How to answer "Tell Me About Yourself"?
How to Answer "Tell Me Something About Yourself" in a Job Interview
Job interviews are often full of vague, sometimes frustrating questions. One you’ve likely heard multiple times is the dreaded “Tell me something about yourself” question. It’s vague enough to get you lost in thought, but the way you answer can seal the deal or break it. But as long as you take your time to prepare your answer beforehand, you’ll know what to say and be on your way to nailing your interview!
Saying the Right Thing
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.If you’re really not sure where you’re going with your answer, ask the interviewer to clarify what they’re looking for. You might find that they specifically want to hear about your personality, or they may want to know the ins and outs of your last job.
- Be careful when asking for clarification. Don’t say the question didn’t make sense or that it’s too vague. Instead offer specific things that may help guide your answer: “I’d love to do that, did you want to know more about my professional experience or my personal interests?”
Start with your interests outside of work.This gives a more casual start to your answer, and makes you seem like a more well-rounded person. Try and stick with hobbies and interests that you can link to the job opening, but always be authentic. Don’t pretend to be interested in softball just because the interviewer has a little league trophy on their desk.
- For example, if you’re applying for a job in the finance sector, it’s a good idea to talk about your personal investments.
Use volunteer work to your advantage.This is especially important if you have a particular cause you care deeply about; it adds another level to your character. Focus on specific tasks you had as a volunteer and mention your best accomplishments.
- This is crucial if you don’t have a lot of work experience. Volunteer experience can help you put emphasis on qualities you want prospective employers to know about.
- Whether you worked in a soup kitchen or organized an entire fundraising event, most volunteer experiences can be a great opportunity to outline your strengths.
Go into your previous work experience.More than anything, the way you frame your professional history will show how fit you are for the job. This is your chance to reference skills that are relevant to the job opening and show how you handled difficult workplace conflicts. Always make sure to spin these situations positively.
- Don’t make the mistake of saying you didn’t learn anything from a previous job. You should be able to draw a lesson from any work experience.
- A great way to spin workplace conflicts positively is to focus on the concrete actions you took to resolve it. Did you go to your boss, respecting the chain of command? Or maybe you proposed the perfect compromise?
Keep things light with appropriate humor.Answering the interviewer’s question with rapid fire facts is sure to bore them and make you seem uninteresting. Use lighthearted humor that’s relevant to the conversation; don’t go into a monologue about your dog. The key is to use humor to offset situations where you’re doubtful or uncomfortable.
- For example, if an interviewer asks if you’d have a problem with working weekends, you can answer something along the lines of: “I can’t miss Sunday night football!”. Then mention that you’re kidding, and outline examples where you sacrificed weekends for work.
Respond quickly and confidently.The whole reason you want to prepare your answer is to avoid hesitating when the question comes. You want to show whoever’s asking that you’re confident and self-aware enough to answer their question quickly and efficiently. Confidence in job interviews is something that comes with time. Until then, “fake it till you make it.” Think of yourself as a confident person and you will become confident.
- Keep your answer to 60 seconds tops. Otherwise you risk rambling and making the resulting answer unclear.
Part 1 Quiz
What should you do if your interviewer asks about conflicts at a previous workplace?
Brainstorming the Answer
Brainstorm your skills and abilities.Write down a list of good qualities about yourself that show you’re just right for the job. Anything that comes to mind should be jotted down until you run out of ideas. Skills and abilities generally fall into three main qualities:
- Knowledge-Based Skills. These are skills that you learn as you mature and include languages, computer skills, mathematical reasoning, and technical know-how.
- Transferable Skills. These are skills that you take from job to job. They include people management skills, communication, and problem solving.
- Personal Traits. Your unique, innate qualities including your sociability, confidence, excitability, and punctuality.
Jot down your interests and characteristics.Your answer shouldn’t just be about your skills and qualifications. While the interviewer is trying to get a sense of what you’ll be like at work, you need to give them a sense that you’re a complete person. Come up with a list of things you are passionate about and keywords that you think describe you best.
- If you’re having difficulty coming up with these things, ask yourself what inspires you, what you’re passionate about, and what defines you.
Pick out the qualities you think might fit best with the employer.After you’ve chosen things that are relevant to the job posting, you need to compare what you’ve come up with to the company you’re applying to and see what sticks.
- Research the company’s values. Each company has a culture, and you can pick up on this in their job posting as well as their website. Companies that value efficiency above all will prioritize performance while a non-profit may pay more attention to passion and drive.
- Look at the job specifications. For example, if you're applying for a marketing position, you probably should be outgoing, excellent at communication, relationship-driven, and fast-paced. Make sure you have at least one of these characteristics in mind for the interview.
Start developing your personal elevator pitch.An elevator pitch is a short (30 seconds to 1 minute) summary of who you are and what you do. It should include what you stand for, who you are, and how your ambitions stand in line with those aspects of your personality. It's what you canmeaningfullytell someone about yourself on an elevator ride from the ground to the top floor.
- The best elevator pitches focus on just a few key aspects. Think of one characteristic that defines who you are, one that characterizes what you do, and one that illustrates your goals.
- An elevator pitch will be useful outside of job interviews as well, so spend some time working on it.
Practice with a friend.One of the best ways to be prepared for this question at an interview is to practice your answer. Have your friend pretend they’re the interviewer. When they ask, “OK, well how about you tell me something about yourself?” give them your answer.
- Once you’ve answered, ask for honest feedback. Try and get your friend to give you their overall impression of the answer, as well as telling you any specifics that should be added or left out.
- You can also practice answering follow-up questions by having your friend ask you questions about your answer.
Part 2 Quiz
What should you consider when brainstorming your qualities?
Nailing Your Answer
Gauge the feel of the interview.The interviewer will most likely ask the question early on in the interview, so you might not have much to work with. Some interview settings will call for a polished sales pitch while others will require a more casual touch.
- Here’s an example of a polished sales pitch: "I'm a consultant working in telecommunications. For the past three years, I've been helping clients organize their workforce and restructure their pricing packages in order to boost profit. I love consulting, but my real passion is music, and I want to use my talents within that industry. That's why I'm applying to your organization."
Don't lie.Whether it’s in your elevator pitch, your strengths or your weaknesses, don’t lie. If the interviewer catches your lie, you won’t be getting the job. If they don’t, you’ll have to try and keep up the lie while you work. Eventually you’ll be found out, and you may end up losing the job anyway.
Be yourself and be heartfelt.Whatever you say, do so with feeling and with authenticity. Your interviewer will be more sympathetic to what you say if the way you say it rings true to them.
Avoid buzzwords or jargon.Buzzwords or jargon are catchwords that are trendy to say but that don't really mean anything. They’re often bland, and not usually relevant to a particular industry. Stick to terms and expressions that are specific to your industry. It’ll show off your knowledge more than trying to add buzzwords to your vocabulary.
Keep your cool.The goal of answering this question isn'tjustto get information about who you are. It's about how confident you are, how well you speak, whether you’re calm and deliberate, and whether you can establish a rapport with the interviewer.
- If you do happen to mumble an answer or say something you didn’t mean to, laugh it off. Chuckle and say something like "Boy did I get tongue-tied for a minute there." Then move on, showing that you are confident in yourself and that one little slip up isn’t the end of the world to you.
Maintain eye contact and smile.A lot of the time, hiring managers hire people that they like over people better qualified for the job. Your job here is to be likable. This means smiling and being confident enough to hold eye contact with your interviewer.
- Smile. Smiling will help you feel calmer. Smiling will also help you put the interviewer at ease and perhaps even make them happier. It’ll make you come across as a warmer, happier person, helping to set a more relaxed atmosphere.
Be ready to answer follow-up questions.If your interviewer wants to clarify something, or maybe even test you about an item in your elevator pitch, be prepared. You should know your elevator pitch inside and out and always be ready to defend it under scrutiny.
Part 3 Quiz
The way you deliver your answer means just as much as the answer itself. How should you act?
QuestionWhat should I answer when being asked why I should be hired?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDescribe the skills and attitudes to have that will be an asset on the job. You need to write these things down beforehand so you can pre-think them and make clear connections between your experiences and skills and attitudes and the requirements of the job.Thanks!
QuestionWhat's a good fun fact to say in the interview?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou don't need to have a fun fact to excel in an interview, though it can lighten the mood and show the interviewer that you would be a good colleague. Think of something you are good at that contributes to the workplace but isn't directly related to your job, such as making coffee or baking. You can slip that into the conversation once you and the interviewer have established a good rapport.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I tell a job interviewer my weakness?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWhen you inform your interviewer about your weakness, you should always state ways of working out that weakness. For example, saying "I lack confidence when it comes to making subjective decisions, but I'm working that out by associating with confidence and people who believe in me".Thanks!
How can I work on my shyness?
How do I tell my greatest weaknesses?
- An interview is all about being able to blow your own trumpet, so if you think you're the best at something then mention it; just take a small slice of humble pie along with it so that you don't sound too far up your own arse/ass!
- Lying is not going to help. Try to avoid it at all costs.
Sources and Citations
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