Brilliant Resumes

How to effectively answer the “Tell me about yourself” question in a job interview?

Tell me about yourself.

Be honest, did you automatically feel a little uneasy reading this? There’s a reason this question (albeit more telling!) is so hard to answer.

The “Tell me about yourself” interview question can be nerve wracking, because it’s so open-ended — and it often leaves job seekers unsure of how to respond.

“It’s important to remember that the reason employers ask this question is really to see how you would fit into a certain role at the company,” says Flex Jobs career expert Toni Frana.

To successfully answer this question, you must match your answer to the role you are applying for and prepare your answer in advance.

How to answer “Tell me about yourself”?

  1. Relate your answer to the current task

“Tell me about yourself” is probably better worded as: “Tell me what made you apply for this job and some key qualifications that make you stand out, and maybe add something to help highlight your personality.”

But this is obviously too long a statement, so employers often shorten it to a much broader question. Regardless of how the employer phrased it, four aspects of your answer should comprise:

  • Your most recent work-related background
    • What made you apply for this job
    • Your best qualifications for the job
    • What interests you about the company
  1. Keep your answer short, about 30 seconds or less

Start by addressing these four topics in a draft version of your answer. Once you have a rough draft on paper (or screen), it’s time to start narrowing, refining, and distilling. You’re aiming for about 30 seconds from start to finish. (Yes, it should be that fast!)

Take some time to figure out how long you’re talking and you’ll find that 30 seconds is about right. More than that and it can start to sound meandering.

It may also be useful to remind you that this is only an introduction. During the rest of the interview, even if it is just an initial screening, you will have additional opportunities to demonstrate more skills, qualifications, and personality. So don’t try to pack everything in at first.

  1. Practice Your Answers

You need to understand how to answer this question without sounding too rehearsed. Exercise will help you:

  • Build your confidence so that you are not shocked or nervous when you are put on the spot.
    • Strengthen your understanding of who you are and what you can offer.
    • Focus on your answers so you don’t wander off.
    • Be specific about how you believe your path has prepared you to work for this company.

But to practice something, you must first know what you are talking about! Below are three examples of how to answer “tell me about yourself.”

Sample Responses to “Tell me about yourself”


  1. Take it step by step

“I am a pioneering hiring manager with 8 years of experience in managing all aspects of recruiting – from resume screening and phone screening to benefits – for Fortune 500 companies have used the last 4 years to develop my skills resulting in performance recognition and two promotions

  1. Think “past, present, future”


Using this simple three-part formula will help you create a professional and informative answer to the “Tell me about yourself” question.

“Currently, I’m an account manager at Smith, where I manage a top client. Before that, I was at an agency where I worked for three different large national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoy what I do, I would love the opportunity to delve into a specific healthcare company, so so excited about the opportunity at Metro Health Center”.

  1. Respond with the company in mind

Do your research beforehand to get the best information about the company and how your expertise and strengths can help them. Here’s an example:

“I was born and raised in this country and have an excellent knowledge of the area as well as Central and XYZ counties. Over the past 9 years at ABC Freight Company I have developed as a package loader, courier shipper, and team leader. In my most recent role, I had the opportunity to conduct several management training programs, provide supervision and leadership in all positions, and participate in special projects with senior and regional managers. I enjoy being a leader and being able to strengthen and motivate my team for the greatest growth. I believe this experience and training has prepared me to take the next step and take on a leadership role with you.”

What not to say when you answer “Tell me about yourself.”

  1. Don’t clutter your resume


It might be tempting to read almost all of your resume, but don’t. Normally you might mention where you started your career, a few jobs, and your current role, but now is not the time to skim list them one by one or talk about each job you did, keep it short and about 30 seconds long.


  1. Don’t Focus on Irrelevant Jobs


Depending on where you are in your career, your career history can be pretty far off. If your first job out of college is unrelated to your current career, don’t mention it. Or, if you’ve had a career change, you can focus only on those roles that directly relate to your new career field. Mentioning unrelated roles can be confusing and make the employer wonder if you are focused or experienced in the job you are applying for.


  1. Don’t get too personal

Avoid personal topics like whether or not you have children, your marital status, or your religious or political background. Not only can an employer ask you for these, they are unrelated to the job and can even discriminate against your interviewer.

Landing Your Dream Job

Prepare for success by researching the company to get a sense of the company’s culture and practicing your answers to difficult interview questions. With an organized approach, you’ll be ready to stand out in today’s competitive job market.



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