Career Mantras

How To Answer The "Tell Me About Yourself" Job Interview Question

Posted by: Editorial Team Date:Jan 22, 2018

“Achievements and qualifications have earned you the interview; attitude and personality will earn you the job”


Most interviewers start an interview by first asking the open-ended question – “tell me about yourself”. It seems like an easy question, after all it is a topic no one knows better about than you yourself. Yet you would be surprised how many people find it most difficult to talk about themselves! They either ramble on and do not know how to focus and when to stop, or they fumble and give short, vague responses that do not tell the interviewer exactly what they need to know.


Since this is usually the first question in the interview, it creates a first impression as well as sets the tone for the rest of the discussion. Hence it is important for you as an interviewee to be prepared and put up a strong, well-thought-out response.


The open-ended question asked by interviewer serves various criteria including serving as an ice-breaker, making the candidate comfortable, gaining an insight of the candidate’s personality, getting an overview of candidate’s background and relevant experience, and observing how the candidate can summarize and put forth salient information. It is also a great opportunity for you as a candidate to set the tone of the interview, lead the discussion in the direction you wish to and plug in points that you want to interviewer to pick up for discussion later in the interview.


To avoid making too many mistakes while answering the open-ended question, it is advisable to keep your answer short and to the point instead of providing irrelevant information or boring the interviewer.


Below are few recommendations that will help you to prepare for the dreaded interview questions:

1. Start with where you are working currently and your present position

2. Go back to quickly talk about your education and previous professional experience

3. Highlight your educational qualification along with the institute or university name. Mention any specific certifications or awards that would be relevant to the job

4. Talk about the positions and responsibilities in your past experience and give a brief of each role especially mentioning the experience that matches the employer’s JD

5. Mention skills and strengths that are relevant to the position e.g. excellent at meeting deadlines, ability to relate to people or good communication skills

6. End with why you are looking for a change and what interested you about the position you have applied for

7. If the interviewer has not stopped you so far, speak a few lines about your personal life, hobbies and interests

8. Do not walk through your entire resume, the interviewer already has gone through that. Use this chance to highlight points that you want the interviewer to focus on during the rest of the interview


Variations to the “Tell us about yourself” question:

In addition to the standard question, in some pressure interviews, you may come across variations. It is better to be prepared for such questions as well so that you are not caught off guard:

  • The Elevator Pitch - Tell us about yourself in 60 seconds. Plan in advance what are the 4-5 key points you need to focus on to keep the answer brief yet impactful.
  • Interviewer asks you to speak about yourself, but cuts you off midway at a point and starts off questioning on that line. This is to check how you react to unexpected situations, think on your feet and stay alert
  • Tell us something about yourself that is not in your resume


While it is certainly recommended to prepare for this question, it is important that you do not sound too rehearsed, but appear to make normal conversation with the interviewer. We suggest that you keep in mind all the points you want to go through, but do not memorize a script as it will come off sounding very rehearsed.

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