Remember, this is their first impression on you, so think about how you want to be remembered. Most likely, you will want the manager to be reflecting on the value you will add to the company, not for your obsession with Selena Gomez.
2. “Tell Me About Yourself” = “Sell Me On Why You’re Right for This Job”
A.K.A. Highlight your experience and skills
You do not have to have a “canned” answer here. You can tailor your answer for the job position. By studying the job description before the interview, you can adapt your answer depending on what they specifically are asking for in the role.
For example, if the job calls for “Responding to customer inquiries,” you can include in your answer or “pitch” that your experience in working in a client services role made you realize you had a real desire to work in a customer-facing role, like the one you are interviewing for.
Highlight education, work experie nce, and skills that are relevant and helps to prove you are the best candidate. If you do not have working experience, think about transferable skills that you developed at school or in private life that supports your answer. For the previous example, if you had helped out answering phones for a family member’s business–that counts for something!
3. “Tell Me About Yourself” = “Give Me The Highlights–In Order, Please”
A.K.A. Give answers in chronological order
Follow a timeline to make it easy for interviewers to follow.
Here is a good example to start your answer.
“I believe I have a very solid background in medical assisting. I earned my degree in medical assisting where I learned viable skills, such as taking vitals, administering injections, explaining treatment procedures to patients, and preparing patients for examination…..”
One alternative to the chronological order answer is what Kathryn Minshew, CEO of the Muse, calls the Present-Past-Future formula.
Start with the present—where you are right now. Then, segue into the past—share some experiences you’ve had and the skills you gained at the previous position. Finally, finish with the future—why you are really excited for this particular job opportunity.
Here’s her example:
“If someone asked, ‘tell me about yourself,’ you could say:
‘Currently an account executive at Smith, where I handle our top performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.’”
If you would like to dive a little deeper into what makes a great answer to the “Tell Me About Yourself” question, JobSpeaker has an excellent video on the topic. Check it out below: