4 Ways to Nail the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question

Tell Me About YourselfEveryone hates this interview question, “So, tell me about yourself.”

How a candidate reacts and answers this simple interview question can be extremely telling of a candidate’s viability as a candidate. You must bring bring your A-game to this challenge! Here’s how:

Focus on What Makes You Exceptional

Often times we want to impress people. This is especially true if a big job is on the line. This can lead to one big land mine: trying to be everything to everyone. The key here is to be specific when describing what achievements and strengths you bring to this job at this company.

For instance, if you were vying for your first management level position this would be a great time to mention steady promotions, tell impactful and quantified stories about your previous leadership roles, and talk about how your leadership style fits in well with the culture of the company.

Be Confident (But Not Cocky)

Confidence acknowledges that while you’re very good at what you do, your focus remains on service. Conceit, on the other hand, is perceived as you can do no wrong and are more self-interested.

For example, if a recruiter hears “I can market anything” from a candidate in the running for a marketing position, they probably won’t believe it. After all, they have been in business long enough to know that, while you may be a good marketer, you most probably cannot market anything.

Instead focus on what that particular company does and how your skills can help. Does the company sell software services? Then your answer to something like “I am great at creating and executing marketing campaigns for software. For example…”

Answer with Quantified Examples

If you respond to “Tell me about yourself” with ramblings from your personal life (as most people do) you’ve completely missed the point!

What the interviewer wants to know is who you are professionally and what impact you can make at this company. This is the interviewer’s way of opening the line of communication and getting what they need quickly. They want to know off the bat if your skills, approach and record of achievement are the right fit for the open position.

To continue the example from above: ““I am great at creating and executing marketing campaigns for software. For example, at ABC Company we increased sales and renewals of our core product by 132% by focusing on…”

Keep it Concise

At first glance, this common interview question seems so informal, right? And sometimes people let their guard down when answering it. This leads to rambling… the answer goes on and on… and on.

Think of this question as the opportunity for a sales pitch. And what makes an effective sales pitch? It’s short, sweet and simple – and is customized to the audience.

You can avoid this land mind by forming a short narrative around the key points that differentiate you from other candidates and solves the problem the employer is trying to fix with this hire. Important: Write your answer out and practice saying it before the interview so you’re not caught off guard. Not to the point you’re memorizing, of course – but to the point you can say it confidently and concisely.

The “Tell Me About Yourself” question doesn’t have to be a land mine. Be prepared, confident and concise. Remember the answer must be relate-able to the audience. And clearly state your value using quantified examples. You’ll do great!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Chameleon Resumes.


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Lisa RangelAbout the Author: Lisa Rangel is founder and managing director of Chameleon Resumes, a Forbes Top 100 Career Website, has helped hundreds of people land the exact job they wanted – even when they weren’t sure they would get an interview. Lisa is a 7-time certified resume writer and job search consultant, a former recruiter and one of the few executive resume writers performing resume and job search-related contract work for LinkedIn. She has been featured on Forbes.com, LinkedIn, Investors Business Daily, and so many more publications. Follow Lisa on Twitter!



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