How to – Tell me about yourself

A common opener in interviews is the prompt, “Tell me about yourself.” Let’s explore how to exploit this opportunity to make a strong case for your candidacy.

But before we get into it, here is a twist. Many times the question is not really presented to you in those exact words.

Here are a few ways people will ask you this question:

  • Could you introduce yourself?
  • Can you walk me through your background?
  • What should I know about you?
  • Can you share a bit about your personal and professional journey?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What are the key things from your past experiences that you think are relevant to this job?
  • What makes you the unique candidate for this position?
  • Tell us about your path to this interview.
  • How do your experiences prepare you for this role?
  • Who are you both in and outside of work?

Oh, and it doesn’t end there… some interviewers are quite creative and will ask you something like:

  • If we were reading a novel about your life, what would the summary on the back say?
  • Imagine you’re the topic of a newspaper article; what would the excerpt say about you?
  • Could you unpack your journey as if it were the chapters of a book?
  • If you were to pitch your personal story to a filmmaker, what key elements would you highlight?
  • Describe the road that led you here today as if it were a travel itinerary.

But they all mean the same thing… “Tell me about Yourself”

So let’s dive into it.

When you’re sitting across from your interviewer, this question can almost feel like a casual conversation starter. And in some cases, it might be. The interviewers, at times, ask this question to help the candidate relax before they start with the “real” questions.

But that doesn’t mean you should take it lightly. This question is one of the few moments you have that you can use to sell yourself and set the tone for the rest of the interview.

Understand the Question

First, recognize that this question isn’t an invitation to recount your life story or share personal details that aren’t relevant to the job. It’s your opportunity to connect your background to the position you’re applying for.

Prepare Your Pitch

The best approach is to prepare a concise and compelling pitch. This should be no longer than a minute or two, focusing on who you are, your professional background, and why you’re a fit for this role.

Structure Your Response

Use the NAIL (Now, Acquire, Implement, Leverage) structure:

  • Now: Start with where you are currently in your career. Briefly mention your current role and a key responsibility or achievement.
  • Acquire: Transition into how you acquired your skills. Highlight your educational background or any training essential to your professional growth.
  • Implement: Discuss how you’ve implemented your skills in various roles. Pick examples that show your proficiency and relevance to the position you’re applying for.
  • Leverage: Conclude by explaining how you can leverage your experience and skills in the new role. Make it clear how you can contribute and why you are uniquely suited for the position.

Customize Your Answer

Tailor your pitch to the job and company. Research the company’s values, culture, and any recent projects or news. Incorporate how your goals align with theirs.

Practice, But Keep It Fresh

While it’s important to prepare and practice your response to sound confident, ensure it doesn’t come off as overly rehearsed. Keep your tone conversational and enthusiastic.

Example Response

Here’s how you might structure your response for a marketing role:

I’m currently a Marketing Coordinator with a strong focus on digital campaigns, where I’ve successfully increased our lead generation by 20% over the past year. I graduated with a degree in Marketing from ABC University, where I honed my skills in market analysis and strategic advertising. In my previous role at XYZ Company, I implemented a multi-platform advertising strategy that contributed to a 30% increase in overall customer engagement. I am excited about the opportunity to leverage these experiences to further enhance your company’s digital presence, particularly with innovative social media strategies.

Final Thoughts

“Tell me about yourself” is more than just an icebreaker. It’s your chance to frame your narrative and highlight what makes you the best candidate for the job. With a structured response, you can ensure that your first impression is impactful and memorable. So, take the time to craft a response that reflects your qualifications, experience, and passion for the position.

Happy interviewing!